August 4th, 2010
02:56 PM ET
Gospel music legend Sandi Patty says the inspiration for her new book, “The Edge of the Divine,” came from a trip past Disneyland.
It may seem odd that a woman who has won nearly 40 Dove awards and five Grammys was once at home crying, stunned and not knowing what to do after an audition for a singing job ended in a big, fat "no."
But that happened when Patty tried out for a gig at the famous park as a teenager. Three weeks after the tryout, she got a rejection letter, saying she was a good singer but was too overweight and was a poor dancer.
The heartbreak put her on the edge, she said recently by phone. But instead of staying in Southern California, Patty left for college in Indiana to study music. On her new path, she was discovered by gospel greats Bill and Gloria Gaither.
She drove past Disneyland a year ago and thought about how different her life could have been.
“God wasn’t saying no,” said Patty, 54. “He was saying yes to another dream. It was the edge of something great and I had to make that leap.”
Patty says that writing the new book, her sixth, was also a way to be reminded that God sometimes works on a different schedule than the one we want.
“If we just wait to God to reveal his plan, it makes the disappointment of a given day or situation” seem relatively trivial, she said.
Patty also said that God sends signs. She recalled the modern parable of a man stranded on his roof during a flood. He prayed for God’s help. A little while later a boat comes by and the people in it tell him to get in. He refuses, saying God will deliver him.
The boat goes away and the waters turn treacherous but a helicopter comes by. The man again says it’s OK because God will save him. The chopper flies away and a little while later the man slips into the raging waters and drowns.
In heaven, the man meets God and asks, "Why didn’t you save me?" God replies, “Son, I sent a boat and a helicopter.”
Patty used that story to explain how she struggled with her feelings about her weight for years, even before the audition rejection, but had trouble realizing what she should do. After nearly four decades, she said she realized that God was leading her toward a medical solution and she saw a doctor who suggested lap band surgery.
“Isn’t that cheating God?” she recalled asking the doctor.
The doctor said, “You’re cheating your family if you die too soon.”
Patty has lost more than 80 pounds since the recent surgery.
The book was both hard and easy to write, Patty said. Easy in that she had a good partner, longtime friend Sue Ann Jones, whom Patty said has a great ear. But the difficult part was going back to those painful times, dredging up memories to set the stage for the stories she wanted share.
But she said it was important to honestly recount hard times so that she and other women could grow.
“You have to address those issues and learn to feel worthy in the eyes of God,” she said.
The book is intended as a companion to a new a new Patty album scheduled for release later this month.
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