Bobbi Kristina and Whitney: what might have been

Bobbi Kristina Brown’s death was expected, but it is always shocking to hear about a 22-year-old dying. Her mom, Whitney Houston, was only 48 when she passed away. Both mother and daughter died in a bathtub, their bodies filled with illegal drugs. Some choices have permanent and devastating consequences. Each could have led very different lives and each should have led much longer lives. What choices led to their first mistakes? What choices could have changed everything and what choices did change everything? What might have been different if Whitney and Bobbi Kristina had chosen God’s plan for their lives?

Zig Ziglar was a popular Christian motivational speaker and often focused his message on the importance of making right choices. He said, “Choice-not chance-determines human destiny.” Whitney Houston, interviewed by Diane Sawyer, was remembering her early years singing in church. Whitney said, “I think I knew then that [my singing ability] was an infectious thing that God had given me.”

What if Whitney had decided that God’s gifting in her life was to be used for his glory and for the sake of sharing God’s love with the world? Instead, when she was fifteen she was given a chance to model. When she was nineteen she was discovered by Clive Davis and her career escalated her to stardom. What if Whitney had chosen to use her fame to share God’s love with the people who enjoyed her voice?

Whitney Houston married Bobby Brown in 1992 after a three-year engagement. Their daughter, Bobbi Kristina, was born the next year. News reports of drugs, alcohol, physical and emotional abuse followed shortly after. Her mom tried repeatedly to get her help but Whitney refused that help for a long time. Whitney divorced Bobby Brown in 2007 and spent some time in several rehabs, but her death in 2012 was the result of one more relapse. What if Whitney Houston had chosen a different husband, or chosen to say no to the drugs she was offered?

Bobbi Kristina’s death is still under investigation at this time, but it appears she followed a path similar to her mom’s. What if Whitney had known that her choices would influence her daughter and lead to her death at such a young age? Would that knowledge have given her the strength to make wiser choices for her own life?

Zig Ziglar said, “Every choice you make has an end result.” As Christians we know that prayer can help guide our choices, but we also know that no one can live life perfectly, always making right decisions. Both Whitney Houston and her daughter, Bobbi Kristina, didn’t make one choice that ruined their lives – they both made several. Both were prayed for, prayed with and God wanted to answer those prayers. But we are created in the image of God, so we are created with the ability to choose. No amount of prayer can remove a person’s ability to refuse God’s guidance. We cannot pray away a person’s ability to choose.

What might have been if both women had sought God’s redemption for the wrong choices they had made and had allowed the Lord to restore and bless their lives? Now, their family and their fans will live with more questions than answers. What they might have been will never be redeemed to what they could have become.

What choices are in front of you today, and in front of those you love? What can we learn from two sad lives that were ended by bad choices? Whitney Houston had a huge audience. It would have been amazing if she had used her influence for the glory of God.

You and I have that choice today. Our witness is made more powerful by the fact that we could, at any time, choose not to care. We have the opportunity to share God’s love with people and we can’t know whether the impact of our witness will be great or small. But Jesus didn’t command us to be his witnesses whenever it seems worth it.

Edith Schaeffer was married to theologian, Francis Schaeffer. She had this to say about our ability to choose:

“What are your choices? Whom are your choices for? Not just for yourself. Choose now whom you will serve, and that choice is going to affect the next generation, and the next generation, and the next. Choice never affects just one person alone. It goes on and on and the effect goes out into geography and history. You are part of history and your choices become part of history.”

How will our choices influence others and impact our culture today? It will be a privilege to find out.

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