Q&A with ‘Going Through Hell to Get to Heaven’ Author Dr. Scot Hodkiewicz

Scot HodkiewiczDr. Scot Hodkiewicz is a veterinarian who lives in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, with his wife, three children, and a menagerie of animals. He never intended to be a writer until he
was moved to share the story of his near-fatal car accident—caused by a drunk driver—and his resulting journey of faith.

With Going Through Hell to Get to Heaven, Scot hopes his memoir becomes a trusted companion for other Christians seeking to walk more closely with God.

What prompted you to write your memoir and share your personal experiences with readers?

We went through an incredible journey. It started out tragically, and through all types of twists and turns, ups and downs, and surprises that no one could have foreseen, it ended up as the best thing that could have happened to us. I could never have guessed that I would be saying that after having my entire family—everything that was important in my life—very nearly destroyed in an instant. It is a truly amazing story of how tragedy can be a blessing. This story just had to be told.

Going Through Hell to Get to HeavenHow did reliving your most painful experiences—a near-fatal car crash, the ensuing recovery, your addiction to pain pills—affect you? Did it feel therapeutic, or was it harder than you anticipated?

Reliving this was very painful. I had buried the hardest parts of our ordeal far away; they were just too upsetting to deal with. Writing the book brought all those memories back to the surface and forced me to explain each one of them in great detail. It would have been easier to gloss over things as I told the story, especially my drug addiction. Yet it was those very raw and painful moments that connect with people. It took me years to write this book and to get it right. That time allowed me to fully understand how these events changed me. Reflecting upon the struggle we went through and how it directed us onto God’s path was the best therapy I could have asked for.

What did you learn about yourself in the process of writing your book?

The first version of the book was more just a chronological narrative of what happened. To be honest, it was not very interesting. There was a message there that had to get out. This is a story of hope, not just a series of events. God kept telling me, “You can do better.” When I listened, the story told itself and people connected.

Why do you feel your story is suited for Christian groups and readers trying to grow in their faith lives?

When the crash happened, I was Christian in name only. God used this terrible event to wake me up. He showed me what I refused to see: that He was in charge and I needed to listen to Him. It was a slow process with a lot of wrong turns, but He kept turning me back to the faith. Christians always want to grow closer to the Lord. For me, I had to give up the control we all want and think we can achieve. Our story shows us that control of our lives is an illusion. Once we give that up, we can finally see all the wonders of this world and God’s love for us. God was with us in our struggle, and that struggle brought us closer to Him. As people learn to trust in His plan, not our own, we get ever closer to God. Completely trusting in Him is true faith.

You’ve lived through some extraordinary tragedies and challenges. Why does your book resonate with readers who have not endured such difficulties?

I was leading a pretty easy life before the crash. I grew up in a stable, loving family in a supportive community. I had achieved everything that I had set out to do, and life was going well. I reference my “great plan” for my life and I was following it to the letter. That plan was taken away through no fault of my own. Those who have not endured challenges are like me before the crash. At some point, we all will face adversity. What I learned is to embrace these challenges because they are what push us to grow in faith and strength. They are the spiritual workout we all need to find God and find our heaven. For those who have not gone through their own hell, they will be prepared when that day comes.

What’s the primary takeaway you hope readers get from Going Through Hell to Get to Heaven?

Our crash showed us that there is Hell on Earth, but our recovery showed us that Heaven is here also. It took nearly dying and a terribly painful recovery, but I finally saw Heaven through the angels that came into my life. Though it was not my choice to be in the Hell I was in, it was my choice whether I stayed there. Leaving Hell is easier said than done because you have to do something that we are all reluctant to ever do: You have to leave the anger and hate behind. If you hold onto those things, you will be stuck in Hell. The hard part is that you can only get rid of hate and anger through forgiveness, and forgiving someone who hurt everyone you love is not easy. I finally took the Lord’s Prayer to heart and listened to His words: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Once I forgave the man that nearly killed myself and my entire family, I was able to leave my Hell and see God and Heaven all around me. The best part is that once I forgave the man who did something that terrible to me, it became really easy to forgive everyone else. That peace that forgiveness brings opens the doors to Heaven, and it is right here on Earth. I know, because I now see it every day.