I personally know Carol Guscott. I met her at a women’s prayer group many, many years ago. She, her story, & what God continues to do through her life amazes me. When I started reading her book, Face Of Hope: The Carol Guscott Story, it was hard to put down! Go to Tate Publishing & Enterprises, LLC to purchase the paperback copy, or the “digital download” ebook. Once you receive the paperback, you’ll get a one-time code to download the ebook for free, anyway!
Carol Guscott, author of Face of Hope: The Carol Guscott Story, is my 1st Author interview (November 2011). On the back cover of her book you’ll read:
“On one seemingly ordinary day, Carol Guscott, a young Jamaican woman, was brutally attacked by two men. Left blind and disfigured, she became determined to travel to the United States to find healing and restoration. After various surgeries and setbacks, she found inspiration in the kindness of strangers. This is her story.
Face of Hope: The Carol Guscott Story chronicles the true tale of survival and intense hope of one resolute woman, who never gave up, never lost faith, and though disfigured and blind, never lost sight. This is a story about the power of hope, faith, forgiveness, and motivation.”
As I re-open Carol’s book to prepare interview questions, I get chills. Since having read Face of Hope many months ago, recalling deep issues of her true, personal memoir still touches my heart. For instance, in chapter two, Carol describes seeing a vision, just after the attack:
Vanessa: Carol, minutes after battery acid was thrown at you, even though you had instantaneous burning of skin and eyes, horrendous pain, and blindness, you somehow left the sense of present-day-reality. And instead, for a short while, all you saw was a vision, detailed with scenes of hope. How soon did you believe that vision was from God? Did you often think about it while still in Jamaica, before coming to America?
Carol: Yes, I knew God was there with me in torment. When I share my story on my feet, I tell that experience. Shortly after I was admitted into a hospital that had no facility to treat my so severe injuries, the beauty of that vision came back to me again and again, as I lay in pain in that hospital bed. In my distress, I pondered upon the vision, wondering, “Will God deliver me out of Jamaica, and give me favor in another country? Is my vision actually the revelation of my future life in another country?” I recalled the Bible prayer, Psalm 23. I thought, “I don’t believe my mind is playing tricks on me. Somehow, with God’s help, I will put myself back together again.” I didn’t believe I would stay broken like a beggar at a street corner, stretching out a bowl to receive coins for the rest of my life!”
Vanessa: One of the main themes that I see running throughout Face of Hope is God bringing good out of evil. Even before the attack, you experienced serious tribulations, which you flashback to a few times. Back then, having been raised in a Christian home and being a Christian yourself, did you realize or consider that theme as being an attribute of God?
Carol: Yes! God has always been close to me. I have felt God’s closeness. Even when I was not too close to Him, He was always near.
Vanessa: I was saddened when I read the occurrences of injustice by unmerciful people after the attack, especially by those professing to be fellow Christians. It reminded me of King David in the Bible and his Psalms. Although you beautifully describe your path to forgiving the attackers, how difficult was it to forgive those professing Christians?
Carol: Sin is cruel. What those people did lodged inside me. Satan is a master at re-runs and he re-runs events over and over again. It was very difficult for me to let go. I had expected that things would be on the up-and-up. So I was astonished by the bad news. And whenever the hurtful things returned to mind, sweet sleep couldn’t pour into me for days, because I was filled to the brim with bitter yearnings. I wanted a better life than being consumed with anger, bitterness, and hatred. As I pursued healing, I saw that the anger, hatred, and bitterness in my heart were a blockage in both my physical life, as well as my spiritual walk.
One day while I was praying, a seed of truth dropped into my life:
Scriptures say that in the same way that God has forgiven us, we too must be willing to lie all down and forgive every person who hurts us. I had to do what is necessary to move into that same forgiveness that Jesus has secured for me. I had to forgive all of whatever there was to forgive.
Today, I am set free from all the bad things of the past, because the love of God is bigger than any hate. The love of God is a love that knows no barriers. When we walk in the Spirit of God, it goes against our natural minds. It is God’s great plan that we, His people, rise up beyond our personal hatreds, and not fall to the devil’s temptations of despair, darkness, and easy thoughts of hate and destruction. But instead, we are to see beyond those thoughts, in order to see that making peace within ourselves and with all fellow human beings is the only way we can only truly survive and freely live. I still feel the pain and loss, but not the anger and the bitterness. I am at peace.
