I skimmed a stack of bills while a panel of pundits overanalyzed the latest round of political debates on CNN. That’s when I heard the news.
“CNN has confirmed that one of the world’s best selling music artists of all time, Whitney Houston, has died, at the age of 48,” reported the anchor.
I increased the volume, took a seat on the couch and began processing those peculiar emotions that rise up when you get that sort of celebrity news. Dozens of photos began looping endlessly, telling the story of a life filled with triumph and tribulations. I wondered about Whitney’s eternal destination. Was she saved?
A video clip of Whitney singing “Saving all my Love for You” disrupted my concern...
It was 1985. My brand new husband and I blissfully drove our younger selves around the island of Maui on our honeymoon, living the life of Riley for seven carefree days. “Saving all my Love for You” was at the top of every radio station’s play list. A year later, MTV showed us the amazing face that went with that amazing voice. I watched Whitney dance around those mirrors, with those cheesy back-up dancers, in her perfect silver dress. She was 22 years old. I was 23. It was an exhilarating time for me – and Whitney.
I turned the channel in search of more breaking news updates. “Houston’s second album, which was released in June 1987, was a worldwide hit and catapulted her to international stardom,” said a reporter who was live at the Beverly Hilton Hotel where the singer died.
Whitney’s music pulsed through my veins during my long, daily commutes. It was the start of my career some 25 years ago and I could feel our lives falling into a comfortable groove. With good jobs and our first apartment, life was easy and exciting. If there were mountains to climb in this lifetime, the peaks were unseen from where we stood at that time.
The news coverage continued, “Despite all her achievements, personal struggles plagued Whitney’s life. Many blamed bad-boy Bobby Brown who would become Whitney’s husband in 1992, the same year that her smash hit-movie The Bodyguard was released.”
I saw The Bodyguard twice and then heard that Whitney was dating Bobby Brown. Whitney and I were pregnant at the same time for a few months in 1993. We loved motherhood AND our careers. You know, “we’re every woman”. In 1997, I sat in the third row and watched Whitney live in concert at the Aloha Stadium. Something wasn’t quite right. Still, “My Love is Your Love” was a permanent fixture in my CD player when it released the following year. I marveled at how music could soothe a troubled heart. Life was starting to pile up.
A clip of Whitney performing on the Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary Special jolted me back to my television screen. According to the anchor, her publicist would later blame stress as the cause of the singer’s skeletal appearance.
In 2002, I was born again. I saw on the news that Whitney journeyed to Israel … good for her! Then there was the reality show Being Bobby Brown. I never saw it. I changed the channel on my radio and new CD’s replaced old ones. I guess you can say that Whitney and I simply grew apart. And, although her final album, “I Look to You”, went gold; I never heard a single song from it.
I was back on CNN. A heartbreaking photo of a worn and weary Whitney encroached upon my television screen, followed by a video clip of Whitney singing “Jesus Loves Me” in a bar, at a party – just two days prior. It was reported that the megastar got her start as a young gospel singer.
Was Whitney saved? The question rushed back at me.
Had her troubled life led her to reject the Lord or did she cling to Him in the end?
I watched intently as Whitney’s music video “I Look to You” began to play on my laptop. Her eyes lifted up to the heavens as she belted the chorus: “I Look to You, I Look to You, after all my strength has gone, in you I can be strong,” her hand rising up as if to take His.
A new Whitney song etched its mark on my life.
Psalm 73:26 (NKJV)
My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
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