A Letter to Oprah

A Letter to Oprah

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John,

I saw that you have had some pretty profound thoughts on Oprah’s 25th Season Finale.  I stopped watching Oprah years ago because of her liberal stance on life and felt strongly that she was deceiving people.  How can you see anything positive from her worldly life?


Signed,

No Oprah for Me


Dear No Oprah for Me,

I see Oprah’s life as not different from my own. I have walked a journey of life that I don’t want anyone to judge by where I am at “right now” because I am a work in progress in the hands of a living and powerful God.  I am not where I was, and am not where I will be. But I am where I am right now.  I want to share a letter with you that I recently sent Oprah that has many of my responses to her recent 25th Season Finale.


Dear Oprah,

oprah early yearsI am one of those unusual men who have followed your journey over the last 25 years with a very personal interest. In 1990, a godly lady, and sincere pray’er from Church of the Open Door (the church we attended in San Rafael, CA at the time) was talking about her observations about the then current trend in “Talk Shows” and their hosts. She was concerned about the negative direction they were taking and the moral digression represented through them. She said to me, “John, I’m praying that Oprah will turn the tide and become a more positive influence. I’m praying that Oprah will glorify God through her show.”


I have watched your show regularly all through the years waiting for the answer to her prayers. I took on her dream of seeing a turn through your show. I never forgot what I hoped to see. I saw, year by year, the positive turns that you took with the interviews and life lessons you and your staff took on. Very quickly at the time and through the years, you moved towards exactly what she and I hoped for, a more positive and redemptive approach to daytime talk show messages.


This last season was better than all the rest. Many of your episodes brought tears to my eyes and caused my heart to open up within me as I heard your ability to draw each person’s heart to the surface for us all to experience. On some days I would say, “Oh, that one probably isn’t something I want to watch.” I thought that largely because it just didn’t look really interesting. But sometimes I’d click on it anyway and each time I was impacted and impressed with the show because of how you made each one significant to the heart.


There have been some significant people that I had previously dismissed because of what I thought they conveyed through their life or values but when in an interview with you, the deepest part of their hearts came forward and revealed what was going on underneath their public lives. I was then able to see the positive sides of each one allowing me to embrace their humanness just like me.


Rosie-ODonnell-Oprah-Winfrey-thumb-320x180-5373For example I had judged Rosie O’Donnell to be brassy and just a “gay” activist until I saw your show that revealed the struggle she went through from her separation with her partner and the effects on the children. You revealed the real “Rosie” beneath the issue that opened my heart up to see her as a real warm blooded person! You showed me her dedication to loving her children and truly caring about their little lives and hearts.




Ricky_Martin_Oprah

The show with Ricky Martin where he talked about the battle of coming out in the public regarding his homosexuality and the way he had chosen to follow an honest life rather than to live beneath a facade. What I saw was how you could take a controversial subject that had great potential for judgment by many, and show the human heart beneath the “issue”. I could see that anyone with half a heart could embrace the person and leave the judgment behind. I saw his choice to be authentic and open about his homosexuality even when the potential was there to lose his whole career! Can we all make those kind of choices to be honest and authentic when a great risk is at stake?


Oprah-200men-1Of course the dramatic representation of how child abuse had impacted the 200 men through the show with Tyler Perry was deeply impacting for us all. I have also watched Tyler Perry’s career and deeply respect his passion for the gospel of Jesus and those who see his movies.







20110209-tows-iyanla-vanzant-returns-9-300x205I was awed at how you revealed the reconciliation between you and Iyanla Vanzant. For your to feel free enough to have that discussion live and in color was a tremendous act of humility. The AHA moment when you said, “I got it, I got it!” was profound. The lesson in that moment of how we need to dig for another’s heart rather than continue to react to the surface messages was significant. I have heard some people refer to her as the “crazy lady” but regardless of how she comes across, that day, her deepest heart cry was brought to the surface and I saw a person, broken and hungry for affirmation of her “self” rather than what she could give.


I could go on and on about how different shows affected my own heart but to keep this email within your ability to read its contents, I want to give most of my emphasis to the finale. Oprah, I have recorded the episode and have watched it over and over and tears come to my eyes each time. My spirit leaps within me through each point you made.


I have talked to many people about the show and how you “preached” an astounding sermon to millions that has included things that are very important to God and were deep in my own heart. Since you aren’t a “pastor” or representing a “church” the value of what you had to say was so much greater. They were greater because you preached from your very own experience, not just an intellectual ascent of the matter, but real life experience.


You challenged people to search for their own passions and calling, to embrace their intrinsic worthiness and to learn to be responsible for their own lives. These truths are foundational for us to live a life worthy of the calling of God! Your heart cry for them to listen for the voice of God in their hearts and call Him close (He’s closer than your very breath) to themselves was a pinnacle of the message from you to the world. You gave an “altar call” from the heart of God to his beloved children that I pray many from your audience would heed.


When you described “the God you serve” with such profound passion it was a crescendo that reached the heavens! Your comment that your answer to their question might not be popular and yet to go ahead with your description of God being, the Alpha and the Omega, the Omniscient One, G-O-D, the great creator of all life, I wanted to stand up and shout! I can’t think of many within the worlds renowned who would make that kind of public statement.


oprah finaleAs you closed with your arms outstretched saying “To God be the Glory” I heard a resounding answer to my friends prayer from over 20 years ago. You became a profound positive impact not only for television, but for our world. And all of this from your heart, in front of millions, your last words gave God the glory.


Oprah, I was a significant leader within the ex-gay movement for over 20 years . I was a right wing, evangelical with plenty of judgment in my heart for those that “choose an immoral lifestyle”.


I resigned from Love In Action and Exodus International (as a board member) three years ago. In the last three years God has been doing a deep heart change in my own life. He has dug into the deep recesses of my own judgment and criticism of others and brought me to take responsibility for all of those things I have thought and said through the years that were critical and certainly unloving from the deeper sense. He has taught me what it means to be a representative of His love for His people.


I have taken to heart what God has said to us, “I have not come to condemn the world, but to save the world.” He is showing me how to love others into His arms of redemption and restoration in His time and in His way. I believe you also have followed that path.


Oprah, you have allowed us, your audience, to sit in the living room of your own journey as God has transformed your life. I believe I was so moved by your 25th season because it resonated with my own journey away from traditional evangelicalism into following the real path of Jesus into other’s lives. I am as passionate as you are to help people to believe they are “worthy” and that someone cares about what they have to say without judgment of where they are in life.


I could go on but will not at this point. I am not sure who will actually read through this email but I felt compelled to write it for whomever does read it.


Supporting articles I have written regarding my own process:


www.gracerivers.com/apology


This is an apology to the gay community from my heart


www.gracerivers.com/change-heart


This reveals the beginning of how God worked through some challenging circumstances to chisel away the judgment from my heart and revealed how many people are missing from our lives due to their own wounds and rejection.


www.gracerivers.com/gay-divide


This is an article I wrote to challenge the divisiveness between two primary entities within homosexuality.


Thank you for all you have done. I look forward to following your journey through OWN.


Sincerely,

John J. Smid

Person loved by God, Husband, Father, Son, Brother, Friend, House Cleaner with Hollywood Homes, and serve as the Executive Director for Grace Rivers Ministry

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2 Responses to “A Letter to Oprah”

  1. Joe Sheppard says:

    Well said!

  2. Michael Watt says:

    Wow! As usual, you have eloquently captured what I wish I could have said. Thank you for sharing with me your thoughts about Oprah early last fall, which resulted in me actually regularly watching her show this season for the first time.

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