Faith, that intangible yet vitally important thing to countless people. It has pulled people through the most hideous situations. People may not have come out smiling immediately, but so many have attributed faith as their guiding star in deeply troubled times. Sarah Udoh Grossfurthner has interviewed five women who looked to faith to sustain them during painful times.
Question: When a person is in a horrible situation, faith is wonderful. Tell me about the role of free will and small steps toward a solution, or at least, easing the burden.
Answer: First of all, these two – faith and free will – are not in opposing camps. Both are intrinsically linked because faith is a choice. Whether that choice is to believe in ourselves, in someone we trust or in God, when we talk about choices we are invariably saying that we are not coerced, but are making the decision of our own free will. As a matter of fact, the Bible says in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will eat with him, and he with me.”
Question: What are your thoughts on people who only use faith (without action) as their means of dealing with a heinous situation?
Answer: Faith, should never be an excuse for ineptitude. Even the Bible warns against this in James 2:14-26, when it said that “faith without works is dead.” Furthermore, for anyone who chooses the path, faith is, or should be, a guiding light, not a pretext. A light brightens your path and prevents you from bumping or falling into obstacles; it does not do the walking for you. Say, for example, you have a dream, but refuse to work that dream because you believe your faith alone will make that dream come true. All I can say is…keep dreaming. On the other hand, if you dream but fail to add faith…well then, you are trying to get from point A to point B without the benefit of light.
Question: There are people who are comfortable in dysfunctional relationships. If they have no emotional fireworks, they’re bored. What are your ideas on that?
Answer: There’s a difference between sparks, amid two people with different personalities living in the same space, under the same roof – even mothers and their children have this – and the term, dysfunctional. Dysfunction, by definition, implies something that’s not even working anymore. How can anyone wish for that and what emotional fulfillment can be found in such a situation?
Moreover, I know of no sane (or an insane one for that matter) person who would willingly stay in a dysfunctional relationship. I am no expert, but I’ll factor a guess that there are two reasons why hurt people stay in hurtful relationships. One is, because it’s all they know. As the adage goes, “the devil you know is better than the angel you don’t.” The second is, because they are afraid. This fear, in some cases, may not be for their personal safety, but rather, for the safety of someone else in the relationship – a child, perhaps. This may sound a tad simplistic, but sometimes, by the time this stage is reached, the hurt person has been so cowed and made to feel so worthless that she (or he) may actually feel that it’s her fault and that the way to make up for it is stay put and bear the brunt of whatever may be going on – a kind of atonement for a presumed sin. Dysfunctional relationships don’t happen overnight, they begin with insidious manipulation and mind games.
Question: How do you feel about the notion that a person can completely turn a difficult situation over to God and let it go, and this bringing results?
Answer: May I answer this with a quote I used in one of the stories? “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” Faith, Liz, can only be experienced. It cannot be explained.
Question: Former U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “There is nothing to fear, but fear itself.” Your comments on this?
Answer: Fear, as a noun, is like a dream. Without putting a dream into action, it bears no fruit. Dwelling on what you fear is the action, the verb. A dwelled-on fear is like a planted seed that’s being watered and tended. It must bear fruit. Hope this makes sense.
Question: I have read that life is a giant school and suicide is like dropping out of a class that is required for graduation. What are your observations?
Answer: I wouldn’t likened suicide to “dropping out of class.” A successfully attempted suicide is final. A “dropped out of” class/course can be revisited and the exams retaken.
Question: Can you describe a situation in which “irrepressible hope” doesn’t work?
Answer: I don’t believe there’s one. Losing a child or a loved one must be one of life’s most trying of circumstances. If a person can manage to find the hope to live through that, that person can manage to live through anything. Then again, “irrepressible hope” is a choice. You must want to have it before you can have it.
Question: We can create our own heaven, and our own hell. What do you have to say about this?
Answer: True, but only to some extent. For example, a person who’s being abused by the partner she loved and trusted enough to agree to spend the rest of her life with did not choose to “create” her situation. However, she can choose how she reacts to that situation. One may assume that the devil one knows is better than the angel one doesn’t, but until one takes the steps required to, how will that person know if, or not, that adage is indeed true?
Question: A companion question to the above; we can become what we think. Your opinion on this?
Answer: Also to a certain extent. If we dwell on that thought and allow that thought to indwell us.
Question: People will often say this to a widow/widower. “Don’t worry, (your husband/wife) is in a better place, now.” The surviving spouse can sometimes take offense to this. How do you feel about this?
Answer: I believe this to be one of the most insane and insensitive remarks to make to someone who’s just lost a loved one. Of course, it’s always hard to know what to say in these situations. But my philosophy is, when in doubt… say nothing.
Question: In your opinion, what is the most comforting passage in the Bible?
Answer: For me that would, without a doubt, be Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Question: I’ve heard it said that thinking about someone you love can help to ease emotional pain. Do you think this may be helpful?
Answer: For love to have a healing effect, it must be reciprocal. In other words, whilst it may do the heart good to think about a loved one in times of difficulty, what “eases emotional pain” at those times is knowing that the one you love and are thinking of, loves you just as much. Or even more.
Question: Let’s talk about angels. Have you, or anyone you know had any stories of encounters, or help from them?
Answer: This is delicate ground, Liz, but yes, I do. I myself have had a couple of those experiences.
About the Author: Sarah Udoh-Grossfurthner is a motivational speaker, mentor and creative author. Her purpose is to empower women from all works of life to see the best in themselves and be the best they can be. To this aim, she writes about issues that delve into the human heart. Sarah is also an established author of many poems. Her poetry tells stories of hope, love, bemusement and dreams as well as issues relating to social justice. For over 15 years, Sarah has worked to promote educational funding for children and youth from less privileged backgrounds in her community in Africa. She has also supported women in numerous projects including micro financing for small-scale businesses, vocational training and formation of cooperatives. Sarah, an Austrian Citizen by marriage, was born in southern Nigeria into a very loving and close-knit family. She holds a BA (hons) in Diplomatic Studies and an MA in Professional Writing. She is blessed with two children and, in her words, ‘they are my joy, my hope, my inspiration and the light that brightens the pathways of my life’.
For more information on the author and poetry, visit: www.sarahudohgrossfurthner.com
Interview by – Liz McKeown
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