In Whitney Houston’s prime, her voice was angelic, strong, and almost otherworldly. Her career began in the eighties with a fresh face and bright-eyes, coming from a modeling and gospel music background. But after years in the industry and her rocky fifteen-year marriage to Bobby Brown, she became a different person.
She gave an interview with Diane Sawyer in 2002, in which she was defensive and proud. She made fun of people on crack, suggested she used more sophisticated drugs, and seemed to still be in the throes of addiction.
Gollum in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings was transformed into something totally different because he became obsessed with something dark and magical. Tolkien shows us the stark reality of what happens when we seek the wrong prize, and so does Whitney Houston’s tragic demise. Though Whitney wasn’t seeking a shiny ring (she had enough of those), she did succumb to a darker side. When Diane Sawyer, asked her what her biggest vice was, she expected her to say alcohol, marijuana, cocaine or pills. But Whitney surprised her by saying “No one makes me do anything I don’t want to do. It’s my decision, so the biggest devil is me.”
I see this draw of the “ring” in everyday life as a mom. It doesn’t have to be illegal drugs, it can be anything that takes us off the pathway toward God. Perhaps it’s food? Exercise? Affirmation? Power? “Words With Friends” (a Scrabble games I personally have been playing too much…)? Alcohol? Love? Facebook? Anger? Video games? (If you have video gaming kids, you know that Gollum-esque look they get when you say it’s time to stop playing.)
Whitney wasn’t like us. She was a superstar who sang the National Anthem at the Superbowl, graced the covers of popular magazines, and entertained millions on the big stage.
But she went from beautiful model and superstar singer to sweating, ranting, raspy-voiced addict in her short lifetime. Her choices led her to darkness, destruction and very sadly, an untimely death where she left a teenage daughter behind.
In other words, she was like us…a person with daily choices.
What path are you on? Where are you going? What’s your ring?