An Interview with Chonda Pierce
My friend Chonda Pierce is an award winning comedienne and
one of the warmest, brightest and compelling women I know. I want you to listen in on a conversation we
had while I sipped coffee and she munched on Lays Potato Chips straight from
the bag! It will really give you a fresh
your faith and her words are deeply grounded in the truth of
Jennifer: You're a comedienne. You're funny. (At this point, Chonda interrupted and said "Make sure you print that in bold letters!") I would assume that to mean that you are pretty hopeful by nature, but you've had depression. So tell me what's the deal here?
Chonda: I think what's interesting is the majority of comics, when you read up on their lives, are not as hopeful as they need to be. They come from very dark places... A lot of comedy comes from difficult places and times of hopelessness - me included.
Jennifer: So you are saying that you came into comedy because of an absence of hope. How is it then that you've come to a place where you are a person of hope now? Where does that come from? How do you practically pursue hope and receive hope on a daily basis when you're naturally prone to depression?
Chonda: One of the greatest things I learned in counseling is that it's okay to talk to yourself! It's okay to argue with yourself. I have to do what is called "fact check".
Jennifer: What do you mean by that?
Chonda: Even as literal as taking a piece of paper and putting a line down the middle and writing on one half "Fact" and the other half "Fiction". For example, this "fact" that I think I have about myself...that I will never lose weight...that I will always be chubby and fat. That's really fiction, not fact. The fact of the matter is that I don't have any hormonal imbalance that could keep me from losing weight. If I wanted to get out and walk a little more I probably could lose weight. So the real fact is...it's not that I will always be fat; being thin is not as important to me as eating that donut!! In other words, I have to balance what is "fact" and what is "fiction". What is the lie and what is the truth? I write down what is the lie being whispered in my head. "I saw those two people over there whispering. I don't think they like me very much. They always seem to get really quiet when I walk in the room." Okay, so if that's the lie I hear in my head...the truth is they are probably talking about the fact that their shoes are hurting. The truth of the matter is that there is no possible way I could know what it is they are talking about and so that is a lie that is whispered in my head. Then what you have to do is make a choice about which one of those columns you are going to believe.
Jennifer: Do you still make lists or write it down?
Chonda: I've done it enough now that I don't have to write it down or make a list. I'll stop myself and say..."Okay now where is that coming from; why am I telling myself that; or why do I believe that?"
Jennifer: That's good. So you not only talk to yourself but you ask yourself questions?
Chonda: Absolutely...and that's perfectly sane.
Jennifer: And that's perfectly biblical because of Psalm 42:5.
Chonda: I think I read that in one of your books! (She announces with drama and then chuckles.) I tell myself to believe truth and ask myself what's up when I feel hopeless. There is an "ooey-gooey" honeymoon time with God that's awesome and that rotates often. But it's impractical for me to live on the mountain top all the time. They'd be changing my medicine real fast. The practical thing is that we live in a fallen world and we are going to fall off the mountain every now and then and we're going to be in just a doldrums or bored. We are going to experience every emotion that God created us to have and some of them we will lean into more than others and so we get bored. What keeps me from giving up on life...especially giving up on God, is recognizing that life just is what it is. This is not the final stop. It does get better. Heaven is so much better. If this world was just so incredibly great I don't think God would have allowed Heaven to be where it is. Because, why would we have needed it.
Jennifer: Hmmm...there wouldn't have been anything to look forward to.
Chonda: We have something so much better to look forward to and that's a good thing to have on the horizon. Heaven gives me something to hope for. I've had to learn that on the days where we are not on the mountaintop to rehearse in the dark what I have learned in the light. When you keep doing that, as hopeless as you may feel, hopelessness needs to be on the list of lies. Our feelings lie to us-especially to women. I always say that if Satan is the author of lies then depression is his cell phone because depression is often based upon how you feel.
Jennifer: So you are saying, essentially...hopelessness is a lie for a believer in Christ.
Jennifer: Then the truth is what...hope?
Chonda: The truth is Christ and Christ is Hope. Colossians says "I'm going to give you a secret that has been kept hidden from generations is now disclosed to the saints". In other words, when Jesus came the secret was out. "...and the secret or mystery is this...Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:26-27)
Jennifer: Oh, that's a great ending. I wish they could hear the passion in your voice. Girl, that rocks! You rock!