When I was growing up, I loved Amy Grant.
When I got older and learned that you don't have to wear Jesus t-shirts all the time, and listen to Christian music all the time, and eat Icthus-Goldfish all the time (certainly there's a marketing phenomenon in there somewhere) to be a real Christian, I sort of ditched her. And Michael W. Smith (But only after starting the wave at the concert where Jars of Clay opened for him. Oh yes I did). I'd have ditched Petra too, but I was never all that into them to begin with. Sorry, Petra.
I never really had a problem with Amy, although I was confused throughout the 90's as to whether I was supposed to embrace or disown her for going mainstream and writing "Baby Baby" ostensibly about her new baby, and then making the video with a good lookin' model instead of a baby. Really the problem was my being so wrapped up in my own church-kid-ness that I didn't know what I really thought about much of anything. So rather than make a decision one way or the other, I decided to distance myself altogether and let Amy be Amy while I explored the wide world of music (and freedom in Christ).
Since then I've poked fun at myself for my Amy-love. I've made gagging gestures when listening to "Grown Up Christmas Wish." I've poked fun at Amy when I really should've been poking fun at the Christian music industry for not letting artists be real people, lest they set a bad example or make some weak listener stumble.
But then she went and said something really, really smart that resonated with me. In a moment of weakness, I bought a magazine from the check-out rack that had an article with her in it. I wish I could remember the name of the dang magazine. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I wish I'd saved the article so I could get an exact quote.
She was talking about how all through the years of being presented as more or less having it all together (as most Christian musicians are portrayed) she has had real and serious struggles which very few people knew about. Through her process she learned that, even though all of us make snap judgements, you can never really know all that is going on behind what you hear or read about a person, and that she has gained a great deal of compassion for others who are going through highly-publicized struggles (and those not so highly publicized).
Of not knowing all the facts and back-stories and hurts and whatnot, she said, "It's a good reason to be gentle."
Of course then I had to go to her website and see more--which I'm sure is exactly what the article intended me to do--and found a real person amid all the marketing hype (ie: Friends of Amy, who never did send me an autographed picture back in 1988. Thanks for nothing, FOA!). And dangit if I can't make fun of Amy anymore, 'cuz as a person she seemed perfectly lovely. Human, not perfect, but fairly normal and nice.
It didn't reignite my passion for Amy Grant songs or anything, but that little quote has stuck with me. It is good to remember that there are very few situations where we have the whole story and can truly speak with authority outside of our personal experiences. Before I go railing on someone I disagree with, it's good to at least consider the possibility that there are external factors contributing to their viewpoint, as opposed to my blanket assumption that those who think differently than I do are all a bunch of morons. Maybe they are, but maybe not.
I'm just saying...