If you are older than 40 and were not living in a cave in 1987, you probably remember Tammy Faye Bakker (who later became Tammy Faye Messner) for her fake eyelashes, tear-stained mascara, and air-conditioned doghouse. In evangelical circles, and among non-Christians, Tammy Faye has been one of the easiest targets for cheap shot jokes, especially for late night comedians. For many Christians, Tammy Faye's name has come to be associated with opulence, excess, and, in general, what many people believe to be wrong with the American Church.
I've seen Tammy Faye interviewed several times on Larry King and, I have to admit, I've grown to appreciate her more than I thought I ever would. I appreciate how Tammy Faye forgave her former husband, Jim Bakker (and stood by him while he was in prison). Even more so, I appreciate how she forgave Jerry Falwell for putting her and her family through hell. I also appreciate how Tammy Faye was able to go on with life after losing her husband, her home, her ministry, and still manage to smile through it all. Who else can you think of that has lost so much, been the subject of personal attacks by the media (and by her fellow Christians) and yet, manage not to take herself too seriously?
Through it all, Tammy Faye never stopped loving and laughing, although there were plenty of people who wanted her to stop doing just that. Although her name had become synonymous with scandal, Tammy Faye found a way to keep on living. Tammy Faye was far from perfect. But then again, so am I. I'm so glad that God uses imperfect vessels to spread His love around the earth.
Tammy Faye passed away over the weekend.
Rest in peace.