Sunday, March 12, 2023

As Christina Grimmie Turns 29, She Helps Us Grow Stronger

Today is Christina Grimmie’s 29th birthday. It is hard not to imagine what her voice would have been like at this age—what further depth, richness, and versatility she might have acquired in her singing, songwriting, and instrumental virtuosity.

Things turned out differently, of course.

Instead, she fulfilled her whole vocation in this world in a very brief period of time, but with extraordinary magnanimity and lucidity, inspired by her beautiful, ardent faith. Many of her frands who were teens or pre-teens when they first encountered Christina have since grown to adulthood. Yet she is not just a distant memory for them; she continues to inspire their lives today (as she does also for people of all ages, all over the world). Christina was a young woman with an enormous heart, who was drawn so powerfully by Jesus Christ that she seemed to want to embrace the whole world. She had a joy that poured itself out in music and in a tireless enterprise of connecting with people by all the means she could find.

She had a remarkable human strength and a particular gift for communication, and for encouraging others—especially those who were broken, damaged, lonely, or in great need. She also knew that she belonged to Jesus, and that all the value of her strength and talent came from Him. Christina was a very down-to-earth person too; she was a girl and a young woman who was just normal and relatable to her peers, who didn’t put on airs, who—apart from her amazing musical talent—seemed like an “ordinary person.” And yet she was different. She was very much an "earthen vessel" that nevertheless carried the treasure of Christ's love in a manner that communicated something of that love's heroic stature.

Christina knew that His love could sustain the human heart, and thereby foster healing and bring consolation and strength to those who struggled to discover their own self-worth. In April of 2014 she made a very short, spontaneous video that took its point of departure from eating disorders and self-harm issues but opened up from there. Anyone could articulate these kinds of statements on a video, of course, but what she expresses here has a palpable authenticity because it comes from within the context of her whole life as a daily risk, a radical availability to the people she met, a passion for Christ and her music and the people to whom she gave the gift of her music.

In this meme I designed from the video, the first panel summarizes a slightly longer discourse, but the other two panels are her exact words that she felt were so urgent, so significant for affirming the value of all the people who were touched by her music, and indeed of every human person who might watch it. I think the video is still accessible on YouTube. In any case, here is my graphic summary. I'm very struck by what she says.

never tried to sell her faith. When she did mention Jesus, it was to affirm a conviction that couldn't be expressed without an explicit reference to Him. Her own love, in its source and its urgency, its value and its significance as a gift to others, was inseparable from His love.

It requires a certain kind of audacity to tell people to love themselves and recognize the beauty in themselves 'because Jesus loves you... and I love you.'

It requires a certain kind of audacity to express and give ourselves in a way that says to our family, to our neighbors, to everyone we meet, that it is worth it to keep living 'because I love you.' This is the kind of love that is not afraid to open its arms to anyone, that is not afraid to open its arms because it always has confidence in the One whom it seeks to embrace. Such confidence engenders a real courage, a real audacity that is more powerful than all the harm that human beings can inflict upon others and themselves, more powerful than the violence that tries so terribly to negate it, but that cannot prevail in the end.

The world needs this kind of audacity. The world needs this kind of love.

Thank you, Christina, for your courage, for your legacy that is helping us to grow stronger. Happy Birthday!💚🎶