Vanessa: Also in the book, in the midst of suffering, you show wonderful occurrences of bountiful blessings to you from God, and grand opportunities of sharing your story via speaking engagements, including television. It makes me want to shout, “Hurray, praise God!” Here in a few sentences, can you give encouragement to victims of any kind of circumstances, to not let circumstance make them permanently bitter, but “better?”
Carol: Well, I want victims to know that we are living in a sinful, fallen world. Things are going to happen in our lives that we do not want, do not like, and do not understand. But when bad things happen, we can find rest and peace if we lean on the promises of God. We can trust the promises of God! He promises that He will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), and He is the God that causes all things to work together for good, if we love Him (Romans 8:28). In Isaiah 43:18-19, God told Israel not to be focused on the bad things that had happened to them, nor dwell on them; this was, and still is an act of faith and belief in God. Like Israel, God is calling us to break free, move forward, and let His Words always be actively living within us. He promises that He will pull us through anything that we are going through. Concerning our lives, He will even “make a roadway in the wilderness, (and) rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19). We can, and must trust God on His promises.
Vanessa: Because I believe that grief is a process of healing, I wonder if you still ever have any remaining sad feelings or memories that bring you back to calling out to Christ for comfort?
Carol: What those people did stayed lodged inside of me for a while. Satan is a master of re-runs and he re-runs bad memories over and over again. But God is Conqueror, and He will conquer our ungodly thoughts, if we call out to Him. (2 Corinthians, chapter 10)
Vanessa: In 2 Corinthians, chapter 1, we’re told to comfort one another with the same comfort that God gives us. But we don’t often meet other Christians who’ve experienced such horrific traumas as you have. Have you been able to feel comforted by others? Or have you felt that no one, other than Jesus, could understand your pain? Have you developed any Biblical heroes to relate to?
Carol: I agree with you about my degree of suffering. Most people will never be able to fully relate to my story, which is one of being burned, blinded, and left to die. Having experienced a “living-hell-like” mode of existence, I wandered each day, wondering if I would survive and conquer the hatred I knew, with the faith I have, and the forgiveness I needed to give.
However, I have been comforted by many people. People from all walks of life have comforted me in some ways; from Hollywood celebrities, to prisoners in New York City, to very poor and down trodden individuals living on the streets of California — I have found comfort from them all.
On my journey, I’ve met many Christians suffering from afflictions, but nothing close to what I have suffered. I wanted to have a kind of friendship with these people, thinking we are all suffering from affliction. But when I reached out to them, I found nobody there reaching out to me; no hand of friendship was ever extended back to me.
My sufferings affected my Mom greatly, but I do think that only Jesus Christ alone knows all about my suffering. He alone really understands the degree of my pain.
My number one Biblical hero is Job! Coming to America, I truly believed that I would find the kind of healing Job received, as described in the Old Testament. Not only was Job’s body restored, but also his business. His life was restored anew, even better than before his affliction. I too was truly looking forward to that kind of healing with the advanced technology available here in America. After 80 surgeries and procedures to regain my sight and face, I discovered that in spite of the surgeries and prayers of hundreds of people, God was not going to heal me like Job, or make it easy for me. It has been very difficult for me, and yet God has strengthened my character, given me a ministry of helping people, given me a testimony, and drawn me closer to Him, and to people.
My second Biblical hero is Joseph of the Old Testament! God had a purpose for his life, and I feel like God is going to lift me up also, and use me mightily for His Kingdom.
Vanessa: You write about having been blessed to receive professional Christian counseling. Would you advice other victims of trauma to also receive therapy, if possible?
Carol: Yes! If it is possible for a victim of any crime to receive a trained mind to listen to the pain, go for it! We are only humans, living in this sinful fallen world. We all need a sense of purpose. We all need a vision for our future. We don’t have to know the exact details of it; we just need to know that we have one, and that it is good. So, we need to be encouraged by the trained minds given to us. While going through suffering, we need to be assured by a trained mind that out of the pain and brokeness, we can turn the page to write new chapters for our lives, to find healing and fulfillment. When negative voices come, it is always good to have a trained mind that we can go to with our burdens.
Vanessa: How has writing your memoir helped bring spiritual/emotional healing to you?
