Using Even What You Don’t Want Him To

by Elisabeth Klein Corcoran

My website tagline is passing along God’s love & healing, one woman at a time.  I did not graduate from college thinking to myself, man, I sure hope my life is crazy-hard so I can eventually reach out to women who are hurting.

Umm, no. 

In fact, I did what I could to construct the sweet little life that I wanted so very badly: a Christian husband, two children, a cute house, church involvement, good friends, leading a ministry, writing while bouncing a baby on my lap. 

I dreamed it. And then I forced it into place.  And then I hoped beyond hope that God would be okay with the life I had created for myself. 

Except that sometimes, when you force things to fit into places that were never meant to be, there’s splintering and cracking and breaking.

I had talked my then-husband into proposing to me (both times: engagement number one, that he broke off, and then again for engagement number two).  He wasn’t ready to get married either time.  But I guilted him into it.  And we were not good for each other.  But I convinced both of us otherwise.  It was unfair to him, to myself, to God, and to our future children.

But we took vows and then fought for the next eighteen years, having babies, moving into slightly better homes every few years, and trying to live what our Christian culture paints as the perfect Christian life, all the while imploding and completely hurting each other and ourselves.

And now I stand here, on the other side of an eighteen-year marriage that has fallen apart, on the other side of my divorce.  For most of my adulthood, I was a hurting woman who tried to pretend she wasn’t, and tried to write and minister to other hurting women, as if I weren’t hurting, as if I had a clue.

Now, I am a recovering hurting woman, who will never again pretend I am anything but who I really am, who is beyond grateful that even in my messes I can have the great privilege and honor of reaching out to hurting women, because I was hurting, because I am hurting, because I do now have a bit of a clue.

Do you realize, sweet one, that God wants to use whatever your “thing” is?  He is not shocked.  He is not hoping you keep hiding.  He is not scratching his head trying to figure out how to redeem it.  He wants you to open up your hands and surrender it to him - whatever shape your pain comes in – and wait, in expectation, for him to use it to bring you healing, and to bring others comfort. 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 

–II Corinthians 1:3-4 (NKJV)


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. During her time at Christ Community Church’s Blackberry Creek Campus in Aurora, Illinois she began and led their women's ministry for ten years prior to moving to the city’s Orchard Community Church. As an outreach of her desire to help others, she has traveled to Haiti and Sierra Leone, and led a team of women to Liberia with Samaritan's Purse doing AIDS work. She lives with her children in Illinois. Visit her online at or on Facebook.  She is the moderator of two private Facebook groups: one for women in difficult Christian marriages, and one for Christian women who are separated or divorced. Email her if interested in joining.

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