By Scott Harrup
Tammy Trent. The name came about simply enough. Tammy had
loved Trent since their youth group days at First Assembly of God in Grand
Rapids, Mich. They married in 1990, she became a nationally recognized
Christian singer in the ensuing years, and it just made sense their
relationship should be honored at every concert and on every album.
Jamaica’s Blue Lagoon is also aptly named. Its deep, rich
color shifts with the angle of the sun. About seven miles east of Port Antonio,
the lagoon was once a favorite tourist spot with a restaurant offering open-air
dining over the water. Hurricane Ivan changed all that in 2004.
But the restaurant was still there in September 2001. Trent
and Tammy had come to Jamaica for a week of rest before beginning a week of
ministry. The final day of their vacation found them at the lagoon.
Trent, a veteran diver since his teens, had been free diving
for a year. Ditch the air tanks, hold your breath, and then explore the depths
for two or three minutes before surfacing to catch that next breath. At nearly
200 feet deep and crystal clear, the Blue Lagoon was a free diver’s dream.
“Trent was always very careful,” Tammy says. “He had
practiced holding his breath in the bathtub until he could stay under for
nearly five minutes.”
After enjoying their meal together at the restaurant, Trent
dove into the lagoon. He promised to be back in 15 minutes. Swimming out to the
deepest stretch of water, he turned to wave at Tammy on the shore.
She smiled and waved back, never dreaming it was the last
time she would see him alive.
Seven years and counting after that day, Tammy can still
walk into her garage, see the immaculate shelving Trent built and feel the
tears fighting for supremacy.
“I still feel the pain, the moments I can’t breathe,” she
admits. “I hate the new normal.”
Her first day in the “new normal” found her scrambling among
nearby tourists begging for a mask and snorkel to swim out to where she last
saw Trent. A boat owner kindly rode her to the spot and circled as they stared
over the side. There was no sign of Trent. There would be no sign all that
afternoon as Tammy waited and prayed in a back room of the restaurant while a
dive team explored the depths until nearly sunset.
Tammy awoke Sept. 11, 2001, to the news reports of the World
Trade Center attacks.
“I was staying at a doctor’s home,” she remembers, “and he
told me I needed to see what was happening on the TV.”
She saw the second plane hit the towers. Minutes later the
phone rang. Relatives in the United States were trying to fly to Jamaica to be
with her but were now grounded. She would be alone.
The phone rang again. The dive team had found Trent’s body.
In 2009 Tammy Trent continues to take the stage at concerts
and women’s conferences across the country. Recent ministry trips have included
Singapore and Australia.
“God has given me a great life, a great adventure,” she
says. “In Trent, He gave me a great love. I experienced that love so richly.
I’m sad that it’s not in my life today, but I’m getting up today with great
expectation. What’s next, God? I would rather be a woman who embraces adventure
and let the world see that I’m a real woman letting a real God put me back
together again. I’m not pretending that it all makes sense and that all the
pain is gone.”
What does make sense is her assurance of God’s peace in the
midst of life’s questions.
“God’s peace has the power to destroy confusion and painful
questions and chaos,” she insists. “When we pray for God’s peace, we can trust
Him to break down those things that would destroy us.”
She injects into her songwriting that sense of God’s peace
as well as her greater awareness of life’s pain.
“When I got my first record deal I was singing bubbly, alive
songs,” she says. “I look back now and think probably half the people in my
audience were sure I couldn’t possibly relate to the real-life issues they were
going through. Now, I can see it on their faces, and they can see it on mine.
It’s a new season, a deeper anointing. The lyrics are different when I’m singing;
the message is more powerful. I’m definitely a woman living the songs I sing,
and I’m trying to speak that into the lives of people.”
When Tammy found her way home in 2001 and first opened her
e-mail, she was stunned to see thousands of messages from complete strangers
assuring her of their continued prayers. Now, almost daily, she finds e-mails
from complete strangers whose pain is somehow lessened by her songs.
Like the couple she learned of recently. The young man
drowning off the coast of Spain during a dive. The young woman struggling to
breathe in the midst of her grief.
“Sometimes I sit there and look at the screen and just cry,”
she says. “I wish I had the right words for someone in that moment. I wish I
could change everything. I know what’s ahead for them.”
But she often finds words to be inadequate.
“All I can do is let them know I care and my heart breaks
for them and that I will pray for them that God will cover them with His
peace,” she says.
In audiences week after week Tammy Trent looks into countless
faces struggling to mask life’s spectrum of pain. She lets her own pain create
a bond of understanding, a shared sense of often-hidden divine purposes in the
midst of bleak circumstances.
“Our trials in life create an incredible faith journey for
all of us,” she says. “It’s really what we do with those trials. We all have a
story. I’m still sharing my story of life and hope and love. As long as the
phone keeps ringing, I’ll keep showing up. There’s power in the story.
“It’s not so much a story of tragedy as of hope. We all need
hope. We all need heroes. We all need inspiration in our lives that helps each
of us get through difficult times. It might not be well with our circumstances,
but it can be well with our souls.”
SCOTT HARRUP is senior associate editor of Today’s
Pentecostal Evangel and blogs at Out There (sharrup.agblogger.org).
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