I think I first heard the song “Greatest Love of All” when I needed that love most.
It was 1992 and I was in foster care. The love, support, and stability I needed came to an abrupt end every time the Ministry placed me in a new home which sometimes meant a change of schools as well. I felt so disposable and disconnected from love.
Family, foster families, schools, and social workers were fleeting. If they didn’t love me or keep me what else mattered?
Enter Whitney Houston. Or rather, enter a recording of one of her popular songs broadcast over the loudspeakers at a mall in my hometown. The song, of course, was “Greatest Love of All” written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed.
I was hanging out with my childcare worker Brenda Copeland at Woodgrove Centre in Nanaimo when I first heard the song. She noticed me standing still, taking in every lyric which was unusual for me. “Are you a Whitney Houston fan?” she asked. “I think I am,” I replied.
I had heard many songs on the radio about romantic love as well as a few about some kind of religious love but never had I heard such an empowering, true, and accessible song about the value of self.
I never found anyone who fulfilled my needs / A lonely place to be / So I learned to depend on me
Indeed, foster parents would disappear, schools would change, and social workers would move on. The one constant in my life would be me. And if I was to ever have any hope at lasting love I would need to learn to find it in myself.
No matter what they take from me / They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all /Is happening to me
Certainly that song alone didn’t change my way of thinking overnight. But whenever I heard it on the radio or wherever it made me feel a little bit better. Sometime in the late ‘90s I bought the CD (pictured above) and whenever I feel down on myself or whatever I put it on and feel just a bit better.
And if, by chance, that special place / That you’ve been dreaming of /Leads you to a lonely place / Find your strength in love
And you know, it’s easier said than done. Finding that love within me can still be a challenge but I know that it is possible. I just need the occasional reminder.
Here’s a video I did in which I share some important thoughts on the subject: