Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Christina Grimmie: Humble, Free, True to Herself

As we Americans still try to process the horrible violence and destruction that exploded last week in Las Vegas, and that continues to haunt our society, my thoughts go back to the awful event that took the life of Christina Grimmie on this night 16 months ago.💚

Christina once said, "Humility isn't 'getting squashed lower than we deserve.' It's seeing ourselves accurately before God."

I am struck by the fact that humility, as Christina defined it here, is an expression of how she lived her life. It was this struggle to see herself accurately before God—to recognize and be true to her real self—that made her so free.

When people saw Christina Grimmie on YouTube, or The Voice, or in concert, it was not only her incredible talent that struck them. It was also her passion, her readiness to take risks, her zest for life, her freedom. People loved her because of it.

Even more, Christina gave us hope that we too could be free. We don't have to be musicians or celebrities to discover the unique, infinitely precious value that each one of us has as a person made by God and called to share His joy.

Christina showed us how to stand before God and let Him reveal to us who we really are. She sang and made music because she loved it; it was her talent and it was a special way that the fire of God's love touched her heart. She was trying to make it in the music business, but only by being herself, by remaining true before God.

It wasn't easy. But she stayed true. She stayed humble. She stayed free.

Because she lived in the light of that fire, we were able to recognize the flame in ourselves: the love that shapes us, that empowers us to live freely, that roots us in God and gives us worth.

Humility means seeing ourselves accurately before God. God is the source of our value. He created us. He redeemed us. We are precious to Him beyond anything we can imagine, and we can be confident that He will bring us to the fulfillment of our humanity and the freedom He gives to us.

Christina Grimmie made tremendous, beautiful music and enjoyed some success in her brief career (though not nearly in proportion to her creativity and immense talent). Her great hope was to be an inspiration to others in her art and in her way of living, by being true to herself before God, by putting God first and recognizing that without Him "all is vanity."

This was what made her so outstandingly free, so human, so joyful, so genuine, so hilariously funny, and so dedicated to the struggle to keep her integrity as a person and fulfill her vocation. She wanted to inspire us also to take the risk of being humble and experience the joy of being free. She wanted us to learn that our value as persons is not determined by other people's whims, narrowness, or caprice. She showed us that we are not defined by the dominant mentality with its ruthless ambitions, or by what other people say, whether they like us or not, whether we fit in with the trends, how we look, whether we are young or old, rich or poor, whether we succeed or fail...whether we live or die....

This final promise of freedom is not something we expected to learn from her so suddenly and so soon. It is a hard and painful thing, and it will take time to learn through the pain and the strangeness of her absence from ordinary everyday life. It is an absence that many people all over the world experience to some degree, because of her powerful capacity to sustain connections through audiovisual and social media. But it is distinctly intense and immediate for her family and loved ones. The anguish of grief is itself a sign of the inexhaustible preciousness of a human person.

Moreover, after 16 months we continue to be reminded of the awful fragility of this present life with all the looming dangers and ferocious powers bent on destroying it. These powers would have us live in terror and desperation, as slaves to whatever claims to offer temporary security.

But evil cannot overcome the one who is humble. In a world full of violence, the inspiration of Christina as a person continues to reach us and help us. For her life has not "ended" in nothingness. She lives as a person; her life has been completed and accomplished, and she stands, ultimately, as her true self, with complete accuracy before God.

She is with God, and has not been squashed or defeated. We are confronted with this mysterious reality, and we must learn to place our hope there for ourselves too, so that we might live here in freedom. She does not want any of us to give up.

Today more than ever, Christina Grimmie's witness encourages us all to remember—even in the midst of our sorrow—that evil and death do not have the last word on human existence.