Hallelujah! That was the word queen mother auntie Iyanla Vanzant repeated as she walked through the crowd at the Empowerment Stage at ESSENCE Festival 2017, making her way to the stage.
“This time last year, I was laying on a surgical table. Hallelujah!” The crowd was standing, saying “hallelujah” with her and giving her their undivided attention. Everyone wanted a piece of Ms. Vanzant and she knew that, which is why she walked through the people, to be with the people.
You see, Vanzant was scheduled as a keynote speaker on the Empowerment Stage at the 2016 ESSENCE Festival, but due to a medical emergency, she reluctantly canceled to undergo surgery. But she sent the best possible replacement: Oprah Winfrey. Now, a full year later, Vanzant is alive and well and on the ESSENCE stage, giving us the speech she was destined to give, a speech that we were able to hear after she survived a colon rupture.
So yes, she’s a survivor.
But she didn’t come to New Orleans to tell the people of ESSENCE Fest all the gory details of her medical emergency — she came to offer helpful words.
In the words of Vanzant, “it’s hard out here for a pimp, so get yourself a spiritual code of conduct.” She continued, “Develop a spiritual code of conduct because so many of us are suffering. We’re brilliant and creative and wasting time on things and people that diminish us.”
Every code of conduct comes with do’s and don’ts. Here are Vanzant's:
Grant Yourself Spiritually Every Day
Connect with something bigger, greater, grander than you. Believe in, trust in, connect to something bigger than you and if you don’t, you will be knocked off center. When you ground yourself spiritually, you’re protected no matter what tries to take you down.
Know Who You Are
This is not about your name or occupation or what people say about you on Facebook, but it is who you are at the core, at the essence and root of your being.
Ask for what you want and don’t settle for what’s available or all you think you can have. If you want it easy, don’t make it hard. Stop thinking you have to work so hard for your blessings! Up-level your life. You end up holding on to things that dim your light instead of asking for what you want. Believe you can get it, just because.
Do Not Think Because It Hasn’t Happened, It Won’t Happen:
Sometimes it doesn’t happen because you “ain’t” ready, the world “ain’t” ready. Sometimes, you’re praying for the wrong thing—you’re praying for less than what you are. You should always recharge and renew your vision. Just because your mommy and daddy did it, doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it. You don’t have to be broke, you don’t have to struggle or take care of everybody. Be willing to do a new thing in a new way and sometimes you have to piss people off in the process—people will hold you to your limitations, what they believe to be true.
Do Not Accept The Unacceptable
Don’t let people lie to you—you know when someone is lying to you. "Beloved I know YOU think that’s true, but something in here is not feeling it, so I’m not gonna move until it feels better in my belly. How can anyone be mad at you when you address them as such?"
Don’t Move Until You Have A Vision
That’s why we fail sometimes. If you cant see it, nothing will happen. Vision comes from you taking time to sit down in daily spiritual practice, do the work. Reflect so you can correct.
Do Not Stay Where You Don’t Want To Be
A lot of us are working jobs we hate, doing things we hate because we think that’s it. Life is bigger than our limitations.
Do Not Act Like You Know When You Don’t Know
When you’re growing beyond places that are familiar, you have to do things that scare you. Rely on connection to something bigger than you and ask for help. Don’t buy real estate in the comfortable and familiar.
Do Not Allow/Hold On To Things And People That Diminish Your Light
Holding on to anger shame, guilt and lies, unforgiveness, upset, not forgiving your momma/daddy/lady that crossed her eyes to you in the bank window, holding on to coulda shoulda, why she didn’t, why she did—that’s why you have to pray and have relationship to something bigger. Boo Boo left because he didn’t belong there in the first place. You’ve got to have boundaries—there’s got to be a consequence. You can’t cheat on me and apologize! Don’t worry about people being upset with you. People in your life are there because of energetic invitation. If you tolerate it or accommodate it, you will have to entertain it repeatedly.
Do Not Fail To Tell Yourself The Truth About Yourself
Sometimes as Black woman, we refuse to cry tears because people will think we’re weak or stupid. We try so hard to do the right thing, that we don’t do what was right for us. We try hard to make it work, that all we do is work. Sometimes we’re not clear on what we’re taking in. When we are clear on what’s coming in, then you’re clear on how it comes out.