He said: "The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn [a] of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior — from violent men you save me. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.
-- 2 Samuel 22:2-4
She had many top hit songs, a popularity that spanned around the globe, and wealth in the millions, yet she died at an early age of 32 as a result of Anorexia Nervosa or simply, starvation. Her unique, clear, distinct, and delicate voice had an angelic allure to the ear, yet her own spirit was broken, enslaved by her deadly vice. But even though the curtain of her life fell on a tragic note, I still remember Karen Carpenter for her beautiful songs most specially my favorite, “Love Me for What I Am.”
Karen Carpenter, along with her brother Richard, were certified superstars, and millionaires even when they were still in their early 20’s. But in spite of all of these, Karen was not happy; she was depressed, and suffering inside. Why? Think of that night when you played extremely well in basketball court or badminton court such that your friends and colleagues were still talking and bragging about you the next day. The more praises you received, the more pressure you felt building inside of you to come out the next night with an even better performance. In the case of Karen Carpenter, the pressure was not just to sing the next big hit song, but also to continually look slim on the stage, and in the camera. Her obsession, to always look great before the eyes of the world, started a deadly cycle of extreme dieting and skipping meals until her heart could take no more. At a young age of 32, the girl with an angelic voice died of heart attack. And the world was shocked!
My early childhood memories, as I tried to recall it, were in black and white, and most often, Charlie Chaplin-like (no voice), but the unforgettable tunes of the ABBA, the Beatles and of course, the Carpenters lingered on, long after I shelved my last toys in a long forgotten box. They gave me (and the world) their songs, a gift which served as an emotional thread that connected me to my wonderful but long forgotten past. So it broke my heart to see how the life of Karen Carpenter unfolded. I wish I could rewrite her life, but I can’t. Not one of us can.
The truth is, we don't live for wealth, prestige, power, and material possessions alone, we live to love God, and to care for others as much as ourselves. Once your life's priorities and direction skew from your Master Craftsman's design intent, and you start to live your life for your own satisfaction only, then one day you'll find out how lonely, empty, meaningless, and cruel your world has become. You'll have a yearning for something that your money can never buy nor the world can satisfy, and the worse part is, like Karen, you might never find out.
Karen gave us the gift with her beautiful songs. But unknowingly, she also gave us an important testimony, tragic as it was, that we are vulnerable no matter how rich, popular and influential we may become, if God is not in the picture of our life. For no matter who we are, we all need a rock to lean on, a fortress to protect us, and a deliverer to save us.
PS: Jesus Christ is our rock, fortress, and deliverer. No matter how broken you are right now, He loves you. Come to Him. He is waiting for you, with open arms, all this time, to heal your brokeness, to fill your emptiness, to give rest to your weariness, to protect you from your enemies, to give you light in the darkness of your days….