I suppose you would have to be living on an island, in the middle of the ocean…and not the good kind of island, either. I’m talking about a few trees and a strip of sand…and not a television or computer in sight…to not know that this week is the end of The Oprah Show. They have been talking about it since she announced it in 2009. She’s leaving Wednesday…..25 years she has been doing her television show. 25 years! That means I was only 23 years old when it started! OK…maybe it was 33.
There are many people who think many things about Oprah. Some think she hung the moon. Some think she is the greatest thing to ever happen to television. Some think she is too liberal. Some think she is a Christian. Some say she couldn’t possibly know the Lord. Some think she is beautiful. Some think she can not be beautiful because she is a different color than them. Some think she has helped countless number of people. Some think she has done it all for her own glory. Some think she has led many down the wrong path, others think she has shown the the only way. I can not say if any of these things are true or false. But, I can say what I think. So, here goes…
Monday and Tuesday there have been shows honoring Oprah and some of her accomplishments. They were held at the United Center in Chicago, a small, intimate theater that seats 30,000!!! And, from the looks of it, every seat was filled. The shows were filled with surprise guests that included the elite in the entertainment industry. She was very gracious to all and shed many tears…even going into the ‘ugly cry’ as she calls it. The talent was non stop, as if they were trying to get as many folks into the program as possible. There were the young and the old there to honor her. And, honor her they did!
It is true that she has led an extraordinary life. And, she is to be commended for all the good she has done. Being from a small town and a poor family, as she gained popularity, she quickly became a nation wide leader. Her passion has been education. I learned that because of her 64,688 people have been given an education…throughout the world. She has given 415 scholarships to Moorhouse College for black men. Her thought was if you’ take the underprivileged black man and see that he gets a good education…you change not only his life, but also the life of a whole family.’ It should be noted that among these men are doctors, lawyers, professors, astronauts,business men…and together, these 415 have given over $300,000 to the scholarship fund to see that even more young black men can take advantage of a better life. She has started schools in Africa, and several other countries. These young men and women now have the tools to change the life they have been born into. She has also started education opportunities for poor women in undeveloped countries. They then are able to provide for their families and help train others.
She single handedly started a new movement geared at reading. Her book club of 65 books through out the years, has opened the eyes of many who had not read in years. A recommendation from her could make or break a book. I personally read about 20 of the books she recommended. and I throughly enjoyed all but one. Her club consisted not onlynewly published books, but, some of the enduring classics of great literature.
She has built whole neighborhoods for victims of Katrina. She raised many more millions to build more.
She started the movement of ‘not texting while driving’. Many, many signed a pledge to forego this practice. Who knows how many lives this has saved?
People on the show were saying what they had learned from her shows through the years. Which got me to thinking. Have I learned anything from her ? I like to think of myself as having a brain that knows so much, there is no room for new things within. HA! I realize, the older I get, that I don’t have any idea just how much I don’t know! Nevertheless, these are some of the things I learned from her:
1. When you know better, you do better.
2. When someone shows you who they are, believe them.
3. Trust your instincts.
4. As Mothers, we should always show excitement whenever we see our children.
5. Surround yourself only with those who lift you up and make you better.
6. Everyone has a story.
7. The weaknesses and the addictions we all have are due to the emotions, the beliefs, the habits and the patterns stored deep inside ourselves. Some of them are ours and some are adopted from our culture, family or friends. I have to unearth these for myself.
8. Bras, jeans, Spanx and poop.
So, it is now Thursday morn…I waited to post because I wanted to post about her last show. I was shocked, to say the least. In case you didn’t see. She was on stage alone and spent the whole time talking. No guests, though a few celebrities in the audience. She talked about what she had done, what she had learned, and what she was most proud of.
When she was asked how she had done the show and all it has entailed for 25 years she said– “My team, and Jesus. Because nothing but the hand of God has made this possible for me.” Anticipating questions about which god she was talking about, she continued, “I’m talking about the same one you’re talking about. I’m talking about alpha and omega, the omniscient, the omnipresent, the ultimate consciousness, the source, the force, the all of everything there is, the one and only G-O-D. I know I’ve never been alone, and you haven’t either,” she said. “And I know that that presence that flows, some people call it grace, is working in my life at every single turn, and yours too if you let it in.”
