Several months ago, I began more openly sharing my story both here and other places. I received backlash from strangers and from people I know, telling me I’m sharing too much, telling me I should stop, telling me my life choices are wrong. Those people, I say with all due respect, are not my audience.

My audience consists of the women who email me. I’ve stopped counting the emails I receive, but I get several a week, still. All from women who say they somehow stumbled upon my blog or whatnot. They almost always thank me for being so honest. They almost always tell me that they’re grateful to finally not feel alone.

And then they almost always ask me, in some form or another, “What should I do?”

I read their stories and my heart rises up in my throat. The details are all too familiar. The feeling of being trapped returns. The confusion and hopelessness rests heavy in my chest as I remember. For so very long, I didn’t know what to do either. (Part of me still doesn’t know what I’m doing.)

Maybe what hurts the absolute most is that these sweet women feel the need to come to a stranger to ask for help. Where are their churches? Where are their small groups? Where are their mentors? Where are their answers?

Just yesterday a woman emailed me and outright asked me, “Should I get a divorce?”

I am not God. I cannot answer this question for her. I told her this, gently.

But here is what I do say.

I promised myself and God that I would never tell another person to get a divorce, and I have kept that promise. Only that person and God can come to that decision.

So I tell her to find some human help to gather around her to assist her in untangling all the ins and outs of her very specific situation. To look for someone she trusts in her church leadership, to go to a therapist for marriage counseling (even if she’s doing so by herself), to find a twelve step recovery group, to get into a Bible study, any or all of these things (I’ve done them all and then some). To look for help and ask for help until she finally feels fully heard and understood. I don’t usually tell them this, but this step may take a while. It did for me, over a decade.

I tell her to pray and read Scripture. This is how God speaks to us most intimately. Though odds are, she will not find written on the pages of the Bible specifically whether she should or could divorce (if her situation is all grey and blurry like mine was), there will still be so many ideas and mandates and thoughts that she can enfold into her life that will bring peace and the smile of God and some hope that will steer her through to the next hard day. Also, in spending time in God’s word, she is able to replace the lies that she has either heard from her spouse or taken on by the enemy’s whisper with the truth of who she really is. This part is huge in becoming more whole.

And then I pray for her. I literally stop what I’m doing, place my hand on my laptop screen, and pray over the life of this woman, asking for hope and wisdom and peace and protection.

That’s all I can give a stranger. What should she do? She should keep loving God, keep loving her kids if she has them, live as peaceably as she can as long as it’s up to her, and be gentle with herself.

It’s not much. But it’s all I’ve got.

If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here.