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Someone, somewhere in California, has won the Powerball lottery, with its attendant riches. Good for them. Maybe the money will afford them a better lifestyle, dig them and their extended family out of an economic hole and onto an affluent mountaintop. Money may not buy love, but it sure buys a lot of other things that can be easily substituted for love. I wish the winners the best. But I wonder: Will the money make them happy? Or will it cause unforeseen problems, a line of begging strangers at the door, unwise spending that leaves them feeling empty? It’s hard to know.

I see Oprah on TV, shilling for Weight Watchers. Apparently she’s still not happy, either. Not after her monumental successes, her philanthropy, her power and her wealth. She still wants to be thin. Or, as she puts it, to “have her best body.” Oprah makes me feel tired. She’s 61. When do I get to stop caring what my body looks like? Never? If all that she has hasn’t made her happy, will a “best body” really do the trick?

We all look outward for our happiness, at other people, at things, at conditions. “If I just had this or that, then I would be happy,” we tell ourselves. And we believe it. Maybe it’s even true. But over and over, I see cases where it is not. Cases of people who become addicted to plastic surgery, each time thinking, “This time, I will end up looking the way I want.” People who are never content with what they’ve accomplished, but keep seeking the next big thing. Are we genetically programmed to eschew contentment?

On the one hand, our itch for “more” keeps the human race creative. It keeps us seeking new ideas and new technology. On the other hand, it keeps us miserable.

Maybe we need to stop looking outward for happiness and turn our view inward: into our very souls. Imagine looking inside yourself and liking what you see. How would that change your worldview? How would it alter the way you approach other people?

I can’t say I love my own inner beauty just yet. But I know God dwells there, and that God is ultimate beauty, power and love. If I can just find God in myself, maybe I can know true contentment. Maybe we all can.

That sure would be good for us. Bad for the people who run the Powerball lottery, but certainly good for us.

 

I like to think that I’m a good judge of character. I’m also fairly savvy when it comes to spotting a sales pitch from somebody trying to sell me a bill of goods.

But I got an email from Oprah today. Oh, I know what you’re saying. You don’t know Oprah! That’s true; I don’t really know her personally. But I have to admit it: I just love Oprah. In some ways, I feel like she’s my virtual BFF.

So when I got the email from O – as some of us call her – and it said, “Convert to Digital,” I took it as a mandate.

I subscribe to her magazine, so what the email said was that I have the option of converting to digital format, like Kindle.

But I’ll be honest. Even if she was telling me to convert to digital in some kind of odd sci-fi way, like “Become a robot.” Heck, I’d do it.

If she said, “Replace your knees and elbows with robot parts,” I’ve gotta tell ya. I’d seriously consider it.

After all, they’re durable.  You’d need less skin cream in the winter.  You could do Zumba more easily.

To me, it’s as if she just knows things. It’s almost mysterious, the way Oprah’s been able to tap into the zeitgeist and stay relevant over the course of so many years. In some ways, she’s already converted me.

Seems like she’s been everywhere all at once lately, but in the back of my mind, I know she’s not omnipresent. And even though she’s got a deep well of wisdom to draw from, I realize that she’s not omniscient.

Most important, I know that she seems compassionate, but there’s only One on whom I call when troubles weigh heavy on my mind.

At the end of the day, it’s good to have role models, but I never forget my rock and my foundation.

So no matter who seems to have taken over the world – whether it be my icon, Oprah, or perhaps the robots themselves – I never forget who’s really running the show. And that’s what I know for sure.

Watching Oprah’s Master Class program, I thought, “Celebrities?  Trying to be teachers?  Yeah, right!”  So as I settled in and saw Jane Fonda’s image flash across the screen, I felt my arms folding and my mind closing.

I’ve always had a bone to pick with Jane Fonda.  Not that she’s lost any sleep over it, I’m sure.  But I’ve always thought of her as Hanoi Jane, the traitor who posed for a picture with the Viet Cong while our soldiers were fighting and dying in the Vietnam War.  Their sacrifice was the reason she had the right to say and do any darn fool thing she wanted.  Her right to express herself was absolute.

My forgiveness of her actions was not.

But what Fonda said on Oprah’s show really was wise.

“Muscles build from stress,” she said.  “After they tear, it takes 48 hours for them to keloid and then they turn into muscle.”

Life is kind of like that.  We struggle and hurt, and eventually heal and gain a measure of strength.

Tearing and repairing.  I’ve done a lot of tearing at this woman I don’t even know.

I’ve also said, “You should not be judged by the worst day of your life for the rest of your life.”

So how could it be I was unable to forgive this celebrity that had no connection to my life?

I was so set in my opinion that I believed it was a fact.  I don’t know why she posed for that fateful photo, but I know she regrets it.  That will have to be enough.

Tearing and repairing.

And in the end, it wasn’t even my battle.  I was mad at her for something she’d already apologized for and made it my job to act as judge and jury. Even if I don’t know all the particulars, she’s still a child of God.

Enough with tearing people down.  On to the business of righteous repairing.

God bless all of us who have made a mistake and hope for a second chance.  I’m pretty sure that includes everyone in the world.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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