A Greater Love

I knew I liked Elsa well over two years ago. It was the fall of 2008, and my husband and I were evaluating Church Initiative’s DivorceCare curriculum together, watching and discussing the program’s 13 video segments prior to offering this class at The Crossing for the first time early in 2009.

Elsa Kok Colopy was “just” one of the many experts interviewed years ago to speak to the many painful aspects of divorce, and how the love of Christ is the only thing that can ultimately heal a soul wounded by the break-up of his or her marriage.

Many of the expert voices one hears from as he or she watches the DivorceCare videos are counselors. Some are attorneys. Others are pastors. But I think Elsa’s voice drew me in because I could understand at a deep level why she was one of the experts chosen. She is not a counselor, attorney or pastor. She’s not any of those things; Elsa was “just” another young woman whose life unexpectedly fell apart, and she discovered by living through some fairly awful times that only God could help her find hope again. Elsa’s “expertise” was learned in the messy trenches of life.

Early in one of the video segments, she confesses to feeling a deep sense of purposelessness and fear in the early days of her separation, sitting by the side of a river, chain-smoking and wondering how on earth her life had landed her there. She had a late-night waitressing job and a baby girl depending on her. In another Church Initiative production, Surviving the Holidays, she talks about the awkwardness of being a single mother and going through the Christmas season with no money for gifts. And she fearlessly takes on the topic of having known physical intimacy with a spouse – only to have that closeness taken away – and the intense difficulty of living out faithfulness to Christ with one’s sexuality after separation and divorce.

It is Elsa’s in-the-trenches experience as a single mother for many years, coupled with a genuine passion for Jesus, that I am excited to share with other single men and women in Columbia, Mo., Friday evening, February 11. The Crossing and Parkade Baptist Church are partnering once again to host this event, where Elsa will be speaking. This evening will bring great encouragement to anyone who is single or “single again,” and particularly those for whom the looming Valentine’s Day holiday brings up melancholy, depression or other negative emotions; Elsa will be speaking about the love of God as the greatest source of intimate relationship.

I spoke to Elsa just yesterday, and the genuineness and love for others that I sensed as I watched the DivorceCare videos came through over the phone, too. As she described what God has done in her own life, the passion in her voice rose. In relating to me how God had worked in the midst of her circumstances, she said, “A love relationship with Him really does transform everything. There’s nothing wasted, nothing He can’t use in your life. Broken pieces, whole pieces, He uses it all.”

“I was feeling pretty broken and lost (during and after her divorce), when some godly folks poured their hearts into me and showed me a God who is real. I came to a place of healing after a long process, and there arose a passion in me to pour back out. To let other men and women know that there’s nothing they have been through that disqualifies them (from being used by or loved by God).”

God slowly began using the events of Elsa’s past to bring hope to others through her words, both spoken and written. Having been asked to share her story years ago with the women’s ministry at her church, Elsa now speaks regularly to groups all over the country. Elsa also went from writing occasionally for a local paper to writing for and later becoming an editor for Focus on the Family. She is now an author, having published five books and hundreds of articles, all drawing from her deep personal experience.

At every step, she gives God all the glory; it’s clear to me that while she’s passionate about sharing with others what God has done in her life, she knows that even her passion is His gift to her. “God has continued to open the doors, and then gives me the courage to go through. It’s neat how God will use whatever gifts you have, even the ones you don’t know about!”

If you are single and find yourself longing to be in a relationship with someone…if you are separated or have gone through the devastating break-up of your marriage, and you despair of ever knowing that kind of intimacy with someone again…I hope you’ll consider attending this free event:

A Greater Love
Friday, Feb. 11
7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The Crossing Church
No charge; childcare available.
Please register online, especially if you will need childcare.

Speaking for myself, I know that absent God’s abundant love and grace in my life, I would still be searching for happiness in others. I suspect Elsa knows the same is true of her, and she would like to share her passion for Christ with us.

“It’s my hope that anyone who attends will get a sense of His love for them and His heart for where they are (in life). I want them to see God’s hand in their world today, and to allow that to draw them to His heart. That’s what real relationship is about – seeing His love and loving Him back!”

Living through the very real, very raw emotional pain of separation and divorce, it can be difficult to believe that God loves each and every one of us and that He has a good plan for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11). And it seems to be that when we most need encouragement and a message of hope – say, as someone approaching the annual Valentine’s Day love fest without a spouse or significant other – this is exactly when we are least inclined to reach out and open up to the loving concern of others. If that describes you in any way, I would invite you to try something different. Don’t spend the evening of Feb. 11 alone; spend 90 minutes with Elsa Kok Colopy. See you there!

2 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.

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