Overcoming Divorce: Faith and Forgiveness with Lori Anderson
Lori Anderson is an inspirational coach, writer, and speaker. In her remarkable book, Divorce with Grace: A Book of Hope and Healing, Lori shares with us her own personal story of difficult divorce and how the G.R.A.C.E. process can turn past hurts and pain into positive steps to rebuild your life. She reveals her thoughts on how faith guided her to forgiveness and a new life of inspiration and purpose to help others.
ATF After experiencing the pain of divorce, you mentioned you were broken. Please share with us your personal journey of recovery and how that led to writing your book about inspiring hope and healing to others.
Lori Divorce really turned my life upside down. It was not something I ever thought that I would ever experience in my life. There was no way that was going to be a part of my life. I married my high school sweetheart. My parents were married, his parents were married, and my grandparents were all married. This was the last thing I ever expected, but it happened. We tried everything we knew to do to keep the marriage, including going to counselors and countless workshops, reading every book, counseling with our pastor, and attempting a trial separation. At one point, we thought, “Oh! what are we doing? We want to get back together. This is crazy. No…love should prevail.” And so, we got back together. We had things set in place, continued therapy, and it was really good for about a year but then everything that had been agreed to started falling apart. It was a quick downward spiral from there and then, unfortunately, it ended in divorce.
I still couldn’t believe it. I was so sad and broken. I just felt like my whole life was shattered into a million pieces. I liken it to the game Fifty-Two-Card-Pick-Up, where you throw up all those cards and they just land all over the place. Some are upside down and scattered everywhere. My whole life felt like that. How was this going to affect my children? I have two boys and, at the time, they were in first and fifth grade. The hardest part for me was imagining what God would think because I made a commitment when I took those vows and this is a big deal. That was very challenging. I had seen so many people who had been divorced, some for many many years, and I witnessed how many were stuck in a rut and living only half a life. You could just see they were stuck. I knew I didn’t want that for myself. I knew that I had to accept that this has happened and turn a different way to have a life that’s really wonderful again. So, I set out on a quest a journey for healing, searching for the best techniques and modalities.
I went to therapy sessions, read every book I could get my hands on, attended retreats and church retreats, spoke with my pastors, and journaled everything out. I went on an American “Eat, Pray, Love”-esque journey to California, walking on the beaches. There was a lot of self-discovery and looking at myself at what could have been different. I looked to forgive, truly forgive, and to forgive the situation. Then, I went to Sedona and had a really neat experience praying at the Red Rocks, then up to Minnesota where my family is. Layer by layer, I was releasing and wanting to rise up to become my best self.
It wasn’t always easy. There were times where I felt so sad and I imagined wrapping myself up in a cocoon of God’s love, crawling up into God’s hands. It was when I just surrendered completely to what was and accepted that things would be different now. Life is going to be different and you just have to accept that to move forward. What’s different is now I will be divorced and I needed to find out what that looked like. I trusted that life would be good again, beyond my wildest imagination, and kept the faith that it’s going to happen.
How this led to writing a book was truly a calling. God placed it in my heart. God said, “You have to take this and you have to go help other people”. It wasn’t something that I could just put aside. I was so busy with my kids and my other work with life coaching. When would I have time? I’d start writing it, but get so busy I’d have put it on the shelf, so to speak. Then, God would say it was timely and you need to get on it…so I kept picking it up and writing and writing and writing. He said you have to write this book to help other people. It’s important to take your mess and make it your message.
ATF Your book Divorce With Grace: A Book of Hope and Healing is based on the GRACE process. Can you explain those steps to us and how they really work for you?
E is to evolve. This involves really looking at the whole scenario of the marriage to the divorce and choosing to be better versus bitter. Make that conscious choice.
ATF How did your faith guide you through the journey of pain and suffering to forgiveness and a new beginning?
Lori God’s love is so amazing and wonderful. I would just be talking to God all the time about it and I would just imagine myself truly crawling up into God’s hands, as if I were in a cocoon, wrapped up and embraced by God’s love. At times, it was challenging. I remember going on a walk, just repeating over and over to myself to have faith. Even though you don’t know what exactly lies ahead, have faith and trust in Christ. It is going to be beautiful. Something so wonderful is about to emerge, but you have to keep walking in that faith.
I had faith in the unknown, trusting it was going to turn out exactly like it’s supposed to because I’m deliberately asking for God’s will every day and staying focused. I would take scripture, writing it on my mirror, or listen to an inspiration. Just taking five minutes to listen to something on YouTube is so important. Reading a devotional or going to a study is really staying connected in your faith. You need to also be able to be aware to witness the beautiful things happening, just thanking God.
ATF So many people know how important forgiveness is in order to heal. However, we all know it can be extremely difficult to do that. How do you personally define forgiveness?
It’s really truly a personal choice to deliberately and consciously decide that you are going to forgive and let go. It’s your choice to activate and cultivate forgiveness…that’s where the power lies.