Imagine going through some of life’s toughest challenges – rape, prison, abuse – and coming out with deeper faith. Patrice Gaines, an author and veteran journalist of the Washington Post, experienced some of the toughest things that life can throw out. Instead of turning her back on the Divne she has come through with deeper faith. In this interview discover some of the lessons she learned along the way.
Q: You have had some very challenging life experiences including facing rape and prison, but your way of framing your experiences is to see them as lessons. What are the biggest lessons you feel are important for all of us to learn as we grow and face challenges?
Patrice Gaines: Most important: Love yourself and recognize your magnificence. It took me a while to realize that not doing this meant I did not believe I was created in the image of God or not a Divine creation. It would be selfish of me to deny my potential because it meant I would not be able to be of service to anyone. When I suffered from low self-esteem I believed I was less than others and yet I wanted to give, but my giving was because I wanted to prove I was worthy and I wanted to be liked. Accepting the truth about my own divinity allowed me to give from a place of cheerfulness and beauty instead of a place of selfishness and desperation.
Q: In your memoir you wrote, “Neither racism or sexism can stop a determined mind or a heart beating with love…It’s a lesson for all people, regardless of race or sex; for anyone who has to overcome a challenge.” Please say more.
Patrice Gaines: When we love who we are we become incredibly powerful because we are not diminished by our own self-doubts and lack of faith or influenced by anyone else’s negative viewpoints about us or beliefs about our incapability. Therefore, we are not sidetracked by any of the “isms” or “phobias” like racism, sexism, homophobia. We are not deterred; we are determined to live to our fullest potential!
Q: Why do you feel that we have to go through challenges and hardships?
Patrice Gaines: I often say that you don’t know you have faith unless you have a chance to use it. It is the same way with demonstrating love, the ability to maintain peace, and all of the other attributes we like to think we have. We know what they are philosophically but life is our school, and we can’t just learn in the classroom and assume we know. We have to show faith, act peaceful, be loving, and do this at times of challenge and hardship. It is at these times also that Spirit is very real to us. This is when we feel connected and know that we are bigger and more powerful than we can imagine even on ordinary days.
Q: What would you like to say to people who are suffering right now and are struggling to find hope and overcome despair?
Patrice Gaines: Stop listening to the [inner] voice that says you have to suffer! I know that can be a challenge, but there are resources all around you that will help you drown out the “bad” voice. (We all have our own special voices that poke at our weak spots.) Know that the voice is wrong; you can make it. You might just need some help until you are strong enough to go it alone. So reach out to someone, read, listen to good tapes, watch inspiring TV or videos or online programs, go to church, temple, mosque, holy place or to a support group. God has manifested in a zillion ways for the good of us all. And this help will lead you to the Divine, but we each must find our own personal path. The first step is to not give up and to know it is possible.
Bio: Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss”. A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/DebraMoffittAwakeintheWorld