Just a few short days ago the world lost one of the greatest vocalists ever to grace the planet. Regardless of your feelings about Whitney Houston’s struggles in life, there is no denying that she inspired and touched the lives of many who without her inspirational voice and lyrics may have had very different lives.
How many weddings, parties and joyous events has her voice graced – countless no doubt?
Despite all this good she brought to the world, the self-righteous will none the less focus on the negative. I suggest to those who are quick to criticize and throw stones, because of her widely known issues, take a look inward. It’s easy to judge, to condemn, and expect perfection from someone else. Especially from a complete stranger who, due to her extreme talent and celebrity status, is placed on a pedestal and harnessed with pressures that no human being can fully handle. What’s more, all these expectations are based on a perceived reality.
But what is this perception of reality based on? Little more than what the profit driven media selectively chooses to report in order to capitalize on a culture addicted to drama and gossip. None of us who are outside the media’s eye can honestly say we know what those in the public eye go through. Nor can we honestly say how we ourselves would react if our lives were under this same type of scrutiny. Think for a moment how you would feel if every last detail, fault, and moment of your life were placed on display for everyone to see. How different would the headlines look with your life on display? If you’re honest, you probably realize the stories wouldn’t look all that different.
But what does Whitney’s life story have to do with Lifting Up Lives? A whole lot I’d say.
From the affects domestic violence had on her life, to her struggle to move beyond her personal difficulties, and the fact that she lifted others up, despite her own challenges. She did this through much of her music, but to me the lyrics of her ballad “The Greatest Love of All” connects most with what LUL is trying to achieve. Those powerful words…”no matter what they take from me, they can’t take away my dignity”, and “the greatest love of all is learning to love yourself”. These words express the reality of what the LUL program helps participants develop a confidence and love for themselves which flows into the capacity to build a supportive community that in turn leads to a joyous life filled with endless opportunity.
With the above connections in mind the questions that result are many. Would things have turned out differently had Whitney been able to truly discover and make the connection within herself that “the greatest love of all is learning to love yourself”? Would she have, through discovery garnered the strength to seek and build the foundational level of support from the right people, those who truly cared about her simply because of her inherent dignity as a human being?
Of course there is no way we’ll ever know in Whitney Houston’s case, whether greater levels of confidence and community would have prevented her from going down that slippery slope. However, there is no doubt it could have made a difference, perhaps allowing her God given talents to impact even more people’s lives.
And finally, let this sudden and tragic passing be a lesson to us all, regardless of our circumstances, or difficulties, we need not stand idly by waiting for someone else to take action, to care, to bring hope to those who need it most. Your actions need not be big things, just a smile, a kind word, or a simple yet sincere gesture can lift up the life of someone else. In the words of Mother Teresa, it’s not about looking for big things, but doing small things with great love.
What gift do you have that someone else needs right now?
Are you using your talents to better the lives of others, despite the struggles you face? If not, now is the time, the only time, the gift of one moment in time that you have to begin using your gifts to live your life as it was meant to be, to be free, to feel eternity.