And then I read some quote about how you can only tell a good story with your life if you’re looking ahead and not looking back; which I totally get.
And I’ve been struggling so much lately to sift through all the criticism railed against me because of what I stand for, which is admittedly controversial and grey and messy. It’s not like I’m fighting for more evangelism in our churches or more funding for missionaries.
I am fighting for more help for abused women in Christian marriages, in a male-dominated sub-culture, no less. And I am fighting for more grace for women who leave their toxic Christian marriages.
Not because I’m of the “I am woman, hear me roar” camp but because marriage is too precious, too important, too sacred. Because there’s too much on the line. Because Ephesians 5 talks about marriage being a picture of Christ’s relationship with the Church and I can’t stand the thought that for one moment even one person thinks that because of what she is experiencing in her painful marriage that might actually mean that Christ views her in the same ugly ways.
Like I said…Controversial. Grey. Messy.
So I think between the criticism and the opposition on one hand and the thank-you’s and precious Facebook and blog communities on the other hand, I’m ready to say that I am more than willing for this to be my thing. This will be my cause.
Because if I can somehow stop even one young woman from knowingly walking into a difficult marriage that will suck the life out of her, all of my pain and all of the criticism will be worth it.
And if I can somehow nudge even one hurting woman in an abusive marriage to tell someone and get help, or one desperate woman in an addiction-filled marriage to get into a twelve-step group and find sanity, all of my pain and all of the criticism will be worth it.
And if I can somehow reach even one ashamed woman going through a divorce and convince her that she’s not alone and someone understands her hurt and shame, all of my pain and all of the criticism will be worth it.
And if I can somehow connect with even one pastor who is making matters worse – even if unintentionally – and get him to see that more submission and more sex and more praise isn’t a cure-all, that all marriages are different, that abuse and addiction need to be handled with the utmost care, and he makes living amends by starting to really listen and truly help the voiceless women in his congregation, well then, all of my pain and all of the criticism will be worth it.
So I guess what I’m saying is this: I’m all in. This is my cause. This is my thing. I will be their voice. Where can I sign up to be the poster girl?
If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.
I see a great and honorable work that needs to be done on this subject in our male dominated churches. You are correct, this is not garden variety marital problems we are talking about. No woman can heal the wounds that her husband brings to their home and in turn she and her children reap an unjust punishment for things they are not responsible for. There is not not enough praise or sex in a marriage that can fix those hurts, and heal the brokeness that causes such behavior and sin since they are not the root cause. Maybe like Esther, who knows, if your journey has brought you to place and time such as this so that the glorious light of Jesus can shine and make whole that which is broken. There are captives that need to be set free and those that need not hide their pain and shame ind darkness any more thinking they are to blame or worse unlovable. Thank you Lord for courage that is found in ELisabeth Corcoran as she says, “here am I lord send me”!
Thank you for stepping forward.
Thank you from all the women who can’t.
The whole message of marriege puts too much weight on what happens at the alter, and much less so on the daily happenings. The words at the alter needs to be more along the line of, “I promise to renew my commitment to my spouse each day…” We are continually taught to to pray everyday, to seek God and renew our walk each day as we spend time with Him…yet it seems that the one time commitment at the alter is all that is emphasized, with no weight at all put on the importance of commiting each day.
It is amazing too that after the bruses heal the inside ones continue….so how does doing just more of the same…just more ‘outside’ stuff…help??
I found your blog through an email newsletter and read your article entitled “What Not to Say to a Woman in an Abusive Marriage”. Thank you so much for speaking out. I am struggling in my marriage and often feel like Abigail. And I, too, feel a lack of support from my church, and I have felt as if I am mostly to blame. Not many know this, but my husband and I have been separated while living in the same house for almost two years. I think for some church leaders, they just don’t know what to do, so they do nothing or say the wrong thing. Like you said, it’s messy, and no one wants to get that involved, or feel like they have to take sides, or cause a church split over the matter.
