“Self-love seems so often unrequited.” -- Anthony Powell
"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” -- Buddha
Since Saturday night, I, like so many others across this world, have been sorting through an abundance of emotions surrounding the life, legacy and loss of the legendary Whitney Houston. Like most of you, I never had the opportunity to meet her, but I feel as if I got to know her over the years through her music, movies and interviews (both good and bad). If I go back a little further, I vaguely recall seeing her in the pages of Seventeen magazine when I was a teenager. So, for all intents and purposes, Whitney has been a part of my life for the majority of my life.
With that being said, I am feeling a big sense of loss now that she is gone, just as I did when we lost Michael Jackson a few short years ago. Some of my sadness arises from the fact that we will never hear the new music that she could have created or witness her on-screen reunion with the ladies of Waiting to Exhale in Terry McMillan's sequel, Getting to Happy. Some of my tears have fallen because her passing represents yet another reminder that my childhood is gone and my own mortality is inevitable. However, the thing that grieves me the most is the fact that Whitney never fully realized that learning to love herself was undoubtedly the Greatest Love of All.
Today, Valentine's Day, is one of those holidays that can either bring you a lot of joy if you have a significant other to shower you with symbols of adoration, or a lot of pain if you long for a relationship, but find yourself spending another V-Day with your girls instead of with your soul mate. However, there is a love that surpasses anything that any person can give you (and is second only to the love that God has for you), and that is love for yourself.
A woman who loves herself will not settle for less than the best in any area of her life: She will not allow anyone to abuse her physically, mentally, spiritually or emotionally. She will not waste her time and energy in dead-end relationships with men who do not have her best interests at heart. She will not dishonor her temple by carrying excess weight, abusing drugs and alcohol or having unprotected sex. She will not waste her gifts and talents in a job that she dreads going to every day. She will not allow herself to drown in a sea of debt just to impress others with the latest bag and shoes. She will not let others define who and what she should be. She will not give so much of herself to others that she has nothing left for herself.
While we won't know what ultimately took her away from us for a few weeks, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we lost Whitney when she lost her love for herself. (I realize that drug addiction is an illness, but it begins with the first hit, which is a free-will choice, and not a loving thing to do to yourself.) We cannot sit in judgement of her because each and every one of us has engaged in something that is not good for us at some point in our lives and may still be dealing with the repercussions of choices that were less-than-ideal.
The lesson in Whitney Houston's life is not so much in the negative things that she may have done, but in the underlying sentiment that caused her to live less than ideally in spite of all of the awards and accolades that she received from the world-at-large. For her, self-love was not so "easy to achieve." My hope is that you will learn to love yourself and that your life will be a true representation of The Greatest Love of All.