I had a phone conversation the other day with a friend of mine about the Oprah Winfrey interview with the cast of Roots on the miniseries’ thirty-fifth anniversary. I recalled the one-on-one interview Oprah had with actress Cicely Tyson about how Ms. Tyson appreciated the impact of negative experiences versus the positive experiences in her life. The conversation prompted me to watch that segment again and I found myself drawn to Ms. Tyson’s comments, especially the following statement:
“If you have a negative experience, which you think will bring you to your knees, and it doesn’t, and you survive that, just that much stronger… you’re richer. You’re fuller. You’re more in touch with what God wants you to be in touch with.”
Ms. Tyson went on to discuss about rising to another level after coming through a storm. Oprah then asked her, “You embrace the storms?” to which Ms. Tyson responded, “Absolutely.”
Every individual has had to deal with a negative experience or two at some point in his or her life. They can appear to be devastating because of the unfamiliarity of the unexpected. I’ve had my share of storms that have not only questioned my abilities, but also my faith in God: occupational stress, unemployment, death of loved ones, disappointing friends and/or lovers, financial setbacks, depression, automobile accidents, and suicide ideation. Sometimes it felt like I didn’t have the ability to survive, but I did.
Little things that go awry nowadays (e.g., broken appliances or a relationship that was a complete waste of time) no longer devastate me like they would have one, two, five, or ten years ago. I’m not saying that any new negative experience doesn’t bring me to my knees because they still do. However, I don’t panic or worry as much as I did. I feel calmer, relaxed, and tranquil, ready to address the latest storm on the horizon. I remind myself about what I’ve been through and my ability to cope with these situations through prayer, faith, strength, and courage. Although I don’t welcome my life to be composed of hardships, I give thanks and praise to God for those difficulties to embrace and endure the storms. Like Ms. Tyson, they have made me life richer and fuller, drawing me closer to His plans for me.
Take care and be blessed.