Flowers Are Not Enough

Hello my friends!

Coach LeAnne here, I love this time of year. The beauty and the brokenness of it all. I cherish the birthday celebration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and the many opportunities to share love, joy, peace, and hope with those we care most about, and it is also a time to mourn, remember and honor those we have loved, lost, and had to say goodbye to. It’s a both/and kind of life.

It is just before Christmas and many of us are searching for that perfect gift to give someone we care about and love. The options are numerous as the stars in the sky. How do we know which one to pick? How do we know which gifts will bring smiles, gratitude hugs, and moments of enjoyment? How do we best avoid giving gifts that will scream – Return, Reject- Run! What in the world were they thinking! Perhaps we know the gift to give because we know the recipient. We know their preferences, their values, their fears, challenges, wins, weakness, and strengths. How do others know what gift to bless us with? They deeply know us. They see us. We have given them the access to our hearts and we share the gift of belonging with them.


I was in a destructive relationship for 26 years. I left in 07 and I think my picker is broken, is there help for me?

LeAnne’s Answer:

I have shared many conversations about dating after divorce from a destructive/ oppressive spouse with friends, family, and coaching clients. I learn and grow with each one. Thank you for your question. Sister, 26 years is a long time to live in a relationship in which you have been devalued. For 16 years you have been free from living day in and day out in this relationship. I pray you are safer now then you once were. Because you have asked this question, I will assume that you would like to enjoy healthy intimate relationships as you move forward in life.

Let us begin our conversation today with a definition of a destructive relationship.

Leslie, in her book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage defines it this way. 

“A destructive relationship is one in which the personhood of the other is regularly diminished, dismissed, disrespected, and demeaned.” I call these the 5 Big D’s. This definition is a courageous gift of clarity for us all. Will we receive it?

Relationships are all around us- from the people we work with, to the friends we have, to the helpers we invite in our world to support us. The relationships we have affect how we show up in the world. Some of these relationships we can choose, and others cannot be chosen. They are gifts.

Entering the dating scene after experiencing an oppressive and destructive relationship can be scary, exciting, risky, and fun all at the same time. You asked, “Is there help for me?” I will say a resounding Yes! There is help and hope for you dear one. If, you can learn to steer clear of the 5 Big D’s. You can learn to choose and cultivate relationships “consciously”, with your eyes, spirit, soul, and ears wide open. Many people sleepwalk through life and through relationships… Let that not be said of you. 

As Christian women, we know that we are all sinners. We all need grace, mercy, and forgiveness. However, some sins, and behaviors should be relationship deal-breakers. Do you know yours? Both love and fear can keep us in a relationship for sure. BUT, abuse of any kind should NEVER be tolerated. God wants the best for His daughters. He promises to guide us. (Psalm 32:8) He will instruct us and teach us the way we should go. He will counsel you with His eye upon you. Let’s learn together how to choose friends, and particularly men who glorify God.

If you and I were sitting knee to knee right now, sipping hot tea or coffee, I would ask you to describe your “picker”. I would hold space for your history and your hurts. We would probably laugh and cry together. I would listen to your heart, your dreams, and the characteristics of the ideal gift of the perfect man for you. Then, I would ask you about the steps you have taken in the last 16 years to get healthier yourself.

Next, we would chat about your belief, “I think my picker is broken”. That is a strong statement, if you believe it is true, might fear be being the boss of you? Emotions are terrible decision-makers. 

Based on your questions, I’m going to make the assumption that you would rather not let fear push you into an unhealthy relationship. Good for you! My friend, what happens to your “picker” when it is fearful of criticism? Of rejection? Of disapproval? Do you hide the best parts of yourself? Or, in this relationship do you feel safe to share your ideas, your feelings, your preferences, and your perspectives? When fear is your driver- you cannot be free to respectfully challenge, confront, and even strengthen another human.

Finally, let me ask you this “If you believed that your picker was healed, what would be different for you? Write those things down. We know that toxic relationships can deform us. They can cause us to lose who we truly are, the best parts of ourselves can remain immature, and undernourished. And…if you’re concerned that your picker may not be fully healed, how do you heal that part of yourself? 

By doing your work to strengthen your sense of identity. You begin to uncover who you are in Christ. Psalm 139 reminds you that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and that your souls will know it full well. Sister, You are who God says you are. You are a new creature in Christ.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17) You have been set free in Christ. It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

I pray His voice will be the loudest one you hear. You can discover and take ownership of who you are. You have the opportunity each day to and receive the gift of courage to step into self-awareness, self-stewardship, self-love and self-care.

You can begin this process by asking yourself what your deepest values and your highest virtues?. Not what they “should” be, but what is important to you. Ask the Spirit of God to show you what you cannot see on your own. He is so faithful. I believe that to have healthy relationships, we need to be healthy ourselves. To grow to be healthy we need to do our own inner work.

