Masquerade

I don’t usually get involved in celebrity “who did this/that/or the other” stuff. Quite frankly I just don’t have the time, energy, or cable TV. But I feel compelled to address a current popular topic that’s swirling through the entertainment industry: Miley Cyrus and her VMA performance. All I have seen are brief clips and images from her eyebrow-raising routine and that’s all I need to see.

I’ll admit, I was tempted to tell John to watch it so we could make fun of her together — what a MESS, right? I mean, really.

But then I heard a quiet, familiar voice tell me, “I love her.”

It’s the same voice that said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)

And I was immediately ashamed. Humbled again by the grace that just won’t quit.

Here I am, dreaming of one day serving women and teaching God’s Word and I’m standing with the crowds, giddy to throw my stone into the face of this lost and broken young woman.

She deserves it! Ugh! Nobody should have had to watch that trash! What a disaster!

The Pharisees thought so too.

I don’t approve of what Miley did or how she behaved — but I have no right to point a self-righteous finger in her face and accuse her of being gross.

You guys wanna know what’s gross? Deception. Lies. Satan. Greed. Selfishness. Jealousy. Bitterness. Discontentment. Lust. Hopelessness. All of those things were at play Sunday night as Miley performed on stage.

Sure, what we saw was a display of overwhelming self-confidence and rebellion. Amidst all of the flashing lights and long legs we all got the message, “F*** the world! I do what I want!”

But what happens when the paparazzi goes home, the janitor shuts off the lights, closes the door and the stage is left empty? There are no cameras recording. No faces reacting. It’s just quiet.

What if you could talk one-on-one with Miley then? Sit down next to her on that empty stage, look out on those empty chairs and listen to her. You might get the same self-made, “I’m a bad-a** who does whatever the h*** I want.” attitude, but it would probably sound a little small, maybe even uncertain.

Words spoken from behind a mask always sound a little cracked and plastic. And we’ve all spoken them.

In the moments where we appear the most brazen, we’re usually just scared out of our minds.

Somewhere along the way, bit by bit, Miley began to construct this mask. Hannah Montana was too prudish, too quaint. If Miley wanted to make a name for herself she was going to let go of everything that was safe and throw herself into the arms of the world with reckless abandon.

Miley trusted the world to get her what she thought she wanted — fame, power, “a name”. So the world told the beautiful, talented young girl from Nashville the same thing it has told thousands of other young women — take off her clothes, lick her lips, and be unforgettable.

Ahhh, you see Miley? People will remember you now. Even if some people hate you, they’ll remember you. Keep surprising them, Miley. Keep stripping and smacking and singing and sexing and you will get it. That feeling. You’ll have power over people, Miley. Isn’t that what you wanted? A reputation? Take it and GRAB it Miley! Oops! Looks like you’re gonna have to go one more step further to get it… oops… one more Miley… just one more step…

She isn’t the first to be praised, worshiped, idolized, mutilated, and spat out by this world. One day a goddess, the next day a bad joke. One day a role model, the next day “an example.”

I have no idea what it’s like to be famous, but I am an expert at being insecure. Every time I place my self-worth into the hands of the crowd I just say what people want to hear and do what they want me to do. Even if a part of me disagrees or protests, I stuff it down to elicit their applause. I perform for them, in a way. When people don’t like me or make fun of me I just shrug it off as no big thing, and am left with an aching, searching heart as I close my eyes each night. In those moments, I don’t really like myself. Maybe you can relate? Maybe Miley can too.

I also know that taking off a mask is always painful. It peels away every false sense of security we’ve mustered up. Every facade created from pride, anxiety, and self-determination begins to crumble, all the lies begin to contradict and decompose. If Miley is anything like me, she’ll probably frantically scramble to put it all back together again — desperate to be known but terrified to be exposed.

So instead of name-calling and finger-pointing, I’m gonna pray. That Miley’s agenda of rebellion is rudely interrupted by the God she sang for only a few years earlier. That He would be ruthless in His pursuit of her, relentless in removing all the layers of insecurity, addiction, and feigned indifference. While I know that it’s painful, that she’ll fight it and hate it — I know that God is able. He is in the business of welcoming prodigal sons home, redeeming the depraved heart, and rescuing lost sheep from their own folly. I know firsthand about Amazing Grace and I’m going to pray that Miley finds it and sings about it again.

Miley — you won’t read this blog post. But if you do, I want you to know you can stop fighting the world. You won’t win on your own, but He’s already done that for you. You can find hope again. You might lose everything, but that’s when you actually gain everything.

Lastly: I’m sorry I mocked you, Miley. I’m sorry for the hurtful thoughts about you that flashed through my mind that did nothing but stroke my own holier-than-thou ego. I’m sorry for how quickly and casually I labeled you and threw you out as a hopeless cause. The God we know doesn’t believe in hopeless causes… and He sent his Son to prove it. Please forgive my arrogance and my self-righteousness.

Praying for you, girl.

miley-cyrus

Photo credit: thewatershed.com/blog

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.

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