And then… “From Mississippi to this moment with you, I know what a miracle that is,” she said. “God is love, and God is life, and your life is always speaking to you,” she said. “First in whispers. … If you don’t pay attention to the whispers, it gets louder and louder and louder.… So I ask you: What are the whispers in your life right now?”
She talked more about the Lord on that one show than on all the others through the years. I wonder if that was planned. She had no trouble giving all the glory of the success of the show to the Lord. She said that we are here to learn how to be the person God intended us to be. Well..I actually think we are here to serve Him. But, if in serving Him, we learn who we are, that’s a good thing. She said that she prayed and waited on God’s leading to make all the decisions in her life. She went on to say that it was important to find a place to be quiet, so you can hear Him when He speaks.
One of my favorite quotes is this: “To show what kind of character a person really has…look at whether they do the right thing or the wrong thing when they know that no one else will ever know.” She spoke it a little different: “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that no-body’s going to know whether you did it or not.” Very close to the same thing. She also said, ” Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
With all the pretty words she has used through the years, I fault her most for spreading some of the ‘new age’ spiritualism. Since so many believed all she said, I’m sure they were swayed to her point of view. However, if she really believes in God and Jesus as she says, then why would she proclaim false teachings as truth? I must admit, this bothers me greatly. If we know the TRUTH, then we will be held responsible if we don’t share it. Or maybe she doesn’t know enough about the saving grace of Jesus to know the full story. I don’t know. But, it is quite disconcerting.
“There are no words to match this moment.”
So this was the final episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. After 25 years and 4,561 episodes, Winfrey bid farewell to her daytime talk show . She presented her final episode as one last class. “It is no coincidence that I always wanted to be a teacher. I ended up with the greatest classroom in the world. And this, my friends, will be our last class for this stage,” she said. “I’ve talked to nearly 30,000 people on this show, and all 30,000 had one thing in common — they all wanted validation. … They want to know, do you hear me? Do you see me? Does what I say mean anything to you?” She said her fourth grade teacher showed her that she mattered and that has made all the difference in who she has become. The teacher was in her final audience.
And this I think, may be her greatest legacy. For the guests I agreed with, and those I didn’t. For those I thought were morally wrong, and for those I thought had a divine inspiration. For those I thought were ‘wierd and strange’, and for those I thought had great wisdom…she made it possible for us to hear both sides of the issue. She gave them a chance to be heard…and us a chance to hear. For those who showed us what to wear, and what to eat, and even what our poop should look like, she gave us a chance to learn how to live a better life. We now know that we need better bras, we need to wear Spanx, and how to get a pair of jeans that really fits. For those struggling with abuse, or diet, or crime, or drugs,or debt, and more…she allowed them to be seen and to be heard and by doing that, many of us got a first hand look at things we may never have known about. But, we were also presented with ways to help ourselves out of that situation. We were able to hear how it feels to be a victim…and how it feel to be the one who is victimizing others. It gave us a chance to look inside the minds of those we find reprehensible….and maybe understand…just a little…about why they are what they are. And, perhaps we learned that we are all so different………and we are all so alike. And it is but the grace of God that we are who we are.
Perfection! That is what this post is. I have watched Oprah for at least 23 years. She was always set on my VCR/DVD players. All My Children and Oprah are my only two daytime shows that I watch. I will miss her and AMC. I am thankful that I can still see her in little bits on OWN. I have to say that yesterday was the first time I ever heard her say GOD. She has talked about a higher power and all that you listed above but I had never heard her say GOD before. I thought her show was a class act too.
I missed her last week because we're out of town. I think Oprah has had a terrific run on t.v. and done many, many good things. I pray she does believe in the Truth……she had an enormous platform.
I'll have to watch that last week on Hulu.
Excellent post. Well said. Well said.
Tonja, you continue to amaze me. This is such a beautifully written, very balanced essay. It seriously should be published somewhere in addition to this blog. Thank you for taking the time to put all of this "down on paper"!