True healing begins with a cry out to the Lord. Psalm 34:17-19. It cannot be rushed. You can be tempted to quit the journey into healthy land when you feel tired, lonely, overwhelmed and all you want is for any gorgeous man to charm you, bring you flowers and take you to dinner. Remember- Charm is deceitful, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman (or man) who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Proverbs 31. Do not mistake charm for character. You can learn to prayerfully pick on purpose, it will take commitment and time. You are worthy.

As you step into these honest conversations, with yourself, safe others and God, clarity will overshadow your confusion. Healthy humans are able to see people more clearly. It’s not that you judge them as unworthy, but you do see them as unhealthy. You can learn to love and respect others without losing the best of who you are.

God calls you and I to live bravely and with strength and dignity. He says in His holy scriptures 365 times, Be not afraid. It’s time to find your brave. Bravery friend, is a virtue and not a feeling. 

Here is your help and your hope gift – from my heart to yours:

You are much more than what has happened to you. You are more than your thoughts or your feelings. You do have agency to collaborate with God to become all He created you to be. The gift of the whole, healed picker is ready for you to claim. Let’s Go!

If you would like support in your healing journey, I encourage you to join us in 2023. You are not alone. Our six-month group coaching program called Empowered to Change begins in January, Please click here for more information. There are a few spots available.

Friend, What gift has God uniquely chosen and placed under the tree for you this year? His picker is perfect! He loves you and so do I!


  1. Caroline Abbott on December 21, 2022 at 10:23 am

    Yes, often when we have been in an abusive relationship, we will tend to pick someone similar unless we get a good amount of healing. This means not jumping right into a new relationship. Time and intention are required for the healing you need. Here is what I tell my clients:

    • LeAnne Parsons on January 17, 2023 at 9:34 am

      Thanks for joining us here as we talk about the importance of healthy relationships:) Doing our own personal work is so important to the success of our future relationships.

  2. Nancy Rivers on December 22, 2022 at 8:58 am

    Thank you LeaAnn for your loving & thoughtful advice to the sister’s question.
    You are providing true wisdom & awesome resources for many of us.
    I too have left my hubby of 45 yrs, yes it’s been way too long, I know so clearly for me to move forward. I’ve grown & learned so much from Leslie, the coaches, all the conquer Sisters & the abundant resources backed with scripture!
    I take your advice sincerely as I heal, grow healthier & lean into God’s wisdom & desire for me to become the woman He created me to be. Thank you so sincerely!!! 💝
    All blessings of Christ Jesus’s birth be with you now & always 💞💞💞

    • LeAnne Parsons on December 22, 2022 at 9:50 am

      Good morning Nancy,
      It is an honor to walk with you into all God created you to be. You are a gift. You are strong, brave, and resilient. Keeping Christ at your center is always a way forward into wholeness.
      Merry Christmas. 👣🌻👣

  3. Dena Bibb on December 22, 2022 at 9:20 am

    Great article! You mentioned 5 D’s but I only read 4. Did I miss one?

    • LeAnne Parsons on December 22, 2022 at 9:47 am

      Good morning! The 5 D’s- destructive, diminished, dismissed, disrespected, and demeaned.
      Thanks for sharing your encouragement! Merry Christmas!

  4. Alice Blackmore on December 22, 2022 at 9:54 am

    I love the descriptive words, “My picker is broken!” Often we fall into an abusive relationship because of what life served us when we were young. We didn’t know any better when we chose our partners because all we had ever seen were abusive and loveless family relationships. We marry the first guy that comes along who says he loves us because we cannot fathom that we are at all loveable to anyone. We put our hearts and souls into our marriages, only to find out,that history has repeated itself.

    It takes a lot of courage to leave a relationship of 26 years. I know, because I left a 31 year marriage. After I left, I spent many hours of searching to understand why I ended up in an abusive relationship and how to become an emotionally healthy individual. Leslie Vernick was one of the people that God put into my life to figure all this out. When the writer expresses that their “picker is broken,” I wonder if they are emotionally healthy? If not, they will continue to choose unhealthy relationships. Even after emotional healing, it would be prudent to ask a couple of close friends/confidents to vet a potential partner, take the new relationship very slowly, and always critically examine any red flags.

    • LeAnne Parsons on December 22, 2022 at 9:58 am

      Good Morning Alice,
      So grateful for your share. Inviting safe, trusted others into the fold as we navigate future life partner relationships is an important key into healthy land. They will see through our blind spots and provide us with important insight. With many counselors, Gods word says- victory is sure. We are stronger together.

      • R D on December 22, 2022 at 10:40 am

        So we are celebrating the loss of a 26yr, a 31yr, and a 45 yr long marriages. Yes, abuse is wrong and separation may be necessary for safety. Seems “Separate Well” is an overlooked concept in the book.

