Johnson reveals life uncommon
Associate News Editor
Speaking to a room full of women who knew all too well what it as like to be uncommon, Chandra Johnson, assistant to University President Father Edward Malloy, voiced her story and the stories of women Biblical figures on the journey to overcome challenges in reaching a higher level of self-awareness.
The talk, sponsored by A Life Uncommon, a faith-based group of University women, meets weekly to discuss eating disorder issues using spirituality as a basis to cope with their own inner conflicts.
The group was formed one year ago by students who wanted to confront eating disorders from a spiritual perspective. To achieve these goals, the students asked Johnson to act as advisor for the group.
Johnson's own unconventional, yet ambitious life-story provided inspiration to the group as she moved from her family in Los Angeles to start a new and strikingly different life as a 38 year-old undergraduate student at Notre Dame.
"To literally recreate my life was the right thing to do," said Johnson.
Now as a leader in the Notre Dame community, Johnson is helping to redefine the lives of other undergraduate women facing similar pressures that she once faced as a student.
"I think we're helping to enhance the culture at Notre Dame for women in a way that's more conducive to our lifestyle and to our ways of thinking," said Johnson.
Frequently referring to the Bible, Johnson cited the lessons and stories of some of its women as a source of reflection and strength in improving personal will.
Johnson pointed to the creation story in the Bible in relating Eve's self-doubt to the struggles of many other women in identifying healthy self-images.
"Our power rests in that we're not afraid to share our story," said Johnson of the women gathered around to hear her message. "Whenever I share my story, someone is healed — and that has to do with God," she said.
In defining what it means to be uncommon, Johnson cited society's paradigms that confine women to fit into unrealistic standards and roles.
"Living a life uncommon has everything to do with self-esteem," said Johnson. "It has everything to do with your belief in God — it's a faith issue," she said.
In the Garden of Eden, Johnson likened Eve's temptation to outside, worldly distractions that can often influence a person in assessing their own self-worth.
Even though Eve had everything, she still felt she wasn't enough, said Johnson. By going outside of herself to achieve more was the path she and countless other women choose from societal pressures she said. Accepting yourself as you truly are is important in reaching inner spiritual peace said Johnson.
"When you believe in Christ, you believe without a shadow of a doubt, that we were created in the likeness of God," said Johnson.
It begins from within by controlling inner perceptions about the self, said Johnson. Through this reflection, women gain strength in knowing that it begins from within she said.
"To live a life uncommon means that you find for yourself your sacred space," said Johnson. "There's nothing that you need that you don't already have."
All News Stories for Thursday, April 25, 2002