Sunday, February 12, 2012
Will this ever end?
I saw something on Facebook today that raised my blood pressure to unsafe levels. Here are some quotes from the thread. I have removed the names to protect the innocent. In regards to the passing of Whitney Houston I read the following. "She was beautiful and talented before she got into drugs". "In 6 months we're all gonna find out she [overdosed] but it won't be her fault. Let's all blame Bobby Brown, get real folks"!! I just read this headline on the the Fox News website, "Prescription drugs found in Whitney Houston's room". I am sad today, and not just because one of the great talents in the world has died.
It's not the first time I have had these feelings. I'm not gonna get on my high horse and tell you that I've never engaged in this kind of stuff so please don't read this as some self righteous blog from a guy pointing his finger at everyone else. Note that I will use "we" not "you". It's the source of some of my sadness today; the thought that I can be guilty of sensationalizing the flaws I see in others. Most notably, the rich and famous. People like Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse and Elvis Presley. People who "fell from grace". People who made the conscious decision to share their amazing, God given gifts with the world despite the fact that they knew that it would put them under the microscope forever. People who didn't handle that all so well. And since their lives could only exist in the proverbial fish bowl, their every flaw was exposed for all the world to see. What did the "world" do with that most of the time? It demonized them. It held them to a higher standard. It watched from afar and judged them without knowing a whole lot about them. It forgot, somehow, that they were human. I am a part of that world. I've done it. I've pointed. I've whispered under my breath. I've held them to the highest standard and flippantly decided that they "knew what they were getting into when they chose to go public". So it's ok for me to judge because they made it possible for me to do so. It comes with the territory. I'm sad.
I was thinking just now...what if Whitney was my daughter? How would I handle reading the posts and the headlines? How would I deal with the fact that the words, "most amazing voice in the history of the industry" were usually footnoted with "life that spiraled out of control"? How would I be able to function, having lost a child, with the judgements of her character coming from people who knew little or nothing about her? What if I was Whitney? What if my weaknesses and my struggles were exposed for all the word to see whether I liked it or not, whether I chose it or not? What if my demons were public? What if the fingers were pointed at me? Once you're in the fishbowl you will always be in the fishbowl. It's like stepping off of a high cliff. Once you make the step it can't be undone. No matter what you do you are all in. You might regret making the step once you begin to fall, but it still won't stop the fall. Maybe that's why they chose to live in the kind of "fog" that numbed them from the reality that they could never be normal again. I'm not condoning bad behavior and addiction. But it makes me wonder just the same.
Thank God for the word "redemption". God redeems. God makes us whole. Jesus, when in the midst of the most broken, made a habit of being present and loving them. The people who had fingers pointed at them because of their "sins", those who were outcasts, those who were "less than" for whatever reason, were always welcomed and loved by Jesus. They were forgiven. They were loved. We are loved. You, me, Whitney, Michael, Amy, Elvis. Loved and redeemed. I have to think that in God's eyes they were never drug addicts or alcoholics. They were broken. Lost for a time yet found. That one sheep that strayed, so loved by the shepherd that he left the flock to find them. They are home. Too soon by my standards but home nonetheless.
We make mistakes. We do things we're not so proud of. We say things we wish we could take back. Sometimes we are forgiven by the people we know and love. Some times we are not. We are never unforgiven by God. When we're lost we're found. Last night someone lost a daughter in a room on the 4th floor of the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Someone lost a mother. Someone lost a friend. I hope that I'll remember that the next time I decide to start pointing the finger at the next "fall from grace". I hope we'll all remember it. Good thing that God never forgets. Lost and then found.
Ellen and I once danced on the beach to the voice of Whitney Houston. It was sunset. One of my greatest memories. I've loved Whitney ever since. Thanks for the memory. I will miss you.