When it comes to healing, I believe there are no limits. God’s ability to heal our brokenness surpasses our human intellect. For many of us, we unconsciously associate healing with the church and pastors leading those efforts. And there’s no doubt that healing happens in the church. But happens when church causes hurt, and alcohol becomes the answer to numbing the pain? Can you reach sing, dance, and shout alcoholism away? In the case of Le'Andria Johnson, I would say no.
If you were on social media any amount of time last summer, you probably saw the now infamous Le’Andria Johnson videos. Johnson is a Grammy-winning Gospel artist and Season 3 winner of Sunday’s Best. However, in the summer of 2018, she became known for her video rants. Johnson freely cussed, called out the black church, and various leaders like Marvin Winans, as well as the hypocrisy that she had personally experienced in the church. Some stood with her while others condemned her. Everyone had an opinion about Johnson’s truth and how she expressed it on social media. People inside and outside of the church were talking and the court of public opinion in the gospel community soon reached a verdict of sorts. Johnson was found guilty and the sentence would be removal from events such as the Essence Festival. Johnson was scheduled to give a tribute to Dottie Peoples before Essence organizers removed her. Johnson’s anger was on full display with the following response:
“I’m not gonna be there because the gospel part of Essence Festival, apparently, me speaking my right – I have an amendment right…and that’s freedom of speech. So my freedom of speech caused me not to be a part of the gospel part of the Essence Festival. And I’m pretty sure they don’t want me to be there because I said ‘f-Christianity, f-the church,’ I said that. Maybe that’s why they don’t want me to go.”
Those soundbites sent the black church into a tailspin. But in the end, whether you praised her boldness to speak her truth or condemned her to hell for her profanity-filled rant what was undeniable in those videos was the hurt.
I’m not sure if anyone was trying to help Johnson before the 2018 rants, but Iyanla Vanzant later shared on social media that Donald Lawrence reached out to her for help on behalf of his friend, Johnson. So with all parties in agreement on March 16, God’s divine healing process was displayed for the world to see on OWN’s Iyanla: Fix My Life. You see what the enemy meant for evil was really for our good and Johnson’s good. Johnson revealed her frustration, hurt, distress, and pain to us via social media but praise God for the healing that was also, shown on TV and social media! We as a community were able to bear witness to Johnson healing on national TV.
Vanzant who is an elder, spiritual teacher, and life coach was able to get to the heart of Johnson’s pain. Vanzant's no-nonsense approach to breaking patterns and calling a thing a thing seems to be exactly what Johnson needed. During a two-part episode on Iyanla: Fix My Life, Johnson willingly came clean and admitted that she was a functioning alcoholic.
With some calling Johnson the Whitney Houston of Gospel I am thankful for Donald Lawrence and others who know and understand God’s healing power is without limits and transcends beyond the four walls of the church. At the end of the episode, Johnson went into a treatment program and I'm praying for her continued healing.
Did you know there’s a great debate in the black church whether people should seek pastoral counseling or professional counselors, therapists, and life coaches outside of the church? Some in the black church are upset that Johnson went to Vanzant for help. So what are your thoughts?