Iyanla Vanzant Tackles Absent Fathers

Iyanla Vanzant Tackles Absent Fathers

Vanzant and Oprah are helping ‘fatherless sons’ and ‘daddyless daughters’ heal. Here, she talks about their work and bringing spirituality to the mainstream

Iyanla Vanzant Tackles Absent Fathers

Iyanla Vanzant

Photo courtesy of poptower

and it was clear to me that I did not go to law school to become a lawyer, I went to law school to change my mind. Law school is a rigorous training process of intellect. But you also develop some very powerful skills, analytical thinking. I would say in law you really have to see the possibilities even if they don't exist, you have to craft and create your arguments based on the possibilities rather than the physical evidence, that is a spiritual practice.

My goal as a young girl was to be a nurse. I always wanted to be a healer, I just thought it would be medical, not spiritual. But I am certainly involved in a level of healing and transformation, I take a 'dis-ease' and turn it into healing, wholeness and health, whether that 'dis-ease' is grief, or sadness, or anger, or judgment, or unforgiveness, I can support people in healing and bringing a sense of wholeness and health.

EBONY: It’s always interesting to watch the moments on your shows when people start to resist what you’re saying to them. How do you know when to provide more information for them and when to say this person isn't ready to receive what I have to say? 

IV: I don't think it's a conscious choice, you have to be in the moment. I keep pushing the envelope because healing doesn't always occur continuously. Sometimes you just have to plant the seed.  When you're facilitating an evolutionary process when you are facilitating a shift in consciousness, when you are facilitating a personal growth and healing, you're a seed planter. You plant the seed and you move on. You don't have to see the "A-ha [moment]," the breakthrough, the breakdown, you don't have to see that in the moment. But truth will always set you free, so it's just pushing the envelope. I never want to impugn anyone's dignity, I don't ever want to be disrespectful. My job is to tell and possess the truth. You take in what you can. People may be resistant at the moment, but, at the right time, in the right moment, when they're ready, what's been presented will take hold.

EBONY: Your work has to be fulfilling, though, even without seeing all the fruits of your labor. To know that you're walking in your purpose-- how does that feel?

IV: I would say, satisfying and even challenging. I've grown and learned along the way. I've been doing this work for 30 years. When I started talking about personal transformation and spiritual principles, people thought I was a nut, particularly personal healing and spiritual principles grounded in an African-centered consciousness, people thought I was crazy and that was really challenging. And over the years, now it's a booming business. And now it's acceptable. Now we talk about it: "Oh I'm a very spiritual person.” 

I think what Ms. Winfrey has done is given a platform with OWN and with programming on OWN and with her own personal support of personal evolution, she's given a platform for myself and many others but it wasn't like that for a long time. So it's been very satisfying to know that I've been consistent. Very consistent. That I've been on this path despite the hardships and difficulties. And in some ways it feels validating now when I hear an Eckhart Tolle or a Deepak Chopra and yet, still, I have something none of them have: I have [spiritual teaching] from an African-centered perspective.

EBONY: This shift from organized religion to "spirituality," that you mentioned definitely seems to be taking place. Why do you think people are leaning more towards spirituality than organized religion today?

IV: Evolution. There was a time women wore girdles, now we don't, we wear Spanx. [Laughs] It's just evolution and it's time and if you're spiritual and you really believe that God is in charge, than God is about progress and progression and development and unfolding, and as we grow in every other aspect of our lives [our relationship with God evolves]. So, that's one reason.

I also think that people are very, very aware that the systems and the structures that we are socialized to embrace are no longer working. It no longer means that if you go to school, get a good education and a good job that you're going to have a fulfilling life. That doesn't work anymore. Many people did that and they lost their homes and their jobs and everything. So when what you know falls apart, you've got to find something else to hold onto. So hey, try God. 

Brooke Obie writes The Spiritual Life column on EBONY.com and the award-winning Christian blog, DistrictDiva.com. Follow her on Twitter @BrookeObie.


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