People all over this world are crippled by the feeling of not being made perfectly. Could it be that our Creator sees us exponentially more beautiful and valuable than we see ourselves?
Dear Downers Church Family:
It was Friday, February 4, 1983. Karen had just woken up. She collapses in her bedroom at her parents’ house in Downey, CA. She was rushed by the paramedics to the Downey Community Hospital, which claimed that her heart was only beating once every 10 seconds. Karen Anne Carpenter was pronounced dead at 9:51 a.m.
Do you know the story? I grew up listening to The Carpenters records when I was a kid. My mom loved The Beatles, Neil Diamond, John Denver and The Carpenters. She liked more but those were her favorites. I recognized their songs yet never knew Karen’s story until the movie The Karen Carpenter Storyaired on CBS in 1989.
Karen was born in Connecticut but moved to California with her family as an early teenager. Her singing career started with an all-girl trio that broke up soon when her brother Richard was suggested to join the group. This was the start of The Carpenters. In 1969, the brother-sister duo released an album named Ticket to Ride with mixed reviews. But in 1970, their lives would be forever changed with the release of an album called Close to You. The lead song "Close to You" hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. That same year, another top song of theirs, “We’ve Only Just Begun,” made it to #2 on the list. It was a whirlwind of a year filled with excitement and stress.
In 1970, Karen was a healthy, yet thin girl at 5’4” and 120 lbs. She was known to diet but this is when dieting was ramped up. According to the movie, she read a Billboard article that called her “chubby,” which never actually was published, but she did see a photo of herself on tour that she felt made her look overweight. She started a “water diet,” then a high carb/low calorie diet. Family believed that she was using laxatives to lose weight. It was even rumored that the coroner stated that Karen was repeatedly using ipecac syrup for vomiting. It was obvious that something was wrong when she dropped down to a frail 91 lbs. Yet it is believed that she never was quite happy enough with the way she looked. The cycles of dieting, along with the use of laxatives and other weight-loss products, lasted until that fatal day in 1983. She was pronounced dead by heart failure related to emetine cardiotoxicity due to, or as a consequence of, anorexia nervosa.
When I watched the movie in 1989, her story broke my heart. It still does today. A young woman of 32, gifted with the voice of an angel, yet still was not happy with the way she was created. Is it possible that this disease - not anorexia nervosa - but the feeling of not being created perfectly, still cripples people all over this world? Could it be that our Creator sees us exponentially more beautiful and valuable than we see ourselves?