It’s been almost a week and no doubt you’ve been as bombarded by news reports, interviews, Facebook updates, tweets, and YouTube clips regarding the life and death of Whitney Houston. Although I post ahead of schedule, I still waited to write about it because I wanted to process it. There is a lot in what I’m reading that rings true.
For instance, I’m a Gen X’er. I grew up singing How Will I Know picturing my crush of the week as I sang into my hairbrush. I had posters of Michael Jackson on my wall and to this day I can’t think of a piece of music that was an experience, that defined an era as Thriller did. Corey Haim and River Phoenix were part of my cinema experiences. And if I’m clocking in at 41 and holding, and these Gen X icons were close to my age, well, their deaths were just too soon.
Of all the press out there on Whitney’s death, there is one interview that stands out for me. I believe it’s the infamous “crack is whack” interview with Diane Sawyer ten years ago. Perhaps it’s Oprah. Whatever interview it was, the question was this—
What is your devil?
Her answer was transparent, very much so given the secrets and acting most celebrities are forced to hide behind.
“The devil is me.”
She went on to say she is her worst enemy and her best friend. Throughout the week I’ve talked to kids and read comments from adults who blame her ex-husband Bobby Brown for her decline. I’m well aware of his reputation before they married and by no means am I saying he played a part of a saint in their marriage.
But Whitney knew and spoke what we all need to own up to, myself included.
We have the free will in this life to make choices.
She knew that and admitted for her choices, she was responsible for the answer on who the devil in her life was. It was her. In my life, it is me. I might not have cocaine readily available, but I know how to get my hands on so much chocolate it was nothing for me to down a near bag of M&M’s for breakfast. That choice, as Lysa TerKeurst writes in Made to Crave, is more permissible than hard drugs, but is it beneficial? No. My health takes a hit when I make choices like that, and the option to dive into gluttony is always there.
That’s what I learned from her death—to be aware of the devil that is me. To make choices that are healthy and to own up and take responsibility when I mess up, and I will.
How about a lesson I learned from her life?
No matter where your faith is or isn’t, the same word regarding her life has been tossed around. Gift. She had a gift. My belief is God created her with purpose to sing. It’s not for me to say if she did so in a manner that advanced His Kingdom, but I know she made so many people happy and her voice was second to none. Her gift was music and she was active in that industry. I know so many people gifted in so many ways and they spend all hours of every day in every part of life but the area where they are gifted.
I refuse to let that be me.
This year is still pretty new and yet I feel frustrated with my writing life. There isn’t anything too tangible happening in 2012 beyond setbacks and delays. I understand writing is a process and there is a huge learning curve. Those who truly want it have to go after it day after day with little thanks. Only yesterday I wondered if I’m crazy to even try.
Then I remembered the gift. I’m not the best writer out there. I get that. But I know it is what God has called me to do. He has and will continue to equip me, and what a gift that is. I refuse to put that gift down.
I might not have a shelf full of trophies, but I’m going to use what I have while I have breath to do it.
And that, my friends, is what I’m taking away from the life and death of Whitney Houston.