        It would seem LV is all about highlighting the 5d’s, blaming it on the husband ( pretty sure we are all sinners), promote cut and run, then push programs and groups that cost thousands of dollars to heal you so you can move on to a happy relationship.

        Why not work within the marriage and save the over 100 years of union listed above???

        • Leslie Vernick on December 27, 2022 at 2:19 pm

          RD – “Leave well” is an option in our programs. We don’t highlight anything but truth, healing and maturity. Yes, we all sin but healthy sinners take responsibility for their sin, repent and don’t keep repeating it, especially if it harms those they say they love. So for a relationship to heal and trust to be rebuilt after damage, what do you think needs to happen? I’m all for healing a marriage, but it takes real work and real change, not just promises.

          • LeAnne Parsons on January 17, 2023 at 9:35 am

            Real change, requires real work… amen.

  5. Connie on December 22, 2022 at 5:46 pm

    Recently a friend’s daughter divorced her abusive husband. I told her that if she is dating someone, tell him ‘no’ about something and see how he reacts. a week later she told her mom that she had gotten rid of a guy because when she said no to him, he did not respond well at all.

    • LeAnne Parsons on December 23, 2022 at 2:08 pm

      Hello Connie,
      How someone handles our “no” says much about their willingness to embrace a few of the healthy relationship characteristics we can celebrate. Mutuality, Reciprocity, Partnership, and Freedom. What other characteristics would y’all add to this list? ~ Coach LeAnne

  6. Julie DeCoster on December 23, 2022 at 7:48 pm

    I didn’t read the entire article sent to me I admit… it was pretty long but my take on what I did read was: I was in a deforming relationship with a man where I wanted to be married but he didn’t want to marry me, but back then I was young and hoped in time he would commit—which the more years now go by after that relationship ended and after he broke it off with me, after I’d been in it for a decade, the more glad I am I’m not in it and connected with him anymore….after he did break me it off with me as yes it was very destructive to us both. But for me I fell away from my faith for 20 odd years as a result I had fornicated which could have ended in spiritual death. But that being said I was just asking the question: didn’t Jesus say that if you divorce you should not remarry another person as it causes you or the other person to commit adultery? I sure didn’t say it nor did I ever want to hear I should stay as I am when the Lord saved me which was and is single. I wanted to be married I got my way it wasn’t good….but my people picker wasn’t good and I was very broken and I sinned badly…..and hurt that guy too— badly… was wrong for me to get into a relationship not allowed by the Lord—I’m not catholic but and I’m not sure people only choose to divorce because of infidelity…which was one biblical reason jesus allowed divorce without sinning…. but just because you’ve gotten healthier relationally doesn’t seem to say your doing what’s right in God’s sight by remarrying—but yes if you’re in an abusive or destructive relationship you shouldn’t stay in it. . I’m just asking the question of what Jesus said? And why he might he have said that. I’m single but not by my own choice…. I would have loved to have been married and not live a lonely life….but I want God to ok it…it matters little what other people or even I would say or if it seems right because one thinks they deserve it. . I I don’t think getting remarried no matter how much healthier you’ve gotten relationally is necessarily the solution that resolves all a person past broken relationships. It could help you heal but being in any kind of close and intimately relationship can be healing. And getting into another relationship you have potentially a while additional gamut of potentially new problems to deal with besides your own. I may be happier being in relationship with another. but getting possibly a little wiser and older I wonder if it is making that other person happier primarily or me I’m after? Cause Ultimately it’s really not about me. And being in non-marital relationships can be equally intimate and satisfying. I guess I do what I can. But it seems not everyone has that good option to marry. Though Paul says we do need to learn to be content with whatever circumstance God has put us in.

Leave a Comment

Ask Your Question

Have a blog question you'd like to submit?

Read More

Implementing The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: Is It Worth Church Discipline? Pt. 1

  Morning friends, I want to invite you to join my 2015 Do The Word Challenge where we are going to pick one verse per month (the verse of your own choosing) and practice “Doing it” throughout the month. Details are in my New Years Newsletter but if you didn’t get a copy, you can…


Am I Trying Too Hard?

Morning friends, I’ve had a whirlwind week of being a Nana. Love it, but it’s exhausting, especially when you are entertaining three darling little girls in 115-degree heat. But we did swimming and some shopping and playing games and today we cleaned “Nana’s office” so we could keep busy. This week’s question dovetails nicely with…


Focus On The Family Told Me To Leave. Was I Wrong?

Morning friends, I’ve been meditating on the women of Advent this season in the genealogy of Christ and have been so blessed to see how God uses and blesses women who have experienced grave injustices like Tamar and Bathsheba; women who are disenfranchised, stranded and broken by life’s circumstances like Ruth and Naomi and yet,…