I first met Dolly several years ago at a writer’s conference just after she moved to the east coast from California. Not long after she moved, she began teaching Divorce Care classes in her church. These classes have become instrumental in helping many recover from the devastation left behind in their lives after divorce.
I caught up with Dolly recently, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions.
Why do you have such a passion to minister to people who have experienced divorce? My passion for a divorce ministry comes from having gone through the struggles myself. I understand and I'd like to make things easier for others.
What is your vision for your ministry to divorced people? In my writing and in my Divorce Care support groups I would like people to feel loved, accepted and understood. I made many mistakes and would have done better with a little solid advice. The other day I told one of my Divorce Care assistants, "If I dwelt on all my mistakes, I wouldn't be able to lead this group." He answered, "I think your being open about your failures is helpful to people who are struggling. If I needed to lose weight, I'd rather my doctor not be someone naturally slim but a trim man who used to be overweight. He would understand."
What is your greatest joy in this ministry? When people come to me, they are falling apart, dejected, barely able to make eye contact. In the end, they leave with hope, nearly singing and always feeling they have the tools to get through divorce to a better place. People who read my book feel that way too, and all this brings me joy.
Dolly’s introduction to Moving On: Coping with Divorce offers a helpful metaphor that illustrates her heart to help others:
“When I was a child growing up in Maine I dreaded getting stuck in the spring mud or winter snow. Invariably we would spin our wheels with that unforgettable sound. Tension would mount until my father would cuss, my mother would pray, and we kids would try to become invisible.
In the end, we'd all pile out and shovel sand around the tires for traction. We'd push the car forward and it would roll back, again and again. The wheels might sink deeper or they might suddenly catch and the car would be out.
When I left home for college, then married and moved to California, I did not miss the weather. But the marital storms that eventually resulted in my divorce were worse. I felt stuck, spinning my wheels, unable to get enough traction to move forward.
Now, years after the divorce, I realize that getting through those times was harder than it needed to be.
To be sure, the struggles were difficult, but there would have been less tension and dread if I'd had an understanding guide—someone who had already found joy and peace on the far side of divorce.
I wish I'd had someone to soothe my insecurities, warn me about the miry places, and push me toward moving on sooner.
I pray that this book will be just such a guide for you.”
“All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 The Message).