A couple years ago, I was mid-separation and noticed I was being asked a few questions over and over.
How did you stay married so long?, usually whispered by women who were still struggling in their hard marriages and were looking for advice.
Why did you stay married so long?, asked judgmentally by those who didn’t hold to my faith who felt I should’ve packed it in years before.
Why aren’t you staying married no matter what?, also asked judgmentally, but this time by people who did hold to my faith but didn’t know the details of my situation or the intricacies of my heart.
So one day while at my computer, I realized that I had an answer to each one of those questions. And so I began to write and pour out my heart and it resulted in a four-part series featured on Crosswalk.com, that ended up – super ironically – being the number one marriage & family article for 2011 on that website.
That moment was pivotal for me. Because comments began to pour in. Some of them encouraging and supportive, and some of them cruel. So cruel that I jumped on my writers’ group Facebook page and said, “Girls, I’m thinking of asking the editor to pull my piece. It’s just too much.” But they did what writer friends do…..they rallied alongside me and told me that clearly I had struck a nerve and I should keep writing. Had they not said that, most of the content on this blog wouldn’t exist, Unraveling wouldn’t exist, and Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage wouldn’t exist.
But here’s the thing. I was just muddling through. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know what I was starting. I didn’t see the big picture. I was telling my story, tripping over myself, hurting others in the process. My goal was the greater good but I’m sure my motives were not one hundred percent pure.
I started this journey – of attempting to help hurting women by bringing them hope – in fits and starts, with blinders on, out of my sin and out of my pain. I hurt people along the way. I said wrong things. I dishonored my painful past and those who hurt me and even God.
I’m sure I still mess up. Each time I open my mouth and each time I punch down on a key on my laptop and each time I reach down into the recesses of my heart or my memory, I open myself up to hurt you, my readers.
So I remind you again today that I’m just a girl. A healthy-broken girl. A girl with a past. A girl who has made so many mistakes. In my marriage, in my friendships, in my mothering. I am not a professional. I am not a counselor. I am just a girl
I come to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. –I Corinthians 2:3–
But I am yours. And I am open. And I am trying. And I am willing. And I desire redemption. And I desperately want to help. And I am empathetic. And I remember the pain. And I can taste the healing. And I can feel hope. And I can see what you’re going through, and I believe you, and I know it and I get it. And though I am weak and I come to you in humility and in fear and trembling because I understand how high the stakes truly are, I will keep writing and I will keep reaching out and I will keep making mistakes but I am forgiven and I am free, because I am God’s.
If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here, or “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here.
Well said. The view from the rear view mirror does look different and we can see some things we missed the first time through. The great thing about you being so open during the time of struggle is that you have put down a road map where there was none before and because you hit some bumps and pot holes you can alert others to them. They will travel the road differently than you because they have some other obstacles that will end up in the road but it will help them navigate around the biggest danger areas.
Do we ever travel our journey perfectly? I certainly didn’t and I am sure if I had a journal from my time on the separation/divorce road I would have burned it. When I got to the point of recognizing the abuse for what it was I was really angry and some of my thoughts were pretty dark and sometimes they spilled out. So I applaud you for your candor and honesty. It shows the gals we don’t do things perfectly but God is a Redeemer and he can make beauty out of ashes.
God Bless you and your ministry.
Cindy, what deeply kind words to say to me, that I have laid down a road map for others. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. -Elisabeth
When we are doing what we believe God has directed us to do, even if we are wrong, we are under His grace. He shields us with His grace as we seek Him and endeavor to follow His path. If we get a little mixed up along the way, He finds us, picks us up, dusts us off and puts us back on track. That is the grace and mercy of God, our shepherd.
Cynthia, I love this: “When we are doing what we believe God has directed us to do, even if we are wrong, we are under His grace.” Yes! -Elisabeth
Thank you so much for your encouragement.
This past week I told my daughter that it “feels” like we have the most complicated family in the whole world.
(I know that sadly, we do not, but it can sure feel like it on some days!!)
I was a pastor’s wife for 22 years with 5 children and now I have been adjusting to being a single Mom for the last 9 years…not by my choice by any means!
I appreciate reading from the perspectives of other women.
God’s grace is truly amazing…
Laura, you are NOT ALONE, my dear. Glad you’re here. -Elisabeth
I’m going to go Californian on you – (it’s my current home and it’s rubbing off on me) – Dude – you are awesome! I think I love you so much because you are one of us, just another regular girl, trying to get through each day, trying to figure out this thing called life. The facebook group you created is my safety net. I currently don’t really have one in real life but in the meantime I feel a little less like I’m drowning, and I’m pretty sure, you get that!
I totally get it! Thank you so much for reading and commenting, and encouraging me right back. -Elisabeth
Amen! God uses all of us in different areas and if you feel that God has called you to write then do so. Many will come to break you down, but others will be inspired. For “God doens’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called”, I read this today and I felt I should share it with you. May God continue to bless you, your marriage, and your family.
Thank you for the sweet encouragement, Gema! -Elisabeth
Dear Sweet Elisabeth!
Please don’t ever stop telling your story (well, unless God like strikes you w/ the lightening bolt!)
Until you started your writing I felt completely alone in my struggling marriage. I had tried to find someone
who understood me and my situation – a real human being, woman, wife , mother – who really knew what I was up against.
No one is perfect and we will never be until we hit Heaven’s gates and go to be with the Perfect One, our Savior Jesus. So, press on, sister, in what God is doing in and through you. You are ministering out of brokenness and that is where God uses us the most I believe.
You have brought so much hope and encouragement and brought many together on fb who most likely wouldn’t have connected otherwise – we can pray for each other effectively and supportively.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23
Love and hugs,
Rebecca, I just saw this comment…and it’s now one of my favorites ever! Thank you…I’ll keep writing unless stricken! 🙂 -Elisabeth
Dear Elizabeth thank you so much for sharing your story with us, it really has helped me in so many ways to know someone who has gone through a divorce like I am right now and has this strong faith in Jesus like you do and that I can relate with so much and that I respect so much. May God surprise you with a great blessing because you are willing to get to know God and trust in Him as you continue to face difficulties. <>
Aww, Melanie…thank you…what a blessing to have spoken over me: ‘that God may surprise me with a great blessing’. Grateful. -Elisabeth