by Elisabeth Klein Corcoran
Abingdon Press, 10/1/13
Paperback, 208 pages
To be a separated or divorced Christian is to be an anomaly, a scandal. No one knows what box to put you in or what to do with you, and this no-man’s land--pun intended--can be a very isolating and core-shaking place to dwell.
Elisabeth Klein Corcoran knows from experience. After extensive counseling, mentoring, 12-step groups, many tears, and even more prayers, Elisabeth found her 18-year marriage ending in separation and divorce. A believer completely in love with Jesus, Elisabeth was alone, drowning in a sea of emotions, and questioning how to navigate her way through the end of her marriage.Elisabeth walks readers through the varied emotions of being newly single in this collection of vulnerable and hopeful essays, expounding on some of the most common struggles of divorce: anger, faith, guilt, loneliness, and more.
What started as an article for Crosswalk.com, has turned into a calling to soothe broken hearts with stories, prayer, action steps, and Scripture readings, helping readers hold on to profound faith and reassurance in the one Love that will never die.Whether separated, newly divorced, or just considering divorce, women will find hope and comfort in these short, but dynamic readings.
The title of Elisabeth Klein Corcoran's latest book, Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage succinctly summarizes exactly the contents of her book. Written for Christian women who are going or have gone through a divorce, Corcoran shares her intimate thoughts and reflections on what she went through:
"What you’re holding in your hands is a narrative of my journey through the most difficult, confusing, and emotional season of my entire life. It is the chronicling of me bottoming out and then finding I wasn’t alone when I reached my end. It is the chronicling of battling every fear and every sadness and every judgment and then realizing there was hope and light and joy waiting for me. And it is the chronicling of not knowing if I was following God’s leading or walking away and then finding out that he was right there, as close as a breath, following through on his promise to never abandon me, no matter what." (Location 37-41)
The details and whys of what lead to her divorce are not intimated here. Instead she focuses on what helped her when her 18 year marriage ended in divorce. She writes "I am proclaiming—for the sake of your healing process and for the sake of falling lavishly on the side of grace—that I do not care how you came to find yourself separated or divorced, and therefore my specifics do not matter. What matters is the foundational truth that even in the most heartbreaking, soulwrenching divorce, you, and I, can find peace, healing, and resurrection." (Location 54-55)
Part of the problem of not sharing some specifics is that clearly her circumstances are not shared by every Christian who has a marriage end. Reading an article Corcoran wrote where she gave some details and insight into why her marriage ended (alcohol, abuse) was actually beneficial for me: Crosswalk - Unraveling.
Corcoran shares at the end of Unraveling that the book was written while she was still separated and right after her divorce as she wanted others to understand why their emotions are so raw and perhaps offer some help/support for them. And while this book is written for Christians it would also be beneficial and offer some healing and hope to anyone who has experienced a divorce. Because she already had a career as a speaker and writer, she was able to continue to be a stay-at-home mom, rather than a woman suddenly thrust back into the job market after devoting years to her husband and family. This reflects a huge difference between her and many Christian women who aren't as fortunate. I am a Christian whose ex divorced her after 28 years of marriage. My circumstances are remarkably different from Corcoran's, although there are similarities too. I will say that in my case parts of the book simply didn't apply because my ex wanted a new life where he didn't have adult children either.
I would very highly recommend Unraveling, but I would very highly recommend a DivorceCare group even more to anyone who suddenly finds themselves faced with divorce.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of the author via Netgalley for review purposes.
My reality today is that I feel like I am trapped in partnership with someone who cannot stand me, and I feel that I am not allowed to sever this crumbling relationship without being ostracized in my community and, worse, without losing the favor of my loving heavenly Father. Location 82-83
But I know that if you love Jesus and if you have been in a difficult marriage, those two things seem diametrically opposed. I know that you have probably felt emotions that were the complete opposite of what you thought you were supposed to be feeling, maybe for a very long time. And when you keep something like that to yourself, and when you allow it to finally see the light of day, raw is the only word to describe it. Location 88-91
Father, please enter in to my rawest places. I cannot even believe I feel the way I feel sometimes. I feel broken by my circumstances, and if I’m completely honest, maybe a bit abandoned by you. But I am choosing to believe that you’re with me as you say you are, and I am choosing to trust that you want to bring me full healing. Amen. Location 96-98
Having to step down from some fairly public ministries and having to find new things to do that are quieter and in the background has been humbling. Location 309-310
I heard author Henry Cloud say that transformation is truth plus grace plus time. Location 331-332
People can think what they want and be angry with me and kick me while I’m down till next Sunday, but my God is my Father and my Husband and he is not disappointed in me or angry with me. He knows my heart, he knows I’m desperately trying to do what’s right, he pursues me, he cares about my life and my sadnesses. He doesn’t make me beg, and, yes, he loves me. Location 347-350
I am learning, in my divorce, that my energy is better spent thinking about what kind of person I want to be and how I can place my hope in God and not others. I’ve got enough to work on in myself to keep me occupied for the rest of my life; I need to keep my focus on who God wants me to be and not on someone else’s journey. Location 410-412
There is a peace in our home now that I haven’t experienced in years, that my kids haven’t experienced in their entire lives. Location 470-471
My sadness makes me slower and less ambitious, so I’m trying to see and enjoy the smaller things around me . . . . . I’m grateful. I’m not just grateful for whatever redemption may come down the line, but I’m grateful for today. For the quiet. For the peace of mind. For the relief. For the knowing I did all I could. Location 475-479
Your children will look back on your separation and divorce as a defining moment in their lives, no matter the outcome. The best thing you can do for them is to be appropriately authentic with them, letting them see that you are finding your strength in God. And that, in and of itself, will give them strength. Location 534-536
Being on my own, I’ve realized that I cannot do it all, that I do not have to do it all. That some things are just going to fall through the cracks, and that’s what grace is for. Location 1168-1169