'I Have Aha Moment Exhaustion!' My Afternoon With Oprah and Pastor Rick Warren

By the end of the program, tears had been shed, "hallelujahs" were cried out and souls were opened up to the possibility of living for something more in this life.
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I have always been a big fan of Oprah Winfrey. Growing up, I remember faithfully watching her show every day after school (after my cartoons ended, of course) and admiring the compassion and courage that she shared with her viewers. So when the opportunity came to attend a taping of her "Lifeclass" show in Houston, I snagged it. The icing on the cake? Pastor Rick Warren was her guest.

Yes, I realize that Pastor Rick is Christian, and well, I am not, but I was familiar enough with his work to know that much of the spiritual advice he gave his Christian followers resonated with Muslims as well. (His book, "The Purpose Driven Life," is the best-selling non-fiction book in the world). Thus, it was with anticipation and excitement that I entered the Hobby Center last Friday afternoon to watch the show.


The topic for this Lifeclass was "Playing the Hand You're Dealt." The "hand" refers to five "life cards" everyone is given by God, with only one being in our control. These cards are as follows:
  1. Chemistry -- Your biology; the body and health you have been given. We are all intentionally "flawed" to make us unique.
  2. Connections -- The relationships you have with others. Studies show that self-esteem is determined by what you think the most important person in your life thinks about you. Make God the most important in your life.
  3. Circumstances -- What life throws at you. We give this card way too much power. God can give you the power to rise above your circumstances.
  4. Consciousness -- The story you tell yourself. The way you think affects the way you feel and that affects how you behave. Change your thoughts to change the way you feel.
  5. Choices -- The wildcard that can change the others. We have the freedom to choose.
Some of these cards are going to be good, and some of these cards are going to be bad. The point, Pastor Warren said, was to understand that everyone is given specific cards for a reason. We shouldn't wish to have the cards of someone else who we think is living a "better" life than us. God gave us this particular hand to shape us into the best person that we could be.

I found this interesting because God discusses a similar concept in the Holy Quran.

"It is We Who portion out between them their livelihood in the life of this world: and We raise some of them above others in ranks, so that some may command work from others. But the Mercy of thy Lord is better than the (wealth) which they amass" (Surah 43, Verse 32).

There were many other "aha" moments during the class, so much so that Oprah claimed she had reached "aha exhaustion!" A few of these gems included:

"If you expect heaven on earth, you are going to be severely disappointed." -- Pastor Rick Warren

"You have to go to God to find your purpose because He is the Creator." -- Pastor Rick Warren

"No matter how bad your life is, there is always something you can thank God for." -- Pastor Rick Warren

"I know a lot of famous people. I know a lot of wealthy people. But I don't know a lot of powerful people. You don't feel powerful authentically until you can give yourself away." -- Oprah Winfrey

"God is more interested in your character than your career." -- Pastor Rick Warren

"If you learn to laugh at yourself, you'll never run out of material." -- Pastor Rick Warren

"You can waste your life. You can spend your life. Or you can invest your life. The best use of your life is to invest it in that which will outlast it. Invest it in serving others. And that's what it means to live a purpose-driven life." -- Pastor Rick Warren

This last quote really struck home with me. Islam is all about living a purpose-driven life. Our purpose on this earth is to worship God and live in a manner that is pleasing to Him. And that includes using our talent and wealth to make a positive impact on the less fortunate.

By the end of the program, tears had been shed, "hallelujahs" were cried out and souls were opened up to the possibility of living for something more in this life. I, along with the majority-female audience, left the show that day with a renewed sense of purpose and much spiritual food for thought. Aha overload indeed!

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