What I Learned About Prayer, Patience & Success From Empire Star Ta'Rhonda Jones
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!
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
We, as women, pray to God for the type of husband we want, but do we pray for the type of friends we need? Many women often imitate singer Ciara’s prayer, hoping it will, too, lead them to their “Russell Wilson” – an equally yoked partner.
Yes, finding a life partner is a dream many hold close to their hearts, but how often do we put the same energy into asking for the friends that resonate with our souls? As with romantic relationships, our circle of friends can make or break us. Therefore, it is important to pray for our "tribe" with as much intention as we do for a life partner.
Our friends aren't just companions for brunches and spa days. They deeply influence our daily decisions, shape our outlook on life, and play a crucial role in our emotional well-being. True friends can elevate our spirits during life's troughs and cheer us on during its peaks. On the other hand, friendships that harbor negativity or toxicity can sap our energy, hinder our aspirations, and diminish our self-worth. This underscores the imperative of surrounding ourselves with the right tribe, a circle that fosters growth, ensures mental well-being, and champions genuine happiness.
Wouldn’t you want to be seen as a prize by your friends, like you wish to be seen as one by your future man?
When Ciara navigated the painful waters of her breakup with rapper Future, the “Level Up” singer didn’t leave her future to chance; she envisioned her ideal partner. She actively, consciously, and spiritually prayed for the type of man she wanted as a partner. This wasn't just about a rebound or a short-term fix. It was about intention, clarity, and knowing her worth. The universe answered in the form of Russell Wilson, a beacon of their love story many now admire.
And after years of women wondering what exactly she said in her prayers, she finally revealed it. The singer recorded her purported prayer on Summer Walker’s sophomore album, “Still Over It,” released in November 2021.
Her words had social media in a chokehold, as women and men alike uttered her words in every relationship video they would post.
Choosing Your Friends Wisely
It is pivotal for us to visualize the friends we desire. Consider: Are they genuinely supportive? Are they the kind of friends who push us forward without pushing us down? Do they offer loyalty without conditions? By detailing these attributes in our prayers or intentions, we offer a roadmap to the universe, directing it to the companions we seek.
While it might be tempting to seek out friends who fit into societal molds of “fun” or “popular,” genuine connection demands more. We should crave friendships that go beyond the superficial, where understanding transcends words, where challenges breed growth, and where loyalty isn't seasonal. It's not merely about someone to share mimosas with but about nurturing connections that understand and amplify our life's journey.
When our tribe aligns with our spirit, the transformation is holistic. With the right friends, our confidence doesn't just grow; it soars. We're exposed to broader perspectives, and our horizons expand beyond the familiar. The positivity emanating from such a tribe influences every corner of our lives, creating ripples of change and growth.
However, you must also ensure you’re ready for what you’re praying for. In my opinion, it is unfair to ask God to deliver friends who pour into you, but you do not pour into them. While prayer sets our intentions, our actions seal the deal. Seeking the right tribe means putting ourselves in environments that reflect our values and interests. Whether attending themed events, volunteering for a cause close to our hearts, or joining groups with shared interests, our actions echo our prayers, resonating with the universe.
Embarking to find the perfect partner holds depth, but equally significant is the odyssey of curating our tribe. The right friends don't just accompany us; they shape our lives in unparalleled ways. When we direct our intentions and actions toward finding our tribe, we aren't merely forming bonds; we're crafting our destiny. The adage goes: "Show me your friends, and I'll unveil your future." Elevate your tribe to a priority, nurture those bonds, and behold the transformative magic unfold.
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Feature image by FG Trade/ Getty Images