I’ve been teaching a class at the local women’s shelter the past few months.  We’ve been talking about friendship with God, forgiveness, boundaries, all that good stuff.  

And today I was touching on a few intertwined issues, like triangles in relationships, tending to our own emotional acres, letting people live their own lives and keeping our hands out of it.  I read them something that I had written three years ago…it was some promises I made to Jesus and to myself about how I would try to conduct myself in my then-floundering-but-not-yet-dead marriage.

One sweet girl said she had a question.

“I just became a Christian in here.  I thought I would get better and then I would go back to him and I would help him stop doing those bad things.  But it sounds like you’re saying I shouldn’t do that.  Are you saying I can’t save him {from himself and his addictions and poor choices and hurting me more}?”

This is what I said, softly and gently, “You can’t make him stop doing what he’s doing.  He will only get help when he believes he needs it.  You do not cause him to do the things he does, to treat you the way he’s treated you.  You can’t control it.  You can’t cure it.  So no, honey, I’m so sorry to tell you this but you cannot save him.”

Crying now, she said, “But that was my plan.”

To every woman out there who thinks that if only she were a better Christian, a better wife, a better mother, a better lover, a better cook, that if only she kept her mouth shut, that if only, if only, if only…  You can stop now.  You can take a breath.  You can lay that burden down.  If you are being hurt in your relationship physically, emotionally or spiritually, you didn’t cause it, you didn’t bring it on yourself, and you cannot stop it from happening by being a better anything.  I’m sorry, sweet girl, but no, you cannot help him, you cannot stop him, you cannot save him.  You need a new plan.

If you are in physical danger, leave.  If you are in emotional danger, minimize the influence he has on you and put up boundaries.  If either is the case, it’s time to get help.  Please.  You have the power to break the cycle of what’s happening to you.  You may feel option-less but there is always help available.  You can go to your church leadership, a local community organization, a counselor, a friend.  

Stop letting yourself get beaten up or beaten down, and stop beating yourself up for supposedly not being good enough.

Through Christ, you are already good enough.  And through Christ, God is good enough for you and he will take care of you.

Elisabeth K. Corcoran is mom to two teenagers.  She loves spending time with her kids, her friends, reading and writing.  She is the author of At the Corner of Broken & Love: Where God Meets Us in the Everyday; One Girl, Third World: One Woman’s Journey into Social Justice; He Is Just That Into You: Stories of a Faithful God who Pursues, Engages, and Has No Fear of Commitment; In Search of Calm: Renewal for a Mother’s Heart; and Calm in My Chaos: Encouragement for a Mom’s Weary Soul.  All these books can be purchased on Amazon.com in paperback or Kindle. 

Visit her website at www.elisabethcorcoran.com and her blog at http://elisabethcorcoran.blogspot.com/.

If you find yourself in a difficult marriage or have gone through a painful divorce and you’re looking for a safe place to find encouragement and hope, you may email at Elisabeth at elisabethkcorcoran@gmail.com and request to be added to her private Facebook group for women like yourself.

You can follow her on Twitter at ekcorcoran or friend her on Facebook.

Watch Elisabeth and her friends spread hope through Africa with Samaritan’s Purse.

Elisabeth is a proud Member of Redbud Writer's Guild.

Publiction date: August 16, 2012