As we reported in Culture Clips on Wednesday, singer and actress Demi Lovato was hospitalized after reportedly overdosing this week. It’s another deeply sad moment in the career of a young woman—Lovato is just 25—who has been in similarly desperate places before.
Lovato has long been open about her struggles, serving as a role model for overcoming addiction and telling the truth about her weaknesses. It seemed as if she’d turned a significant corner in her life, having just celebrated six years of sobriety. And she has been an inspiration to others who’ve struggled similarly, many of whom have shared their stories on the Twitter page #HowDemiHelpedMe.
But what are they—and we—to make of her latest relapse? A couple of thoughts.
At the most basic level, Lovato’s latest fall offers a stark reminder that continued sobriety for drug and/or alcohol addicts is an ongoing battle. It’s not guaranteed, even for someone who’s been as honest and outspoken as Demi Lovato has been.
I also can’t help but wonder how much more someone in the celebrity spotlight feels the intense pressure to be perfect, to measure up to everyone’s expectations. Sure, Lovato has talked about those issues before. But just acknowledging them doesn’t make them go away. The cultural expectation to be thin, beautiful, successful and winsome never subsides for young entertainers like Lovato. It’s not hard for me to see how a relapse could happen for someone like her.
I haven’t been young, thin and beautiful for a long time. (OK, never, actually.) So I can’t relate to those pressure points personally. Nor do I struggle with substance abuse. But I do grapple with my own smaller, more mundane moments where I feel that I’ve failed, that I’ve blown it, that I’m never going to overcome the rather boring personal weaknesses that plague my life.
What’s needed in those moments—whether we’re celebrities or anonymous, whether we’re talking about life-gripping addictions or smaller character flaws—is grace. The kind of grace that God offers us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Grace brings with it forgiveness, the possibility of redemption, of another try. Grace means that our failings—big or small—don’t have to be the final word in our lives. Grace unlatches the valve on the pressure cooker of constantly striving to live up to others’ expectations of ourselves (or even our own!).
In a word, grace offers hope. Hope for a better tomorrow, a second chance (or a two-hundred-and-second chance).
I feel for Demi Lovato. How devastated she and those close to her must feel that she’s fallen down after years of standing strong. I hope that Demi can experience grace—God’s grace, the kind that gradually changes us from the inside out, the kind that invites us to have the courage to keep trying.
And I hope that you and I can experience that same grace, too, even if our smaller stumblings and shortcomings never make the news like Demi Lovato’s have.