By Gwen “Ms. Chocolate” Williams/Special to the Item
The Picayune Item
I am convinced that satan’s most powerful weapon is fear. In this land of the free and the home of the brave most are held in bondage by fear. Because of what Jesus did on the cross we are set free to live abundantly, but fear teaches us to trust our common sense rather than trust God. I wonder what my life would have been had I been taught the love of God rather than the fear of God. I lived most of my childhood in fear of what God would do if I did something wrong. Praise God, I’ve learned to walk by faith living victoriously.
Woodside Park, a low income neighborhood built for veterans, possessed a group of people living from day to day without knowing the world across the tracks that surrounded it.
They had a school, church, juke joint, Ms. Pearl’s store and cleaning jobs so what more did they need? Those who dared to cross those tracks came back like the spies Moses sent out spreading fear dispelling the hope of ever wanting to leave. One day a new report hit the neighborhood.
Mrs. Smith gathered all the children, I was one of them, near her desk looking them in the eye like she was about to reveal a big secret. She asked her new class of first graders if they knew where that train went as it passed the forbidden tracks. Fear showed up ready to fight, but Mrs. Smith became a worthy opponent. That day fear would forever leave our thoughts.
First round fight matched me — an overweight youngster — with those skinny girls in the class. This fat girl could out march the best of them so I joined the band as a majorette. My big mouth and personality landed me in the staring role of “Goldilocks, Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty.” I took on every challenge even though I almost ended in jail after I integrated the cafeteria at the hospital while working as a candy striper. I refused to fit in the racist box labeled: “Colored.”
Second round fight occurred during my college years. My campus held the honor of being the first to open its doors to African Americans. Fear kept the dorms and organizations segregated until I arrived. Being colorblind walked me through many locked doors, but labeled me Oreo by the black students. I was free, which was beyond their comprehension.
Nothing stopped me from getting what I wanted. Fearlessly I walked to that white Baptist church to have their pastor escort me to the black church in the woods. Later that same pastor would welcome me to speak in his pulpit and call me friend. As a music major there was no performance where I was not the featured soloist. I just kept singing my way into God’s plan for my life.
Missions gave me the opportunity to travel and share with all people the plan of God through music and the spoken word.
The eyes of the children imprisoned behind that fortress of poverty caught my eye. Memories of that train track from my childhood encouraged me to teach them they were part of the American dream. I cried many nights because of the plight of my kids, but to them I was the dragon lady. Like my first grade teacher I refused to let them fail. I dragged them everywhere lessons were taught; encouraging them to keeping growing until they reached their goals. God compelled me to return to those yet in bondage with the news of freedom.
I may have missed the civil rights marches, but I would preach that message.
My parents feared for their daughter’s life during my employment at the women’s shelter in New Orleans. My determination to obey God’s will out weighed the fear of the shelter. That experience opened my eyes to many fears of the ladies at the mission. Drugs, alcohol, domestic violence and poverty were all keys to the fear fortress that imprisoned them.
God orchestrated my biggest fear fight. My fundamentalist background tried to warn me of my defeat, but I was going to show God a thing or two. God said quit my job and trust him through faith. Fear joined me and my realistic excuses, saying a loud “No.” The hard and tearful fight wore me out, but God’s love won the battle. To this day not a moment of regret appears in my mind for the many opportunities of being an entrepreneur.
The day I faced an editor for an evaluation of my writing, fear opened the forbidden door. I ignored him and walked on in. To hear the words, “this is good” nearly blew me away. That phone call informing me of my first story that appeared on the front of the Times Picayune, brought tears to my eyes. That first book signing gave me all the confidence I needed to pursue a writing career. Fear almost dismissed me from this class until Grace announced that seeds of greatness would come from this class. That kicked fear out the door.
Moving to Miss. packed more fear than the winds of hurricane Katrina. Tired of being homeless encouraged me to take the risk. I found myself about to yield to the welcome mat of that racist black box. Faith led the way meeting some of the nicest people.
I’ve disclosed what I see as a major hindrance in this country today. Most of the hateful actions, especially from believers, come from fear. We tend to fight what we fear. Let me leave you with some wise words of wisdom: “Fear knocked at the door, faith answered, and no one was there.”