I was mesmerized by Whitney Houston’s televised memorial service. Maybe, I do miss church gatherings a little bit after all. They certainly “had church”!
Whitney was blessed with an amazing gift, a voice that she honed into something extraordinary. She was, apparently, a very sweet, relational soul with an abiding faith in Jesus Christ; a beautiful woman with poise and grace. She sang. She acted. She modeled. She had it all. I kept hearing about this Whitney.
I did not hear about the Whitney who was a drug user, who had a troubled marriage, and a daughter who would eventually follow in her mother’s tragic footsteps. That’s not appropriate material for a memorial service.
Yet, there is deeper aspect to Whitney’s life. There was something that drove her to a drug addiction, and threatened her career for years, finally taking her very life. What was it? She had everything that most people long for.
Out of a list of speakers that filled four hours of tributes in today’s service, Kevin Costner, her Bodyguard costar was the only one that I heard who dared to broach the topic.
He told the story of her casting call for The Bodyguard. He visited her after the studio make-up artists had applied their craft, at which time she asked for twenty minutes to herself. He assumed that she, being a person of faith, was using those final moments to pray and focus. Finally, she walked onto the stage and recited only a very few lines and Costner abruptly stopped the screen test.
As they walked together back to her trailer and sat down, she asked what happened. He said, I think you should look in the mirror. To her shock, her make-up had literally melted under the bright lights and was running down her face. During those twenty minutes alone, she had washed off the original make-up and redid it herself. Only, she used the kind of make-up that she used in music videos which was much heavier and could not hold up under the brighter lighting of the casting call.
As she and Costner worked together, they become good friends, but he soon discovered that Whitney possessed a deep inner insecurity, always wondering, “Am I good enough?”
I know it seems crazy for someone with truckloads of looks and talent to be haunted by an unreasonable insecurity that would lead to self-destruction, but it is not an uncommon tale.
Whitney’s insecurity is not just a curse of celebrity, nor is it an anomaly. It is part of the human condition. Everyone is gifted in unique ways, but a lot of us don’t do much with our gifts because we wonder, am I good enough? We have done some pretty cool stuff, but we won’t acknowledge it, because we wonder if it was good enough. We toy with various types of potentially self-destructive thoughts and behavior to assuage our fears and ease our pain, because we fear we are not good enough and will never be good enough.
Personally, I am full of insecurity. Prolonged unemployment, personal betrayal, and failed attempts to reboot my career have amplified the volume of those dark voices. Oh, I know the reality, but often I don’t feel it in the least. Those things that I do feel are so painful; I would gladly do something stupid to make the pain go away. That’s me under the microscope… insecure.
If I pan out to look at the human condition, I find varying manifestations of the same insecurity. I also find a God who is not content in being known in a far off sort of way, but one who wanted to get up close and personal, down and dirty with humanity so we would get his message.
His message? If I understand anything at all about God, if there is anything that the Bible makes clear, if there is anything that Jesus taught and lived, it is this: I love you. You don’t need to try to be good enough.
Wonder if you can do it? You’re good enough! Should you launch out? You’re good enough! Keep looking over your shoulder and wondering? You’re good enough! Ready to bail? Hold on! You’re good enough! Ready to do anything to make the pain go away? Don’t, because you’re good enough! Checkered past? You’re good enough! Self-destructive tendencies? You’re good enough! Unacceptable? Here’s breaking news! You’re good enough! Full of doubt and worry? You’re good enough!
You’re good enough!
Originally posted February 22, 2011.