Patricia Heaton's second act hasn't gone quite as expected, but having learned early in life that surrendering to God's will brings the best results, she is doing her best to take it in stride. She has also drawn inspiration from selfless individuals who, when faced with unexpected challenges,embarked on a new path that benefited not only themselves, but many others. She shares their stories, as well as her own, in the new book Your Second Act: Inspiring Stories of Reinvention, and we discussed it recently on Christopher Closeup.
Recalling her childhood in Cleveland, Ohio, Patricia noted that God created her with a desire to perform, and she would often gather the kids in her neighborhood to put on plays. Building an acting career, however, was much harder.
She said, "It's easy to make [career] the center of your life when you've been given this strong desire. And even though that desire comes from God, it can't replace Him. That's a classic mistake as a human being: to have the center of your life be your career and your pursuit of your dreams. I came to that point after nine years of struggling in New York, not getting anywhere. I moved to California and went on a mission trip for a weekend to Mexico, to an orphanage in Takata, called Sparrows Gate, with our Hollywood Presbyterian Church. Through laying sod down, doing physical labor, and throwing a party for the kids, I came back and had this incredible sense of peace. For the first time in my life, I realized there was something other than acting that I could do that would give me a sense of fulfillment. . . . I said, 'Okay, Lord, I'm just going to hand this over to You. . . . If the auditions keep coming, I'm going to see that as Your sign to me to keep pursuing it. But if you want me to go back to Mexico, just make it super clear, shut down the auditions.' I felt released from this pressure to be successful as an actor."
The auditions kept coming, and eventually, Patricia got cast in the role that changed her life: Debra Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond. Looking back on that prayer to God now, Patricia realizes that she presented God with an either/or proposition, but God had something much better in mind.
She said, "I realized this year when I was in Rwanda with World Vision, God gave me both [situations I asked for]. When I was thinking I had to make a choice, [God] said, 'I'm going to give you everything. I'm going to give it to you abundantly. We're just going to do it My way. Your heart needed to be in the right place.'
"I've had a career I could never have imagined," Patricia continued, "and I was able to make an impact in service to the poor in a much greater way than I would have been able to if I had just been toiling away myself at this orphanage in Mexico. With World Vision, I've been able to use my platform as an actress on shows like Rachael Ray and Entertainment Tonight to reach many more people. It just shows you, if we abide in God and abide in His timing, He's going to bless us far greater than we could have imagined."
After her most recent series was canceled after one season, Patricia had to trust in God's timing again. More on that in my next column.
This essay is a recent "Light One Candle" column written by Tony
Rossi, Director of Communications, The Christophers; it is one of a
series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current