I had come home from church, perfectly relaxed, refreshed and calm one beautiful autumn Texas afternoon. Slipping out of my dress and hose and into shorts and t-shirt, I headed for my balcony with pen and notebook in hand. The coleus, vividly red with a tinge of pink and maroon and the array of other colored flowers displaying a rainbow on the cement floor, gave a perfect spot for inspiration. I looked at the blue water in the pool and listened to the gurgling sounds from the Jacuzzi. Smiling to myself, I relaxed in the hot scented breezes that were causing the two large Japanese Maples trees to continually wave at me. I froze in the heat of the moment- enjoying the steamy air blow across my skin. Turning my gaze upward, I began to stare at large, bubbling clouds inching lazily across a brilliant blue sky. The air was hypnotic. It was a perfect day and I was in a perfect place. I suddenly had an urge to try my hand at writing poetry. I began to write page after page of poems. It was nearly four hours later before I could or even wanted to stop the rhythmic words that seemed to flow from my pen. For someone who had never written poetry before, I was off to a swift and intense start. I was amazed at what was happening and how much I enjoyed it. In the following weeks and months, I concentrated on developing the poetry and began to craft the words with my spirit.
After many more months of writing, I began to share my collection with friends who seemed to thoroughly enjoy my work. It was my baby brother, Bishop T. D. Jakes, who asked that I share my testimony. Why not, he asked, write my testimony, my life experiences? I was offended. I had spent the last 20 years making certain I put as much distance as possible between me and an extremely challenging period in my life. Probing into old caverns of decay was not how I wanted to spend my time. I was continually told, “Someone will be helped.” Finally, I relented.
I am private, however; I have to believe and it is my greatest hope that something in my humble childhood, marriage and divorce; brain surgery; parenting alone, relationships, and in general what I have learned along the path of life, will be of great blessing and encouragement to you. I trust that you will be inspired; helped, and greatly refreshed.
Everyone has a heart and every heart has a voice. Somewhere on the pages of this book, Sister Wit, perhaps you will find yourself. In this reflection pool of print, you will see multicolored impressions, floating images, and resounding silences that speak clearly, directly and intuitively of many lives.
Enjoy this private, expressly-for-you, time alone with me.
Sometime ago, I met a business associate for tea. As we chatted, I was asked several questions about my background. I began to speak briefly about my childhood and its hardships. I could plainly see the disappointment on her face. I sensed she would have been more pleased had I said that our celebrated family originated from a long line of affluence and great well-being. I wanted to explain to her that wholeness comes from brokenness and that it is out of the fertilized places in our lives that rich, vibrant, and flourishing individuals are grown. That it is from the troubled places, the thorny places that we derive our greatest good, our strengths and our solidity. It required too much effort to show her that my classical background fraught with troubles, darkness, and despair were the very instruments God had used to strengthen me for my future and to stir up the treasures buried deep within. Instead, I drank my tea and smiled.
You see my parents, both college educated, would be considered, by today's standards, as the working poor. In spite of their formal educations, well-paying jobs were the exception rather than the rule. While we were poor, we were not powerless or excused from giving our best and gaining the best from life. My brothers and I were trained, not reared or raised, but trained. Trained to obey. Trained to know right from wrong. Trained to respect and obey our parents and trained to endure hardness as good soldiers. The fact that we lived for many years in a congested, poorly constructed house on a dirt road on the top of a mountain and that my parents scuffled each month to secure the mortgage payment, or, that our old car was always in need of repair, did not stop the dream my parents had for their three children. Yet, there were so many dichotomies in our home. There, in the midst of outright privation, my mother was found giving me charm school lessons on an old ragged sofa. I was provided classical piano lessons from a school of music. Ask my mother, an educator, a question and if not stated grammatically correct, she would hotly correct the question before providing an answer. Table manners were taught, social graces were practiced as we went to bed in cold rooms in the winters and hot sweltering spaces during the summers. Our home was a land of extremes. Yet, all of my foundation and childhood were the training grounds for enduring and surviving the years to come: the marital failure; the single parenting; the brain surgery that would take ten years out of my life.
When my brother asked me to share my testimony and to write what I had survived and overcome; reluctantly, I broke a 20-year silence and began to examine my experiences and unwrap places of terror, fear, and turmoil. For me, brain surgery was the single most life changing event. I had experienced the dark night of the soul and it was a night that lasted ten years. I had survived. It was an ordeal for which I had been prepared from childhood to adulthood to survive. More importantly, I had been prepared through my belief in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to survive and to overcome. It was the medicine in the Word of God that healed my broken life, ousted my fears, and restored my shattered soul.
Sister Wit has been my gift to you to share light, hope, and help. Silent as dew, I showed up at my laptop each night to birth the words to change and affect someone's life. Whatever you have experienced, endured, suffered, overcome, and survived, learn from it. Learn as I did--to spin straw into gold.