“God is the only con­stant”

Os­car win­ner Louis Gos­sett Jr. opens up

Simple Grace - - Front Page - By Deb­o­rah Evans Price

Os­car win­ner Louis Gos­sett Jr. opens his heart to Sim­ple Grace about how God’s love sus­tained him even in his dark­est hours—and taught him to live a life of grat­i­tude and joy

First thing each morn­ing and last thing ev­ery night, Louis Gos­sett Jr. says a prayer of grat­i­tude for the amaz­ing bless­ings he’s re­ceived through­out his 80 years of life—in­clud­ing a lov­ing fam­ily and a sixdecade film ca­reer that gar­nered him an Os­car for An Of­fi­cer and a Gentle­man and an Emmy for the land­mark minis­eries Roots. But the Brook­lyn na­tive says one of the big­gest bless­ings he’s re­ceived was to be was raised in a faith­filled home by his great­grand­mother. “She kept us kids rooted in the Bi­ble and taught us to love God,” Louis re­calls with a smile. “I was a post-De­pres­sion kid and there were a lot of chal­lenges for us dur­ing that

time, but my great-grand­mother taught me that with God, there’s no such thing as im­pos­si­ble.” Here, Louis opens up about how God’s con­stant pres­ence has got­ten him through his dark­est times, helped him achieve his big­gest tri­umphs and filled his life with an abun­dance of love.

HE PULLS US UP FROM THE PIT

Though he grew up with strong Chris­tian val­ues, as a young ac­tor Louis strug­gled with ad­dic­tion. “Early on in my ca­reer, as an African-Amer­i­can man, there were a lot of racial is­sues,” he says. “To join the Hol­ly­wood crowd, I felt I had to join the party, where there was a lot of drugs and al­co­hol. I thought I’d re­ally made it by be­ing in­cluded, but it al­most killed me. My life sim­ply stopped work­ing. I was out of work, out of money.”

Dur­ing his dark­est days, Louis re­mem­bered the words he’d heard grow­ing up. “I went back to what my grand­mother told me: ‘A hard head makes a soft be­hind.’ So I hum­bled my­self and asked God for His help,” says Louis. “But be­fore I could do any­thing, I had to get rid of re­grets, hate, jeal­ousies and low self-es­teem, oth­er­wise I knew I couldn’t hear God in my heart.”

To help him re­con­nect with God, Louis be­gan read­ing his Bi­ble again. “Dur­ing those dark times, I said, ‘God, please don’t let this [ad­dic­tion] kill me,’” re­calls Louis. “The dis­ease is so bad, even when you know it’s lit­er­ally killing you, you do it any­way. But I found strength in Him.

I of­ten turned to the prayer of St. Fran­cis [see box at right], and the 23rd Psalm, which as­sured me of God’s good­ness and mercy—no mat­ter what.” And in the mid­dle of all his par­ty­ing, Louis says that psalm kept run­ning through his head. “It taught me that if I re­mained in the palm of God’s hand, He would help me through this and life would be­come eas­ier,” he says. “That’s been true for ev­ery chal­lenge or hard­ship I’ve faced since.”

HE OR­DERS OUR STEPS

As Louis over­came his ad­dic­tion and grew closer to God, it was only nat­u­ral that his bond with his heav­enly Fa­ther would in­form his pro­fes­sional choices too. “My faith has in­flu­enced the projects I’ve worked on over the years—I want to be proud of my choices,” says Louis, who has starred in the Chris­tian films Left Be­hind: World at War and A Fon­der Heart. Next up, he’s play­ing a pas­tor in The Rea­son, set to re­lease in 2017. “I take part in movies like The Rea­son be­cause I see it as my pur­pose to share my faith—it’s my way of thank­ing God,” he shares. “And in a world where peo­ple are hun­ger­ing for God, these movies re­mind us that He’s in charge all the time. That was a hard les­son for me—that no mat­ter how fa­mous I get, I’m never go­ing to be in charge. I’ve learned to let go and let God.”

HE’S A BEST FRIEND

Louis just turned 80 in May and he says his se­cret to longevity is lean­ing on God’s friend­ship ev­ery day. “Friends come and go, but God is the only con­stant. And like any good friend, I try to keep my­self avail­able and have an

open heart so that He can speak to me.” Louis in­sists the Lord is al­ways send­ing him mes­sages, even about the lit­tlest things. “If I get winded go­ing from my house to my car, I know God is telling me that I need to take bet­ter care of my­self,” he says with a laugh. “The key is to fill your heart with so much love that there’s no room for dis­trust and ha­tred, so you can hear His mes­sages and have that close­ness with Him—that’s what truly gets me through.”

HE’S A LOV­ING TEACHER

Louis says one of the big­gest lessons his life of faith has taught him was the power of for­giv­ing oth­ers… and your­self. “The truth is, as much as I love God, my faith is still tested, but if I start to feel afraid or worry or doubt and I beat my­self up about it, I know that I won’t be able to push through what­ever it is,” Louis ad­mits.

“So the only way I can re­set is to for­give my­self, be grate­ful for God’s grace and re­mem­ber He’s the boss.” Louis says it’s also a true gift to your­self to for­give oth­ers. “In any sit­u­a­tion—whether some­body gets shot, or in slav­ery or holo­caust, the magic word is al­ways for­give­ness,” he says. “My hero was Nel­son Man­dela, who was jailed for 27 years and came out with a smile on his face. For­give­ness tears down fences and puts us on the next level. It helps us to see God in each other so we can grow closer to Him.”

“No mat­ter how fa­mous I get, I’m never go­ing to be in charge. I’ve learned to let go

and let God.”

Louis (shown here with Su­san Saran­don and Christo­pher Reeve) won the Os­car for Best Sup­port­ing Ac­tor for An Of­fi­cer and a Gentle­man in 1982

Louis founded the non­profit Eracism Foun­da­tion (Eracis­mFoun­da­tion.org), ded­i­cated to end­ing racism through ed­u­ca­tion and cul­tural di­ver­sity

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