First-time author Pat Smith is feeling good these days. Her new book, “Second Chances,” is taking off, her husband, football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, and their five children are doing well and most important, her relationship with Christ grows stronger each day.
Her upbeat attitude is a stark contrast to the depression and sense of loss she to used to feel. Fortunately, she said, God’s grace covered her and His direction led her to write about rediscovering purpose and joy in life.
“I wrote “Second Chances” to give hope to people, to tell them don’t give up,” said Smith. “Sometimes, we lose hope when we get to such a desperate, dark place and think, ‘My life would be better if I was gone.’ That is a lie. God wants us to live.
“In my book, I really share some of the things that helped me push forward during moments of despair and darkness. I’m so glad I did because God is really with us through all of the setbacks and pain.”
A number of events pushed Smith into a state of depression. She believes the dark thoughts started with her mother’s death from breast cancer when Smith was 22-years-old.
At the time, she was competing to become the first African American Miss Virginia, a contest she won, but also increased feelings of anxiety and pressure as she sought the 1994 Miss USA title.
“I looked at that (pageant) as an avenue to pursue my bigger dreams in television,” recalled Smith. When she received first runner up, she said, “I felt like a loser.”
Next, she moved to Los Angeles, began dating comedian/actor Martin Lawrence and they married within a year. A daughter was soon born, however the union didn’t last and Smith counted it as another loss in her life.
Her job disappointments grew as she continuously auditioned, yet didn’t get the job. In 2000, Smith married Emmitt and focused on supporting him in his career.
“When [his career] was over, I thought, ‘Finally, I can get back to pursuing the passion and dreams that are inside of me. That’s when Emmitt told me he was doing “Dancing With The Stars.”
“I just really felt, ‘God, what happened to my dreams? What happened to all of these things I thought were inside of me?’ I could just feel rejection and bitterness starting to accumulate. I thought, ‘It’s all over.’ I felt very bad and depressed about it,” recalled Smith.
In the midst of her pain, God used His messenger to speak to Smith. During a visit to The Potter’s House in Dallas, God’s instruction came through loud and clear.
“I remember Bishop (T.D.) Jakes saying, ‘Whatever it is God has called you to do, you can do it,’ and that just resonated in my spirit. It felt like God was speaking directly to me,” she insisted.
At that moment, Smith realized God had been with her all of her life, directing her towards His purpose for her, but she refused to acknowledge His instructions.
“I ignored it because it didn’t look like I thought it should. After you’ve been through years of disappointment and loss, auditioning and not getting jobs, my self-esteem was at an all-time low. So, I just ignored the call, but that day, I received it.”
With the help of family and friends, Smith organized a retreat to help women recover from setbacks in life. She also interviewed “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts and other women during an event in Dallas.
All of the panelists talked about major setbacks and losses they experienced and through God, they bounced back. Inspired by their stories and recognizing the similarities to her own life, Smith decided to write “Second Chances.”
“I just believe through our pain, God can create unique opportunities for us in a powerful way and that’s why I wrote the book,” she said. “So many of us feel like failures when things don’t go like we want. Many times what we want is not even God’s best for us. His best for us is sometimes greater than we can even imagine.”
Smith not only shares the message of God’s grace in “Second Chances,” but also communicates that truth as a motivational speaker and as host of “Keep the Faith.” Although her schedule stays busy with family, church, business and civic commitments, she keeps God first in her life.
“Proverbs 3:5 is the scripture that I leaned on. My husband shared it with me when we started dating. His grandmother shared it with him when he went off to college. That scripture has really guided me though in my life. I just want to trust in Him and lean on Him. You can’t go wrong that way.”
“Second Chances” is available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Nobel (bn.com).