Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Author Feature: Lisa Duffy

Today, I welcome author Lisa Duffy to the porch swing. In addition to being the author of several books, Lisa is a speaker and conference presenter who works to help people rebuild their lives after divorce. 

Hi, Lisa — welcome! Your latest book, A Road to Healing, seems deeply personal. What made you decide to write it?
Well, people often equate divorce with death. While there are some similarities, there are many striking differences, one of them being that when a spouse dies the surviving spouse receives a lot of compassionate attention -- flowers, food, visits, etc. 

But when a spouse leaves, the spouse left behind really doesn't receive any of that, even though they are suffering a devastating loss. So back in 2006 when people were subscribing to my website, I began writing these daily reflections and sending them out as my way of checking in with them to offer some hope or inspiration for their day and help them get through their suffering, knowing someone cared. Last year, the team at CatholicMatch had the idea of publishing this collection of reflections as a book with the idea it could become a sort of daily companion for the reader.

In times of crisis, it’s easy to turn away from the Church, and sometimes, even from God. What kept you connected spiritually during the most difficult parts of your journey?
Great question! Initially, I continued to go to Sunday Mass only out of obligation. For several years after my divorce, it was extremely difficult to be present at Mass with all the happy couples and families there. I was very angry with God in those early stages because I couldn't understand why he allowed my divorce to happen. I had great difficulty trying to reconcile the fact I was both "Catholic" and "divorced," and the pain and guilt I felt when I was in church was overwhelming. It almost convinced me it wasn't worth continuing to practice my faith -- that was the worldly perspective trying to take over. Yet, there was still part of me that believed practicing my faith was the right thing to do so I continued on. Eventually I came to the understanding that I would never find the healing I needed unless I repaired my relationship with God and fully embraced my faith. I went through the annulment process and worked very hard on deepening my faith from that point forward.

You’ve written other books on this topic. What can you tell us about them?
My first books, Divorced. Catholic. Now What? and the accompanying Workbook were actually the published version of the Journey of Hope parish program I had written in 2001. They were self-published because I felt the need to get something in the hands of someone who was suffering was urgent, and I didn't want to delay this by shopping the book to publishers and going through the lengthy acquisitions process.

The next book, The Catholic Guide To Dating After Divorce, was based on a talk I gave to an audience of single Catholics from all walks of life at the National Catholic Singles Conference in 2013. The message of the book conveys the fact that you can be attractive on the outside, but if you're not attractive on the inside, you'll have a hard time being successful in a relationship. So, the purpose of the book is to help people become the most attractive version of themselves through working on their interior life, not just their exterior appearance. Ave Maria Press, the publisher, asked me to write it to address the divorced community specifically so I tailored it for that purpose, but the book's message really applies to anyone who is single and looking for a meaningful, lasting relationship.

Can you share a little bit about Journey of Hope?
The Journey of Hope Program is a totally Catholic divorce support program for parishes and small groups to use. The book, workbook and video elements of the program offer a well-rounded, compassionate perspective on the many issues divorced Catholics face, and emphasize the importance of staying close to the faith and the sacraments to find healing. Journey of Hope has a 16-year proven track record of having helped hundreds of men and women move past the heartache of divorce and find happiness again. It is used in parishes across the US and in Canada.

Do you have any upcoming events you’d like to tell us about?Absolutely! I'm very excited to announce the Journey of Hope Conference for Divorce Recovery, August 4-6, 2017 in Charleston, SC. These conferences are specifically designed to offer much-needed support to the divorced community through offering compassionate and inspiring speakers, uplifting music, good food, and fellowship with other Catholics who understand the divorce experience first-hand. The first two conferences took place in Atlanta, GA in 2010 and 2011 and were attended by people from across the country, as well as Canada and Mexico.

Anything else you’d like us to know?
I'm available to speak at conferences and conventions and I can be contacted at lisa@lisaduffy.com.

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