The Good Words that Held Me Up through My Hard Marriage

I’m honored to welcome author/speaker Elisabeth Klein Corcoran for the “words that changed my world” series. Elisabeth’s new book, Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage, was released last week.

Living in a difficult Christian marriage is an isolating experience, for a couple reasons.  First, you feel like you’re the only person going through what you’re going through.  Secondly, you feel that if you shared, no one would truly understand. And thirdly, there’s this little thing about being a Christian, in my experience, that led me to stuff the really bad things down, because I thought if I were “found out”, my building-the-Kingdom card would be taken away.

So in the midst of almost twenty years of pain, I learned to share just bits and pieces of my hard road. I didn’t think any one friend could handle it, or would believe, or would know what to do about it. And I didn’t want to be that woman who was only full of her own pain.

Elisabeth and her beloved friendBut Jesus brought a friend into my life who walked closely with me through years and years of heartache. She knew the most.  She leaned in the closest.  My pain didn’t scare her.

And one day she wrote me these words: You would bless ANYONE with the way you choose to handle your marriage.  I know you don’t do it perfectly every minute, but you are amazing!  Most Christian women couldn’t do half as well in your relationship as you have.  You are a godly example whether you feel like it or not.”

She saw my life was out of control. She knew my marriage was unraveling and frail and just barely hanging on. She knew I was messing up at every turn. And yet she spoke those words of life into my soul in a moment when I wanted to throw in every single towel.

And those words buoyed me up.  They changed my perspective.  She called out something in me that I was too blinded by my hurt to see, and that was this: that I was handling things better than I thought and that I still had something to offer.

We all have moments or even seasons in our lives when we cannot see what is true about ourselves.  And we all have the ability to stop what we’re doing and look deeply into the eyes of a friend and speak words that can shift something in her soul, even if for just right then and there.

We all have experienced firsthand the devastation of a careless or intentionally cruel word. But we sometimes forget how a carefully chosen, kind word can bring absolute healing, or can pour courage into someone who is flailing, or can realign a self-misperception that has taken root.

Today, think of one hurting person in your life.  And think of one kind sentence you can say or write or text. You will never, ever regret dispensing sweet words.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. –Proverbs 16:24

Elisabeth Klein Corcoran is the author of Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage and Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage, along with several other books. She speaks several times a month to women’s groups, and is a member of Redbud Writers’ Guild. She lives with her children in Illinois. Visit her online at http://www.elisabethcorcoran.com/difficult-marriage-divorce/ or https://www.facebook.com/ElisabethKleinCorcoran.  She is the moderator of two private Facebook groups: one for women in difficult Christian marriages, and one for Christian women who are separated or divorced. Email her at elisabeth@elisabethcorcoran.com if interested in joining. Elisabeth is a proud Member of Redbud Writer’s Guild and has been featured on Moody’s In the Market with Janet Parshall, This is the Day with Nancy Turner, and Midday Connection with Anita Lustrea.

Do you have a story to share of words that changed your world? I’d love you to be my guest! Read more here.

Divorced: Now Where Do I Belong? – guest post

I am honored today to welcome author/speaker Elisabeth Klein Corcoran. I met Elisabeth through the Redbud Writers Guild, and have been moved to tears more than once by her writing. Elisabeth’s new book, Unraveling: Holding on to Your Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage (Abingdon) was released on October 1.

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For almost two decades, I knew what I was and where I fit. I was a wife and I fit pretty much anywhere, because our world and the Church seem to be pervaded by a couples’ culture.

I could even go somewhere alone, because I knew that I was part of a twosome and that I would be going back home to another who was waiting for me.

But some horrible things happened and some awful things were said and some choices that I never would’ve guessed were made and I found myself shocked and ending my marriage after almost twenty years.

I wasn’t shocked because our marriage had been idyllic and this all came out of nowhere. I was shocked because I had thought, somewhere deep down, that I would always, always be married; always, always be a part of this couple.

And then I wasn’t.

And then I was alone.

And then I didn’t know what I was or where I fit anymore.

And it was lonely. And I was sad. And I felt lost.

We had spent the entirety of our fragile marriage in one church community and they walked us through our reconciliation attempt and then released me to legally separate. To say I am grateful for what my church leadership did for me, my marriage, my then-husband and our children is not even scratching the surface. They covered over us. They fought for us. And then, through all of our tears, they released me.

But then, something shifted. In them? In me? I have no idea. But I found myself sick to my stomach and on the verge of tears for the better part of six months every single time I drove into my church parking lot, now husband-less, and letting the tears fall on my way home.

I had always been a Mrs. there, someone’s other half. But I found myself feeling more divorced within the walls of my church community than I did anywhere else in my life. I knew I was divorcing, but I felt even more divorcing there. And when that other half was no longer by my side, I wanted to hide and cry and run away and not be seen.

I just couldn’t do it anymore. The place that had surrounded me and supported me no longer felt like my second home, and so, despite that I was already in the throes of grief over my marriage, I then left my other love – my church.

I wish I had answers for this. Who did this to me? Was it something someone said? Was it a look? Was it the perceived whispers and imagined shunning? Or was it one hundred percent me and my shame and my humiliation and my grieving? Or was it all of these elements swirled together and so much more that I may never fully understand? I don’t know.

But I know that I walked into a church down the street and heard the pastor say on my very first night to the entire gathering, “I don’t care what your baggage is…you are welcome here…you are welcome here…you are welcome here…{pointing to person after person after person}…you are welcome here.” And tears fell down my cheeks as my soul let out a sigh of relief, of homecoming. Of belonging.

20131020-135135.jpgElisabeth’s book Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage is available on Amazon. Visit her online at http://www.elisabethcorcoran.com or https://www.facebook.com/ElisabethKleinCorcoran. She is the moderator of two private Facebook groups: one for women in difficult Christian marriages, and one for Christian women who are separated or divorced. Email her at elisabethkcorcoran@gmail.com if interested in joining.

This post is part of the 31 Days of Belonging Series, and I am grateful to Elisabeth for sharing her story as part of it. For a complete list of posts, please click here.