I am so happy to find someone who understands! I have been going through a separation/divorce for 2 and a half years and there was not much support in the Christian realm and I have totally isolated myself, but I am free from the abuse and trying to get healthy. It has been a tough road and I still have a lot of questions and not even sure what to believe anymore. I did some crazy things to get out and it was a scary time and I still have severe anxiety from it. Your blog is encouraging, thanks!
I have two private Facebook groups for women in a difficult Christian marriage or for Christian women going through a separation or divorce. If you’re interested in joining for support and community, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I just love this post! That is all.
Elisabeth, I am so excited, challenged and encouraged about what God is doing in you and through you. Before my marriage showed signs of problems, I saw huge problems in a close friends marriage who confided in me. The young woman sought counseling in the late 70’s and was told to “be more submissive and pray about it”. This theme continued in churches and Christian counseling centers. Before my marriage had problems I saw that women were always eager to be “Total Women”, and to tell other women how best to be Godly wives by submitting, serving raising children in women’s retreats and curriculum for women’s studies. Men never had retreats, held each other accountable and I saw men getting away with being too strong (which now I realize probably was abuse) while elders, leadership and me peers skirted the issues. When Promise Keepers started, I thought, “ok, here they are. They are going to start making each other accountable. All of this my husband and I discussed as we saw our friends have trouble and we noted together that, for example no marriage conference on a national level ever mentioned finances and a husbands responsibility for taking care of his family. Now 30 years later, I find out that elders, leadership and men peers KNEW what my spouse was doing, sent the pastor to talk to him but all proclaimed him “ok”. Well, he wasn’t. After a year, lies hit the fan and now those men now know as much as I know (probably more than I still know) and that it was deception. I bring this to the light with your very important work for women in abusive marriage to say out loud : I think in many ways the church has enabled men to get away with all types of abuse, abandonment and betrayal. And these areas are so grey. He takes his family to church, leads Bible studies, teaches Sunday school and secretly allows and participates in behavior that is not loving his wife as Christ loves the church. He will not be able to present me spotless and blameless to God. Our churches and pastors need to see this. It needs to happen with men dealing with men and protecting women. I will one who prays for you and I hope you let me know if I can pray specifically for you.
thank you for being “all in” – I think the true Christian life is messy and sometimes gray – even Paul says he is “perplexed” – your blog is a blessing to so many and a needed place of refreshing – you have wisdom and grace to give – and I pray that you are able to do all you listed in this post and that lives will be changed for eternity because of it –
Thank You Elasbet , at least I have you who can see my bleeding heart.
Yes, Divorce is a word for many, but to me – it is worth than death itself and I am still question why the holly sprit did not give this wisdom to the body of the Christ? Divorce not only broke my flash and my soul, but also it actually tempted my faith in the almighty.
Thank you! What you are doing is so important. Right now one of the hardest parts of my difficult marriage is dealing w/ church leadership. I am done banging my head against a brick wall – a manipulative and controlling addict needs help , a lot of help and definite accountability. He has them in the palm of his hand and they(leadership) will not listen to me at all, only his side.
You have encouraged me over and over – please keep writing.
Reading your blog felt like you were inside my head.
I have felt that I am an exception in my church for so long. I am thankfully through my divorce now and happy and free but struggle with the fact that ideals and values that continue to be preached in churches today were the same ones that kept me enslaved for so many years. Thank you for committing to speak up and represent the women who can’t. I pray that you will be blessed and find healing.
I agree with you all, and there is help in all situations. Do a search for Patricia Evans. Please take care of yourselves, she can lead you down the right path…
Oh my. My friend directed me to your blog and said I might find it worth reading. Understatement. My marriage died over 5 years ago but, like you, I said I would never get a divorce. Well, here I am, separated, after living in different rooms for 5 years in our home. I filed for divorce. It seems like a sin for a Christian to even type that. Yet I know that God has not walked away from me. He is walking beside me. That said, I remain troubled. Thank you for speaking honestly.