On Guts, Garbage, and Abundant Grace

We need grace for the brokenness, sin, pain, and garbage in our lives. And, thankfully, God gives us grace abundant! In and through this grace, we find the courage to share our grace-story. And boy, does it take courage!

One person who absolutely embodies such courage is Elisabeth Klein Corcoran. She’s walked through a lot of difficulty in recent years as she has journeyed through marital separation and then divorce. And yet God’s sustaining grace has enabled her to use her own story to minister to others. She is the author of Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage and Unraveling: Hanging On to Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage, along with several other book and article (like this gutsy, honest TCW article.)

Have you ever wondered how God can use your past, your pain, your failures, or your brokenness? Keep reading . . .

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1940242_10202979925681396_1861604236_nElisabeth, tell my readers about yourself!

I have been writing and speaking for about thirteen years.  I’m a single mom to two great teenagers.  I seriously have the best girlfriends in the world. I love my church, my home, my dog, and going for bike rides (if spring will ever come back!).

This month we’re talking about grace on my blog. What’s one way you’ve experienced God’s grace at work in your life recently?

Over the past three years of walking out of my marriage through a difficult separation and a painful divorce, grace was withheld from me by other believers, more than I’d like to acknowledge. I’ve had people who say they believe in God look me in the eye (or metaphorically look me in the eye when they sent me an email or posted a comment on my blog) and tell me they disapproved of me or asked me why I hate men or questioned my salvation. Really harsh stuff. And in those moments, every single time, it did damage to my soul. And in those moments, you’d think that my heart would’ve just grown harder or colder or I would’ve put my guard up. But what ended up happening – only because of the goodness and sweetness of God – is that he used the pain that I received over and over when grace was withheld from me to make sure that I became a person who didn’t withhold grace from anyone, even on non-divorce-related issues. And I am so grateful to say that I have really grown in this area, showing grace to people and in situations that the old me never would have. It’s ended up being a really beautiful gift.

1620115_10202982464304860_871306973_nYou recently wrote the book Unraveling which candidly chronicles your painful journey through a difficult marriage and then through divorce. What gave you the courage to share such an honest and raw story — and to face some of the really hurtful feedback you’ve had to deal with?

I had three sources of courage to write so openly about my story.

The first was my writers’ group. When I first wrote something pretty public and pretty open about my separation, I was torn to shreds online. And I clearly remember jumping on my writers’ group Facebook page and telling them, “Okay, girls, I’m this close to emailing my editor to pull the piece . . . it’s just too much. People are being so mean.” And the girls totally rallied around me and told me that I had obviously touched a nerve, and to keep going. Unraveling wouldn’t have been written if it weren’t for them.

The second source of encouragement was the women who were leaving comments on my blog, writing me emails, and in my private Facebook groups (for Christian women in difficult marriages and for Christian women who are separated/divorced), because they were telling me over and over again that I was telling their story, and they were thanking me for helping them not feel alone and for being their voice. So I knew I wasn’t  just writing into some void. I had an audience and I felt they wanted and even needed me to push through my own pain and the discouragement around me.

And finally, from God. It says in II Corinthians 1:3-4, “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 affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  This verse has propelled me forward to not just take in the comfort God has abundantly poured out over me the past couple years but to do what I could to dole it out to other hurting women. Unraveling was my “so that . . . “

1940109_10202979925641395_181807793_nOn my blog this month, I’ve written about how God’s grace frees us and empowers us to share our grace-stories — to be honest about our flaws and failures as a means of sharing the power of God’s love and sustenance in our lives. What encouragement would you offer to my readers who may be struggling to see how God can use their garbage for his good purposes?

My best talks (as a speaker), my best books, my best stories, my best blog posts ALL stem from my pain. I can write fluff and light and funny and I have talks like that and I have blog posts like that and there is a place for that. But where God uses me the most and where my experiences have the most resonance are the ones that came out of a place of pain in my life, hands down, no question.
I would say to the person who thinks God can’t use her because of her past or her pain, that your past and your sin and your pain do not define you. They are not your full story, just part of your story. God is not up there scratching his head, thinking, “What in the world am I going to do what that mess she’s made?” No. I believe he’s up there thinking, “Baby, give it to me. Let me transform it. Let me use it for you good and my glory. You have no idea what beauty I want to bring from this, if you’ll just let me.”

We have a choice: we can carry our pain around like a heavy weight, letting it taint our every experience until we die; or we can give it to Jesus and ask him to do something amazing and then let it go and just watch.  I still can’t believe that my past twenty years of hard marriage pain and divorce pain has turned into this beautiful, sweet, peaceful, redemptive life I get to live, but it has . . . because God showed me exquisite grace and then called me to pour it right back out.

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Friends, I hope you find encouragement from Elisabeth’s journey as you consider how your own courage and willingness to share openly about brokenness in your life can be used by God to bless others. His grace is enough! Share your grace-story! 

If you are in a difficult or painful marital situation, or if you are journeying through divorce recovery, I encourage you to check out Elisabeth’s brand new book, Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage, or her book and Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage. You can visit Elisabeth  online at http://www.elisabethcorcoran.com/difficult-marriage-divorce/ or https://www.facebook.com/ElisabethKleinCorcoran.  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 at elisabeth@elisabethcorcoran.com if interested in joining.


One response to “On Guts, Garbage, and Abundant Grace

  1. Hey kelli! Just wanted to let you know about a new book I have coming out. I think it could be a good fit for your audience if you are interested in me sharing your space. 🙂

    > Hey my writing and ministry friends > > Many of you are aware that Ive been working on a new book along with my senior pastor and friend David Dwight. The book is called Start Here and its a sincere attempt from us to provide a fresh, honest, compelling book that can help new believers develop a foundation for their faith. Like most good projects, this book came from our own need to have something to give people who had questions, were seeking, or had experienced something but didnt quite know what to do next. > > Start Here is releasing on April 1 and you can read quite a bit of content on the Amazon page. Heres what friend and fellow author Bob Goff had to say: > > The story about Jesus is a simple one; so is his message. This is a book that blows the foam off the top and gives His simple message uncomplicated, accurate freshness. > > If you, like us, feel like youve struggled to find a book to give to someone new to faith, or if you are a ministry leader whos looking for a new resource to equip your church, wed love to send you a copy. > > If you are interested in being on our influencers list, please reply with your street address and well get a copy out to you later this month. For those of you who already wrote an endorsement, THANK YOU!we have your address and will get you a copy as soon as they print. > > Most of you know the drill: getting some tweets, statuses and amazon reviews will do wonders to get the book noticed and hopefully in the right hands. And if you have a ministry leader that you think could benefit, please let me know and well send one out to them too! If you have your own blog or circle of writing influence, wed also love to guest post if you would be interested. We can arrange anythinginterviews, posts, videos, dog and pony shows, smoke signals, etc. etc. > > Your names are on this list because your writing, your leadership and your friendship have influenced my own journey, and Im so happy to celebrate this new release with you. We are praying that God will do great things through our desire to help people connect with him in a fresh way. > > Peace, > Nico

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