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Roma Downey Discovers Light in the Darkest Moments

“Okay, so this is my book, Box of Butterflies and I have something very special to share with you today. You ready?”

Roma Downey is smiling and joyous sitting down with CBN at her Lightworkers studio outside of Los Angeles, CA.  She’s excited to talk about the release of her new book, Box of Butterflies, which delves into some of her darkest moments.  “My mother, unfortunately, died unexpectedly when I was just 10 years of age.  It was like the lights had been turned out and it created a lot of heartache and confusion. I thank God we were a family of faith. So, you know, we were able to really lean into our faith to support us.  I remember going up to the city cemetery with my dad and a butterfly flew up behind the stone. And my dad said, ‘Would you look at that little butterfly? That could be your mother’s spirit right there.’  And in the midst of my heartbreak as a child, it brought me such comfort, the idea that my beloved mother somehow was still with me. It also started just to represent that God was with me. And any time I felt down or I was struggling and I would move into prayer, unexpectedly these butterflies would show up, maybe on a truck or on a billboard or a tattoo or something and they just came to represent hope and the goodness of God."

Roma, who lost her father while she was in college, talks about how God ordered her steps from Ireland to the Big Apple and how she took a bold step at an audition, landing the role of her career, as an undercover angel named Monica on the acclaimed TV series. Touched by an Angel.

There was a scene in each episode. We called it on the set “the angel revelation scene”. And they would say God, help me. 00:13:27 Please help me. And that was the moment as the angel that we were able to step in and say I’m an angel and I have been sent by the Almighty to tell you that you are a special child of His, you know. And who hasn’t wished for that moment in their own lives, right. 00:13:53 And maybe it won’t come so profoundly for us, you know. But God is there in all the small ways. And in all the kindness that other people show you, you know. I have seen God work through a smile of somebody in a supermarket in a morning that I’m feeling stressed out. 00:14:20 I’ve seen Him work in big ways in my life, you know. I’ve seen Him—He brought Della Reese to me. I was a girl that needed a mother. And Della Reese stepped into my life to be the mother that I’d always longed for.

Roma lost her Touched by an Angel co-star and friend Della Rese in 2017. She finds comfort in knowing Della gave Box of Butterflies her blessing before it went to print. The pages tell how their relationship bloomed beyond the set.

“I loved her, of course, but I really admired her. She was a pioneer in so many ways and she was so courageous. Having come up in the 50’s and 60’s as a black woman in this country and the things that she had to endure…she just, you know, just had so much courage and grace. And while we were working together, her only daughter died and so I became the daughter that she was looking for, and she became the mother that I was looking for. And only God could do that. When I asked her if she would honor me by writing the forward and she said, ‘Where do I sign up?”

Her book is filled with scriptures and uplifting quotes from famous poets and influencers---from Nelson Mandela and Hellen Keller to Rick Warren. They’re words of kindNess and love, Roma says we all need to hear from time to time.

“I see when I go on my social media that there’s a lot of people hiding behind the anonymity of, you know, Instagram handles or Twitter handles and just saying the most hateful things to each other and I think like that’s one real practical way that we could show up in our faith by, you know, don’t be mean. Let’s speak words of love to each other. Let’s respect each other. Let’s reach out and find a little bit of unity.”

The actress, producer, and author recently launched the website Lightworkers.com which features short video clips that highlight the goodness all around us. 

“It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. I love that. It’s like instead of sitting around moaning about all the negativity or the bad stuff that’s happening, get up, get off the couch and do something about it, you know. Take an action.

Roma acknowledges God’s love as the light that guided her through darkness, developed her character, and shaped her into the woman she is today.

“Oh my gosh. God’s love has just taken me, taken the girl who thought she was unworthy, you know. There was a little child in me somehow thought if I had been more or better or had done something different, that my mom wouldn’t have died. And it was the love of Jesus and, you know, the just leaning into, knowing that that unconditional love supply isn’t going anywhere. And the promise through our faith and through Jesus, that my mom might be dead, but I’m going to see her again. And this is the promise that we all have.”

And, as for her hopes for Box of Butterflies…

“I know that there’s somebody out there that’s hurting, that’s feeling the pain of a loss of somebody they loved and I wrote the book just for them. I think other people might enjoy it, but I know there’s one person out there that’s really going to bring home to God. And that was my plan for the book, that it would bring people home to God. That it would, you know, that it would remind them. And so I pray that’s what it does.”

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