Sometimes the hardest part of life is feeling like you never get an answer to your prayers.
I used to feel this way when I first moved to Texas. I was living in a new state, and I didn't have many friends. Years before I moved, I used to pray every night that God would tell me if I was going in the right direction. I assumed that I didn't get a sign, so I grew frustrated, and stopped praying.
Then one day, I found myself working as a cashier at a grocery store out of necessity. I absolutely hated that job. I was grateful to have it, but it was a terrible place to work.
What I hated about the job were the people who made it feel like slow suffering. Several people tried to engage me in verbal disputes, or fist fights. One teenaged demon seed screamed “child abuse" after I asked him to stop joyriding in the grocery scooters for the handicapped. And more than anything, I hated watching several grown men allow their girlfriends to separate his expensive food from her children's Top Ramen Noodles that she was purchasing on her EBT card.
Having to deal with these situations made me exhausted with the thought of going to work. It felt like I was just working to pay bills, and that was the value of my life up until that point. I would later realize that prayer comes with a caveat you have to be patient. What's more is that you constantly have to pray, then be patient. It's part of a formula that never ends.
[easy-tweet tweet="Prayer + Patience = Prayer + Patience"]
When you're up or down, pray or take a moment to self reflect. When you're done, wait for an answer. It's really that simple.
The grocery store saga of my life is behind me (thank you Lord), but I think that we're all sent little reminders of the Prayer + Patience Formula every now and then to help us appreciate our journey and the formula even more. For me, one of those reminders came from Ta'Rhonda Jones, who plays Porsha (Cookie Lyons assistant) on the hit Fox drama Empire.
Jones sat down with Cosmopolitan, and after reading her interview, I learned that the Prayer + Patience Formula can't exist without several important elements.
1. You have to have something to wake up to every morning.
From my experience, it's going to be hard to pray if you don't have something driving you out of bed. Even if you're okay with a montone life, you need something to live for, or something you can say you're proud of doing. The moment you think you don't need anything to live for is the moment you've become your own prisoner, because you're going to be holding yourself back from taking the next step. Jones describes knowing that living a boring life wasn't what she wanted for herself. She told Cosmo:
“I was a grandma. I worked a full-time job at a nursing home. Sometimes I would spend my whole day there just to make sure everything went right ... and it was hard for me to enjoy life. When I got done working, I would go straight home, go to bed, and then get up and repeat the same thing over and over. I never really got to do anything spontaneous like clubbing, like what normal 20-year-olds do."
What's amazing about following the prayer and patience formula is being able to look back and say that you overcame a difficult situation, and know that you learned something from it. And who wouldn't want to say that they are a shining example of how prayer and patience can turn any situation around, and possibly into a success?
In the interview, Jones described one of the toughest problems she had to overcome the death of her brother, who was killed a few months before her audition.
He was killed. He was 21. He was shot down. Literally, right down the street from my grandmother's house. He was with some friends, they were walking, and a van pulled up and they fired. He got shot in the leg, fell, someone got out of the car and stood over him, and not one, not two, not three shots — but 13 times in the back.
3. Make room for blessings.
I learned from Jones' experience that your life is not blessed with any experiences you are not ready to learn from. Whether the experience is bad or good, you're going to learn something from it. This makes it easier to recognize a blessing when you see one.
In Jones' case, the blessings was the new job prospect, and her brother who encouraged her to audition for Empire. She says:
“I originally tried out for the role of Tiana. And when I recited the lines to Claire Simon in Chicago, she's the casting director there, she gave me this blank stare. Because when I went in, she asked me if I had my lines, and I was like, "What lines?" Because I didn't go over the email, I just knew I had to be there at a certain time. I'm like, OK, I messed up, I blew it. And she was just like, "Nah, leave your name, number, email. I think I might have something else in mind for you." And that very same day she emailed me the Porsha role and told me to come in the next day."
4. Listen for an answer.
Without knowing it, Jones teaches us is that even if you're not a praying person, taking a moment to self reflect, and listening for an answer can yield benefits. She says:
When I got the call [that I got the part], Claire [the casting director], she teased me like, "Are you sitting down?" "Uh, should I be?" My knees were shaking. The very first person I called was my older brother and I told him. Because he was the one who called me [and told me to audition for the role]. But my little brother was killed April of last year, and when I got that call [that I was cast in Empire], it was five months after he was killed. And I had a job offer at a hospital as well, and I didn't know which one to take, the Empire role or the hospital job. I'm like, "The Empire role, I'm not sure where this is going to take me, but this hospital job, I know this is stability." And I prayed on it. I said, "Jesus, if this role is for me, I need a sign and I need it now." I keep a watch that belonged to my deceased brother. And when I asked for a sign, the alarm on the watch went off. Instantly. I quit my job two days later.
5. Enjoy the ride.
You weren't put on this Earth to not enjoy your blessings, and you can't control which people are put in your life to help you along your path. After Jones took her new job, she ended up meeting Empire's director Lee Daniels, who she thought was a little “crazy". She tells the magazine:
“The third day I went in, and I didn't know who he was. I didn't know who Lee Daniels was when I walked into the room. I was just like, "This man is nuts," because when I walked into the room he was yelling, "Yesss. Yess, honey, fabulous honey, yess!" In his pajamas. Blue, striped. I'll never forget it because I was just looking like, "Ugh, what is he doing? And he said, "What's your name, little girl?" And I said, "Porsha," because I got mad because he called me a little girl. I'm a grown woman!"
"That man that was nuts" ended up being a blessing for Ta'Rhonda!
The Prayer + Patience Formula can work for anyone, if you try. You never know what's waiting for you around the corner. So while you wait, stay prayed up (or just self reflect).
Catch the video below to see why we love Ta'Rhonda! Wishing her much success!