Monday, November 4, 2013

Out in the Open

By Elisabeth K. Corcoran

“Here’s the thing I can’t say out loud to anyone who knows me: I’m in a miserable marriage and I don’t know what to do.”  I have heard this sentence more times than I can count in the past ten or so years and it never ceases to break my heart.  But there’s an even deeper sting when the secret-teller is a pastor’s wife or women’s ministry leader, which I come across more often than you want to know.

And I get this, I really do.  Not only was I a woman in a difficult Christian marriage, but I was a Women’s Ministry Director for ten years, part of that time holding a staff position at my church, all the while fighting – and hiding – my marriage demons.

I didn’t want anyone to know, for so many reasons.
I didn’t want to ruin my husband’s reputation as a good Christian guy with a heart to serve.
I didn’t think anyone would understand or believe me.
I didn’t think my situation was all that bad (turns out, it really was).
I didn’t think anything could be done about it.

I was trying to be an example to other women and this would blow the lid off of that.  (Who would want to follow my example if they knew?, I assumed.)

I didn’t want my precious little Christian life to be exposed.

Does this sound like you?  Are you a leader and your marriage is falling apart, but you are expending every ounce of your energy keeping the façade in place?  

Can I tell you something that I believe with all my heart?

Jesus doesn’t want you to hide anymore.

He sees you.  And he knows your heart.  And he cares about your pain.  

There is nothing that will shock him.  There is nothing too broken that can’t be mended.  There is nothing too far out of his reach.  

He can help you.  

Now, I’m not saying this as if he’s a genie in a bottle.  My marriage did not end in reconciliation.  But God absolutely did help me deal with the mess, look it full in the face, and surround me with a loving, godly support system to walk me through a reconciliation attempt, and then, sadly, my separation and divorce.  But I’ve seen just as many marriages turnaround.

Jesus says in John 8:32 that “…the truth shall set you free.”  He wants you walking through your life with integrity.  He wants you to be open and free.  He knows it’s terrifying – as do I.  He knows you do not want to upend your life – as do I.  But Jesus and I know something you might not yet know: authenticity in ministry is the best gift you can give to the women you’re serving, to yourself and to God. 
It may be a mess for a time, but sweet one, Jesus will walk you through it.  The dark will not stay dark forever.  Your best life waits on the other side of you telling the truth about who you are and what you’re hiding.  It’s time to be free.  It’s time to stop hiding.  It’s time to tell your truth.

Elisabeth Klein Corcoran is the author of Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage, speaks several times a month to women's groups, and is a member of Redbud Writers' Guild. Visit her online at If you are in a difficult marriage or find yourself going through a difficult divorce, she has created two private groups on Facebook – for more information email her at

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I receive these emails in my inbox but rarely, if ever, take time to read them (nothing personal, just so much to filter through each day:))
    Today, I read this one by chance and I all of these thoughts have been going through my mind all day today. I have come to the realization that after several years of verbal and emotional abuse and praying things would change, that they will not unless I do something. Wondering, "who do I tell?", "do I step down from the leadership positions I am in?", "where do I go for support?". I cannot tell you how timely and how perfectly this spoke to me today. There is hope!!