“There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Wiktionary.org states that the etymology of this saying is, “Allegedly from a mid-sixteenth-century statement by John Bradford, in reference to a group of prisoners being led to execution…
I grew up singing and in Junior High wanted to be just like Whitney Houston. I even got a spiral perm so I could copy her look from the video, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” I would write “Whitney Morales (my maiden name)” at the top of homework I would turn in. So imagine my delight when I found out she was pregnant at the same time I was (only I was 18 at the time and she was 28)! For the record, I did not plan to get pregnant just because she was pregnant. I was a huge fan, for sure, but definitely knew to draw the line on that one. Well, lo and behold, she has her daughter, Bobbi Kristina, in March of ’93, and I had my daughter, Gabbie, in March of ’93 as well. The similarities did not end there. She was in a troubled relationship, and so was I. She had demons to battle, and so did I. The difference…me and my daughter are alive today, and she and her daughter are not. This, too, could have been my fate. There, but for the grace of God, go I. I cannot explain this. Whitney Houston achieved so much in her career, and I didn’t even scratch the surface of my singing aspirations. She had limos and a glam squad, and I had a barely working Ford Ranger and a fistful of Sav-On cosmetics. I start this blog post with this story not because I have achieved all the success I have ever wanted in my own eyes but because I have not and just maybe that was my saving grace.
It’s not like I made some big decision along the way to get right with God and get my act together – that’s what gets me. I didn’t do anything. I’m sitting here thinking, “How did this all happen? How did this almost 44 year old woman escape the self-sabotage and self-destructive ways of her past to live to see this day?” All these thoughts came flooding to my mind when I was driving to Sprouts and a Whitney Houston song came on. I started crying and thanked God for His mercy to not only save me from myself but to give me purpose and a hope.
Each day I battle things. Things that could have killed me and still could kill me. Things like: deep insecurities, painful memories, self-centeredness, control-freakiness, gossip-girl tendencies, cynicism, naivety, foolishness, anger…just to name a few. There are days I look at those things in me and think there is no way I am ever going to be anything other than what I am today – a mess. I know that in those very weak spots God shows me His power. Only His power can make me get out of bed, and with faith, put one foot in front of the other believing I have a purpose.
Because I want to live the life God has laid out for me, I wrestle now. I know I mess up every day, but the thing is I know there is nowhere else to turn. I have to turn to God. Turning to God means having the courage to do something you’ve never done before like text someone and say, “Hey I just did this stupid thing, pray for me,” or “Hey, I’m about to do this stupid thing, pray for me.” Or it could mean walking into a church for the first time or finally going to see a counselor or simply being honest with someone when they ask you how you’re doing. For me it means and has meant all these things, but it also means asking God every day to give me what I need to push against this destructive current in my life that tries to pull me back into old habits and toxic ways of thinking. There are moments when the wrestling is fierce, and there are moments when there’s a break in the action, but I want to continue to hope in Jesus – The Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6).
I might be thinking of Whitney’s life so much right now because her movie is coming out this July. I do plan to see it, and I’ll be taking a box of tissues as I know I’ll be bawling my eyes out. Thank you for reading all of this.
With all my heart,