Carol: My writing was therapeutic for me to have, to sit and write and sort out my life’s story. Sometimes to move forward, we must be willing to look back at the life that was! When I had my Jamaican business, I had a vision of success dancing in my head. But when the horrific tragedy happened, with my health driven away and my success not within me, I was devastated! I felt like my life was empty, without meaning and without purpose. I was ruined from the outside-in, stagnant, and not going anywhere in particular. Voices would tell me that I was of no value and I would never be of worth to society. To live would mean that I would be spending the rest of my days taking crumbs off from someone else’s table.
As years passed, and it became obvious that I could not return to the old self — the old Carol Guscott, there was an overwhelming desire within me to start life all over again, by finding a career path that would give me purpose and meaning. Wanting people to ask me what I do for a living, I wanted to be able to hold my head up high and tell something worthwhile. So I vowed to find a way out of my stagnant life. Now, with my published book and the official release of it, plus the launching of my speaking ministry, I can truly say I have purpose in life – I am an Inspirational Speaker and Writer.
Vanessa: Are there any words of wisdom you can give to us fellow writers about writing our own memoirs, or advice on self-discipline to reach our publishing goal, as you did?
Carol: When I was writing my memoir, I was often times challenged by a new criticism or new doubt. But I decided to persevere. So my advice to writers wanting to be published is, “Writers, never give up! Trust in God and believe that like everyone else, you are here for a purpose. If the writing you are pursuing is truly what God’s wants from you, you will have the energy to do it well, and the people you will need to help you on your writing journey will show up, too.” The vision I had at the time of my horrific tragedy (seeing myself in a different country, and having opportunities to speak and write) would come to mind often. I considered: “I have not been trained as a writer, I have no writing education, and I know nothing about the intricate depths of grammar.” But deep down in my heart, I felt like I could write and speak, and I believed the public would love my book and presentation, too. This was the beginning of me telling myself that I could take my life in an upward turn, and that I was cut out for something other than a victim role of poverty. With determination in my heart, with the perseverance within me, I vowed I would write and publish my story. I did it. So, I’d also tell writers that if they feel and know they are to pursue writing, make the choice to not let go. Make the choice to find courage and commit to perseverance. When rejections come, and negative voices begin talking in your head, find the courage to not let go, and everything will be just fine.
Vanessa: Have you ever thought about getting a trained guide dog?
Carol: When I was attending the school for the blind for rehabilitation, I was introduced to the guide dog, and to the walking stick — the cane. I accepted the walking stick, but not the guide dog, as my means of mobility. Often, people have asked why I don’t get a guide dog! My answer is that I am not an animal person; I am a gardener. I find pleasure in gardening. I rather go outside with my walking stick and play in the dirt with plants, while planting flowers and vegetables for my usage, rather than caring for a dog. I simply don’t have a guide dog, because I don’t want the responsibility that comes with a guide dog.
Vanessa: I felt warmth as I read about your relational closeness of you and your Jamaican family. I hope they all are well today. Do you mind if I ask how your son is doing? Do you hope to visit Jamaica in the near future?
Carol: My son Dale is all grown up, and is doing what he likes, which is working in the entertainment industry. His job choice is not what I, as his mother, wanted him to pursue, and I let him know that. He is now twenty-six years old, and six feet and three inches tall. He’s a big young man! My mother and brother are doing well living in Jamaica. Mom will be coming to visit me next year, and I will make plans to visit Jamaica, then.
Vanessa: Congratulations on completing all your speaking training! Do you plan to keep speaking? How about writing? I know you’re just finishing up your Web site, and a YouTube video. How can people reach you, if they want you to speak at their church or event?
Carol: My speaking ministry goes with the book. I am primarily speaking to promote the book. God allowed me to go through everything, so that I may help hurting people going through anything. So it is my desire to pursue speaking and writing with passion. The sufferings God allows in our lives He uses for good. His glory will be revealed in our sufferings.
I am working on the first draft of my second book, called Molly Rose. It’s a story of how a child will find a way to cope with a sudden disability, such as blindness. With my eyes blind and my beauty gone, I am working hard on this book. I know I am alive for a purpose, as we all are. So I strive with gratitude, to do my best with my writing and speaking. I am so aware that things in life don’t come easy. The mentality that I was raised with was that we must fight for everything we get. We should strive to be the best. And even when reach our best and get what we’ve fought for, we must become even tougher to hold onto it.
I may be contacted at my website, www. CarolGuscott.com. I can be found at my Facebook page, Face of Hope: The Carol Guscott Story. I also have an Amazon Author Central page, or people may just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vanessa: Thank you, Carol. You’ve been added to my list of heroes and herons!