I have been asked many times this week what my feelings are on the death of Whitney Houston. I haven’t said much about it because I think I am still feeling my way through it. It is a tragic loss. My heartfelt prayers go out to her family, who not only have to deal with her death, but have to endure the never-ending drama being played out on the television, radio,… the delving into every nook and cranny of her life and secrets. The media often forgets that Whitney, in the midst of her triumphs and tragedies, was someone’s daughter, mother, sister, and friend.
Whitney was an amazing gift with an amazing gift. She had a richness and pureness to her voice that could not be described with words. Only God could create something so universally powerful and beautiful. Her voice definitely was a part of the “Soundtrack of our lives.” I can recall my lit’ nephew Devin (back in ’92-’93) sitting in front of the stereo mesmerized while listening to I will always love you & I have nothing (both from the Bodyguard soundtrack). Who and what could make such a little boy (about 8 years old) feel so deeply? (As a matter of fact, he is still a little angry at me to this day-20 years later- because he thought I took the CD. He brought up the subject this past Christmas. Lol. It wasn’t me).
Whitney’s amazing voice reached down deep and touched every chamber of the heart. You felt loved. You felt the heartbreak. You got the revelation that you could hasten to the throne of God. You thought you had a friend you count on through thick and thin… a friendship that will never end. When you are weak, I’ll be strong, helping you to carry on… (My favorite Whitney Houston/Cece Winans song). You danced your butt off and danced your heart out because Whitney wanted to dance with somebody! You felt all of her emotions because it seemed as if she felt all of yours. What an amazing gift she had!
Interesting how people, whom you have never met, can not only touch your life but become a part of it through the power of their God-given gifts. For example, music is powerful. It is constantly with us as we journey through life. We build relationships with the artists who seem to know the issues of our lives. I can easily recall different parts of my life just by listening to a song. I remember overcoming insecurities when listening to The greatest love of all by George Benson. I recall trying to understand the loss of my Grandmother when I hear Free by Prince. I remember my first love when I hear Feel the Fire by Peabo Bryson. I recall experiencing and overcoming what I perceived as my first failure when I hear Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose by Anita Baker. I remember the crazy college days at Michigan State University, filled with laughter and funny people, when I hear House music, Boogie Down Bronx, and the timeless musical piece– Flashlight. I remember the joy and pain of learning who my real friends were and who they were not when I here Count on me by Whitney Houston & CeCe Winans. I remember pressing through my first real pain whenever I hear I love the Lord by Richard Smallwood,…
It’s not strange to me that people who never met Whitney are grieving over her death. She came into our lives at age 17 and remained right there in our lives until she died at 48. We grew up with Whitney’s music and her issues. Through her struggles, many people, with all their hearts, fought for her, prayed for her, and wanted the best for her. I know I wanted her to win, to overcome, to resist the enemy and demons that invaded her life, to not compromise her God-given greatness, to understand her true value and make her decisions based on her true value and not by the value or definition people (including herself) gave to her or took away from her, to honestly recognize the real strength within, and to enjoy life as God created her to. Did she? Did she know that she was more than just a voice? Was her life full of life, love, and laughter? Was she at peace while she lived? I don’t know. I wasn’t privy to her intimate life. I don’t really know how she lived or how she died. Whatever her cause of death, she left too soon. She left us with a legacy of music that will always touch our hearts and live on forever, but I wished she had lived.
Let’s encourage one another to live and live well. People are hurting. We must continually learn how to recognize when those around us are in trouble and we must learn how to address them- no matter who they are. Who is crumbling in your circle and yet you don’t even see it? Perhaps you see it and just figure they’d get through it because they are the strong one. Who is hurting? Listen, we have to fight for and pour into the lives of those who are around us. We cannot be selfish- quick to receive from people without giving much back- especially if they don’t look like they need anything. In addition, we have to appreciate the people in our lives for who they are without putting all of our expectations on them. We are quick to make celebrities, idols, and even gods out of people and often times so quick to criticize or throw people under the bus when they don’t live up to our expectations. I heard it said that “at the end of the day”, celebrities, pastors, and all the other people whom folks seem to put up on pedestals, are people. But listen, people are just people- not just at the end of the day. People are just people at the end of the day, the middle of the day, and at the beginning of the day. We all have the possibility of making a great contribiton/difference in the world around us as well as the possibility of going through great turmoil and crisis.
We’ve seen some tragic losses over the years- not just people in the lime light- but people in our every day lives. It makes us feel better to say, “It was God’s will” but I don’t believe that is always true. I believe that many times God would have gotten a greater testimony had they lived. I believe we miss the signs sometimes and people slip away from us- some quietly and some with a loud boom. We often forget to show people how valuable they are. We forget to tell people “You can count on me” and mean it. We shy away from telling folks, ” Stop tripping! You can beat the drugs, the overeating, the alcohol, the depression, the recession, the divorce, the failures of the past, the pressures of fame, … I’m fighting for you and with you! You don’t have to live up to everyone’s expectations- know God’s expectations and that’s enough? I know you’re hurting but joy will invade your life once again- just hold on!” We miss the signs and opportunities and sometimes people slip away from us… they slip away.
When I think of Whitney, I don’t just think of Whitney. I think of all the people who enter into our lives. We all have value, gifts, and a unique purpose given to us from God- value, gifts, purpose that once realized and stirred up will change lives (including our own) and the world around us. Whitney is gone, but we are still here. Her struggle has ended but we must still fight the good fight of faith. We still have decisions to make concerning what life we will choose to live. Will we resist the enemy that attempts to invade our lives? What will our response and behavior be in the face of adversity? Will we “live in peace before we die in peace (A Carmen Studer quote)?” Will our lives be a testament of God’s greatness and glory? Will we maximize or minimize and compromise the life God gave us?
Tomorrow is not always promised. Let us reach the end of our days- let us leave only after we have fully sang our song. Let us not leave with lyrics still left on the inside. Let us make every effort to be who God created us to be and to live in peace, be happy, and take advantage of the opportunities to sing our song (whatever that song may be) in order to impact those whom God places in our lives. Let us do it… while we still can!
Just some thoughts!
Wendy M. Reynolds