Excerpt: Fantasia Barrino's "Life Is Not a Fairy Tale"

Once I sit down, I carry on – shoutin', praisin', and doing my BoBo. I always carry on that way when I'm in church. It's the only place that I feel free enough to let myself loose. The wood pews are a comfort to me when I fall in exhaustion at the power of the spirit in the church.

During the praise and worship service, people who are feeling somethin' come up and speak about what had happened to them during the last week. They discuss a health problem that has been resolved or a new diagnosis that has scared them and talk about how they are afraid that they're goin' to die. They mention family members who are in trouble, sick, or who have died. Most importantly, they speak about what God had done for their life in the last seven days. They talk about the ways that God has healed and solved a problem and had strengthened them to handle whatever it was.

At that point, I always cry. Everyone in the congregation, including me, listens and agrees with the power of God. Hearing these stories relieves my stress and everyone else's. It makes me feel that I'm not alone in my struggles. It makes me feel the need to say something out loud. Some say, exuberantly, "Yes, God!" or "Praise the Lord!" I say in agreement, "Yes, He did!"

Within several minutes, after the opening songs have been sung and the visitors have been welcomed, the feeling in the air escalates and everyone is thinkin' about how God has helped them or healed them. Everyone in the room is thinkin' of their own miracles that God has performed. My mother used to tell me that she would always think about me and how God had shown me and our whole family favor, despite the mistakes that we have made.

Looking around the sanctuary and seeing women and children cryin' and grown men runnin' up and down the aisles of the church as if they were runnin' for their life – or runnin' from their demons – always moves me. It shows me how fragile we all are. Graying women put down their crutches and jump up and down as though they were exercising. Women sitting next to me begin to shake and quake. I would see them tumbling to the ground. Beads of sweat drench everybody's foreheads. A woman in a white nursing uniform once pushed me aside to comfort a fallen woman, while I yearned for the breeze of the white blanket to be fanned over my wet head, too.

People scream and shout around me. There are clusters of people behind me repeating: "Yes, Lord, yes, Lord, yes, Lord …" as though they are under a spell. Another chorus from the front is chanting, "Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord." A younger woman two rows ahead of me is repeating, "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" The musicians in the front of the pulpit are playing a tune that is hyper and jubilant, yet everyone is cryin' and fallin' down. I hear unintelligible phrases coming out of my own mouth – that is me speaking directly to God, but others call it "speaking in tongues."

People are losing their balance all around me. Some are humbled and on their knees. Others are sitting in their seats upright and calm. A young girl is waving her arms like she will fly away. I feel myself going in and out of consciousness. I stand up with new energy and find myself running in place, with my shoulders hunched and my arms in the running position. My fists are balled up as if I'm beginning to box. I have a smile on my face that is blinding. I am doing the BoBo.

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