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

The minister, my grandma Addie, comes to the center of the pulpit with the comforting clouds that she had painted above her as an imaginary "Heaven above." She is calm and serene and says these simple words, "The Holy Ghost is in the house! Amen." And she waits until the Spirit takes its time and tames itself.

That is how it is in a Holiness church.

This is the place where the BoBo lives.

Whenever I go to church, I think hard about what God has done for my life and how he continues to appear in my life, like a daily miracle. I think about the dreams and visions where He came to me and told me the things that I needed to hear. I think about how I got into the "Idol" audition when it wasn't even possible. I think about Zion and how she turned my "bad" act into a blessing. I think about my mother and how she has stood by me through everything. I think about how blessed I am to have her. I cry every time I think about my cousins, Kima and Kadijah, who don't have their mother, Aunt Rayda, anymore, because she was murdered. I think about my father and how he built my career by leading all of us kids to music. I think about the small, lopsided three-bedroom house at 511 Montlieu Avenue with all its memories of music, family, friends, and hunger … and how far we all have come. I think about all the places I have been to around the world. I think about how amazing it is that my singing got me out of High Point and out into the world. I think about the anointing I have with my voice and how powerful it is for others.

Thinkin' about all these things, I start to feel full. I feel full of pain and joy all at once. I feel regret for those who don't know about God's love. I feel proud that I do know His love firsthand. I think that there is evidence of Him everywhere. These thoughts and feelings come up like a wave. It's unexpected and I feel more tears coming. I feel my mouth twisting up to hide the wail inside my soul. These thoughts cause me to shake with excitement and gratitude. I think of my amazement at all the blessings that have come to me, a girl who was undeserving so many times, but God continued to give me chances time and time again. I feel a tightness in my body. I feel like I'm going to burst with joy and gratitude. These feelings cause me to rise out of my seat. I start to shake myself away from earthly concerns and worries. Standing in the church, my mind travels to a private place and I feel like I'm no longer there.

What brings me back to the church is the young people who seem bored and uninterested in church. Many young people who I have met and even some of my old friends seem ashamed to show off their faith in God, which has always been so natural to me that I can't really understand them. They seem embarrassed to flaunt their relationship with God. Most young people would much rather talk about their relationship with a man or a woman. Most people would rather flaunt their new clothes or their new bling-bling. I always wonder why God is not worthy of praise and acknowledgment? Why are young people ashamed to show their faith? Take it from me – faith is really all you have.

Through lots of patience, God has shown me how to use my precious gift of music. It was a difficult journey just to find the gift that God had already placed inside of me. He has done the same for you – he has given you an extraordinary gift. You just have to have faith and he will lead you to it.

Excerpted with permission from "Life Is Not a Fairy Tale," by Fantasia. Published by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Copyright © 2005 by Fantasia.

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