I remember hearing my first Amy Grant song, “Father’s Eyes”, when I was around nine years old. I loved her voice, but when I saw my first picture of her. Well, I fell in love, or whatever emotion a boy has for a girl (True, she was a few years older than I at the time, but that’s irrelevant.) Anyway, I was hooked, but as I was still so young and girls were supposed to be “yucky”, I pretended not to be interested.
I didn’t become a stalker or anything bizarre like that – in fact, I didn’t think much about her unless I heard her voice on the radio or unless my mom played her cassette of Ms. Grant’s. I idealized this young lady who was beautiful, talented and a dedicated Christian. She was what I wanted for my future. I loved to sing and loved my God. Perhaps someday I could marry someone as special as her – maybe even her!
As I got older, those thoughts still percolated in my mind – not that I actually would ever have a chance to even meet Miss Grant, but that I might win the love of a similarly spectacular goddess.
And then our youth group planned to go to a special concert – Amy Grant was coming to town, and I would have the opportunity to see her in person! I was so excited; though I played it off pretty well at the time – at least I thought I did. To this day I think my mom knew I had a secret crush on Amy, but she never once made fun of me or mentioned it.
So, I went to the outdoor concert expectant and hoping that maybe somehow God would arrange to allow me the chance to meet the lovely Christian woman I so hoped to know. I must have been about fourteen or fifteen at the time. My hormones were going crazy I’m sure, and my emotions were all over the place. Life was a roller-coaster ride from day to day. I could not wait at least to see her on stage.
She never showed.
It turned out she got sick and couldn’t perform, so her friends – a guy named Michael Smith and another named Russ Taff – showed up and performed instead. I was absolutely crushed. Do not worry fair reader, this incident is not where my heart was broken.
Several years later after I had mostly gotten over my Amy-philia, she released an album called House of Love which I bought and thoroughly enjoyed. It was full of love songs, and it made me so happy. It seemed to tell the story of how love should be and how it could be in a Christian life with determination and love being wed together in a life of a couple committed to live together in the Lord. Her duet with Vince Gill, “House of Love”, ignited my imagination and made me long for a wife while the other songs on the album all complemented and dealt with the issues of loving relationships.
This album cemented the idol I had made of Amy. Though she had married another singer, Gary Chapman, (which I still hadn’t quite gotten over) and had children with him, I accepted their relationship as a beautiful testimony and example for all men and women. I wanted her – well, someone like her – to be mine too! She was like Mary, Jesus’ mother, a holy, unblemished woman that stood for Christian wholeness and beauty. She was the nadir of Christian living. Two thousand years of the Christian world had brought us to the point where we had this enthralling woman of virtue whom the whole world could respect for her morality and talents as the preeminent voice of Christian entertainment. (Now, of course I’m being somewhat hyperbolic, but I’m speaking for what I now see I had done in my mind to Ms. Grant.)
I had made of her an idol of amazing proportions.
Then “it” happened.
You probably know the story.
My Christian queen filed for divorce from her husband and married her duet partner from the “House of Love”.
Again, I was crushed, but in so many more ways than when I was a teenager. This woman whom I had come not only to respect, but to adore quietly and ardently had just ridiculed my own convictions on the sanctity of marriage, while at the same time completely destroying my pubescent paradigm of her presumed righteousness. My “Christian” Aphrodite had become mortal, and worse, she had become (in my myopic vision) an adulteress – the opposite of the woman I had created her to be in my tiny little mind.
I got rid of all my Amy Grant tapes. I couldn’t listen to her without feeling conflicted and even rejected. Her divorce destroyed my image of female perfection in my mind. I had to quickly shove her music and appearance out of my life so I could make room for a new ideal of female virtue. Every time I heard her or saw her (on TV, etc.), I became angry and heavyhearted. In fact, I didn’t understand the Truth of what was happening. I thought I was mad at her because of her unfaithfulness and selfishness.
I am ashamed to say that it was not until very recently (several years later) that I finally had my epiphany regarding what Amy really did to me. In fact, I am still figuring it out as I write this note. I think I’ll probably still be learning what all it means for a long time yet to come.
Here it is, though. (And if I’m anywhere near a decent writer, I hope you’ve figured out where I’m going.)
About a year ago I read an article from a Christian writer who used to report for a popular Christian music magazine who publicly asked Ms. Grant to forgive him for some things that were written about her at the time of her divorce. The article got me thinking about how I had never “forgiven” her, and I realized I needed to work on it. So, I forgave her and moved on.
I went to the library yesterday and ran across a couple of her albums, House of Love and Heart in Motion. I really loved both albums at one point, and I’ve wanted to share her song, “Baby, Baby” with my own children, because I use it often when referring to them (my babies).
As I listen to her music today, I find some of that old pain coming back – that “betrayal” and sorrow. As I’ve been wondering why, I’ve come to understand some shocking things about myself.
Amy Grant never really broke my heart.
I broke my own heart. It was not Amy that made herself into a goddess. She never asked me to place her on a pedestal of Christian virtue. She never claimed to be the example for any Christian to follow. She sung of her failures and difficulties while extolling the wonders of our Almighty God. She was real and human. I was the one who did not understand. I caused the trouble in my own soul because I made her into something she was not and was never would have wanted to be.
The anger and bitterness towards Ms. Grant had little to do with her or her divorce. It has everything to do with my misplaced values. I defined concepts of Christianity through a fanciful imagination of what one person seemed to be – not the reality of the Triune God.
When we look to humans to be our gods, we find only trouble for ourselves. I never intended, and up until now, I never would have thought that I had put her in such an exalted position in my life, but I had, and I did.
Amy is still the same person she has always been – or at least I assume she hasn’t changed much, not many people do. I’ve never met her, and I doubt I ever will. She’s on the same journey as I. Just like me, she’s a flawed and frail person with mistakes and sorrows of her own.
Sometimes we put people in places they have no right to be. Only the True God can be the paragon of virtue and righteousness. Only God shines for us as that perfect example of love and morality. We must keep our eyes firmly fixed on our heavenly Father and seek Him at all times, or we will get lost in self-indulgence, selfishness and foolish thinking.
Amy, I will always love you for sharing your wonderful talents with the world, and ultimately with me through the gift of your recorded music. Though you’ll never know me, I hope forgiveness will find its way from you to me for being so critical and stupid. You never deserved my condemnation or judgment. You simply needed my prayers. I’m sorry. May God bless you and your family, and may His healing and grace abound in your lives.