This is an article I wrote a few years ago right after Whitney Houston’s death.
Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all…
It’s Sunday night, the day after Whitney Houston’s funeral as I write this, and I just finished watching the replay on OWN of the 2009 interview that Oprah did with Whitney Houston as she waged her big come back after being out of the spotlight for a number of years.
The interview was enlightening…and I will admit I have been in the Whitney matrix for this past week ever since the news broke of her tragic passing…watching non-stop news reports, reading stories online, and irritating my loved ones by the ridiculous amount of time that I have spent watching coverage on her.
But I truly can’t help it….
For me when I was growing up, Whitney Houston was my icon. She was the perfect model of all that I wanted to be…extraordinarily beautiful, classy, and with this amazing voice that could send chills through your body.
And then…something happened.
The glow faded. The radiance disappeared. She became what many considered…simply a crackhead.
In watching all of the coverage of her over the past week and reading so many of the hurtful and disparaging online comments by some folks that have no idea WHO and WHOSE she was – I realized that it was necessary to write about Why We Should Honor Whitney.
Whitney represents us. All of us.
She is a perfect representation of the human condition.
We are all born with certain gifts and predispositions that are given to us from the time we are born. For some it takes the form of a natural gift or talent that seems to come out of nowhere, and for some it comes as a combination of the family we grew up in, disciplined hard work and/or the culmination our life experiences.
All of our gifts are for the purpose of giving God the glory.
To share our gifts in a way that represents and spreads LOVE.
And she did that…
For Whitney, her obvious gift was her amazing vocal talent. Her natural ability combined with her radiant spirit, helped catapult her to mega stardom, from the moment she arrived on the scene. She blessed us with soulful and heart felt ballads like – You Give Good Love, Saving all My Love For You, and the Greatest Love of All – and solidly took her spot as the rising vocal talent of her decade.
But the music business – like “the world” has a habit of turning you into something else to suit their own purposes. As she spoke about on Oprah – nothing prepared her for the mega fame and the experience of everyone wanting a piece of you, everyone feeling that they own you in some way, and the feeling that your life no longer being your own. In the Matrix of that experience she met a suave, sexy crooner who was at the top of his game by then – named Bobby Brown.
She said that when she met Bobby they instantly clicked. They had a lot of fun together and she was allowed to just be her and not the image of what everyone thought that she was or what they wanted her to be. Through that experience, they dated for 3 years, got married and soon had a beautiful daughter.
No one could understand how this “princess” could marry the R&B bad boy…and of course the tabloids took aim in an effort to tear their relationship apart and make bets about how long it would last.
But like everyone else in the world – Whitney was seeking love – true love.. And she had found it…a passionate, crazy love- or so she thought. She admitted to Oprah, that they laughed hard, they played hard…made passionate love and she was swept up in a wave of it all.
Then as her fame skyrocketed as a result of her extreme talent and blessings, the relationship started to change. She felt the inklings of jealousy from her man as her fame and notoriety grew. So, like so many of us out here, she decided that she would dim her own light so that she would not outshine her man. She started doing interviews referencing herself as Mrs. Bobby Brown (instead of her professional name Whitney Houston), she would do interviews where the reporters wanted to talk about her and her success and she would start talking about how her man was the King of R&B.
In her effort to build her man up, she tore herself down and became less of who she was so that she could ride into the sunset with her husband and get the love that she so urgently desired.
But of course that’t not what happened…
From her own words, she started to lose her way and was trying her best to fall into the role of a good and submissive wife. Given her level of fame it was a difficult tight rope to walk as she tried to balance a public who wanted more and more of her, a small child, and a husband who was envious of her success.
So..in an effort to follow him…and be with him – she did what he did.
We did everything together…
I’m not going to sit here and say that Bobby Brown made Whitney do drugs, that she had not done them before she met him, or that he is to blame for her addiction struggles – however I will say that people that you choose to have around you can either help you evolve in releasing your God given gifts to the world or they can turn off the light that is shining within you.
During her interview with Oprah , she went on to say that her drug use was very light before her acting debut, The Bodyguard was released but 3 years later by the time the movie The Preachers Wife was released – she was doing drugs every day.
She said something during her interview that I thought was really interesting. She admitted her drug use but she also pointedly said that “Bobby was her drug“.
She was addicted to him and the need to have him love her. So she did whatever, however, whenever so that she could cater to what she thought he needed and what would make him happy. She also said that she continued to use the drugs because at that point, she was trying to hide the pain and the unhappiness that had set in from the process of trying to be be less of herself in an effort to please someone else. The ironic part is that she STILL did not get the love she desired.
As I listened to that comment and reflected on it, I thought about the fact that so many of us do that. We have a desire in our heart, a gift, a talent, a true purpose for being here and we dim or turn off that light so that we don’t outshine others. We toss our gifts and passions aside because someone tells us we can’t do something because we aren’t smart enough, beautiful enough, rich enough, educated enough…the list goes on…And when you look at it 99.9% of the time this is done because we are in some form or fashion looking for love from others.
There is nothing wrong with wanting love. We all deserve it and we all need it. However, we cannot diminish our own light without suffering dire emotional and sometimes physical consequences that often take the form of substance abuse, ill health and obesity, depression and multitude of dysfunction. The universe won’t allow it.
God is love and once you come to really, truly understand what that means and absorb God’s love you will understand that the greatest love you can have is in this order –
1) Love of God
2) Love of Yourself
This is referenced in the Bible when the Saduccees asked Jesus’s what is the greatest law, In Matthew 22:37-40, he replied:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Although it is not implicitly said, it is gathered that you cannot love your neighbor if you do not love yourself. Therefore the goal is to grow in your love of God, then grow in your love of self (embracing your gifts, uniqueness, and purpose) so that you can then share that love with others.
Even through her drug addiction- Whitney said that she still read her bible and she still prayed. She sought God, she sought God’s love and slowly but surely she was able to pull herself back to herself -as she learned from “where cometh her help”.
She found the strength to leave a situation that was not growing, evolving and enveloping her in love. And when she did – her life transformed…she got back her glow…she got back her sparkle and she returned to the stage to share her gift. Unfortunately, by that time the collective consciousness of so many viewed her in a negative light. Doubted her capabilities. Reduced her to nothing more than a junkie…
Yes she had her challenges in the eyes of her comeback – often losing her voice and being unable to hit the notes that just flowed through effortlessly. But instead of the public and media giving her love and support – she was shunned, mocked and given up on.
But at that point…it didn’t matter. Because she had finally got it.
Her self identity came from not what the world said about her, but what God said about her and because of what God said about her she was able to adjust what she said about herself.
She was at peace. She got it.
Just like the words from the song that she sang so early in her career that seemed to take a lifetime for her to embrace from herself.
“The Greatest Love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all”
She got it and just like that – her assignment was over.
Whitney, I honor your life today and thank God for your witness of His Love through your amazing musical talents and gifts. I also give praise for the ministry of your life that allowed your influence to impact people all around the world. Through your sudden passing, you gave the world the opportunity to focus and reflect on the direction they are headed. Your life provided the opportunity for people to understand that if they are engaging in activities, dimming their lights and going down a path that does not give God/Love the glory…then they are headed down a path of destruction. Thank you Lord for her light, thank you God for her love.
In Love and Gratitude Always,