Saturday, September 27, 2008

I Pray for Miley

Today on my run, I confess that I listened to Miley Cyrus on my wife’s ipod. Already my friend Jesse would be mocking me, that is, if he ever read my blog. Through my daughter, Miley, or Hannah Montana, has invaded our home, via Disney TV, cd’s played in our car, and merchandise like cups, nightlights, and toothbrushes. Miley is a big deal around here. So I thought I’d write Miley a quick note. You are welcome to read it, too.

Dear Miley,
I pray for you. I invite others to pray for you as well. I bet that might come across sounding hard, or meanspirited, but that’s not my heart. It is offered with compassion and grace. Here’s what I mean:

Miley, you have achieved the kind of stardom and wealth that very, very few people ever achieve. I’m talking Solomon-like wealth. Flipping through an issue of Time, I read that last year, your merchandise net alone brought in 1.3 billion dollars. Bring in the way Disney has packaged your TV personality into a product. Add in the CD sales and your 3-D concert movie. Remember that you can sell out a stadium concert faster than anyone ever has. There’s a lot of gravy flowing, and Billy Ray’s little girl is riding it at breakneck speed. Since wealth is power, I pray that you’ll steward yours well.

As far as I know, Miley, you are like 16 years old. I can remember how chaotic and circus-like my life was at 16. There was friend drama, the weeks that circled around our Friday night football games, the invites to parties, the time I crashed my car, and of course the pinnacles and heartbreaks swirling around the quest for a girlfriend. And if life was crazy for me at 16, I can’t imagine how crazy it would be for a person who is an uber-gazillionaire. In America, celebrity is royalty, and Miley, you are the current reigning princess. That has to mess with your head. So I pray that it doesn’t.

Not only that, but I remember making some pretty dumb moves as a 16 year old. And the thought of having every bonehead move photographed and splashed on the front page of a gossip rag is just shameful. I mean that literally…it produces shame. To know that everything you do, every boy you go out with, every fight you have with your dad will be news…I imagine that produces an overwhelming amount of pressure. So I pray for you.

I ran to the punk-pop-beat of your songs today, and I was admiring them. The come across like 80’s tunes (I cut my chops on the 80’s) filled with energy, and a bubble-gum-smack voice that cracks at just the right time, like Cosette from my Les Mis Broadway Soundtrack (I am hoping this is a compliment to you both). But here is why I truly like them…the Lyrics. Wholesome, filled with themes of love, of falling in love, and of empowerment. You sing a song to your deceased grandfather called I Miss You, and it’s touching. You have a song with a chorus that says, “Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not strong enough.” And when I see my daughter belting those words out with all that she’s got, I get this crazy lump in my throat. There are so many negative and hurtful messages in the songs of our culture, and I celebrate the ones that are joyful or quality. And so I pray for yours.

In fact, the biggest reason that I pray for you, Miley is my daughter, Alex. My daughter is 8 years old. She wears glasses and plays soccer. She has the most beautiful, innocent, compassionate soul that I’ve ever seen. She befriends everyone, especially the kids that don’t have a ton of other friends. Once her teacher brought in a new student, mid-year, who didn’t speak much English. Alex moved her seat to sit next to her, and stayed with her all day showing her around school, and introduced her to all her friends. The only reason I know this is because her teacher emailed the story to us, and both my wife and I teared up when we read it. I’m tearing up right now as I try to figure out how to communicate the absolute golden nature of this beautiful child of God who has Jesus in her heart and Hannah Montana on her wall. For one reason or another, Alex has made room for you in her heart. Miley, what you say matters to Alex. How you live matters. The lyrics in your songs matter, and the choices that you make…I just want you to know, they matter.

They don’t matter to the paparazzi who want to exploit you for a buck. They don’t matter to your PR folks who can figure out how to spin your life in an interesting way and sell the story to VH1. They don’t matter to handlers and managers, because the wild exploits of celebrities are what keep them in business. But they matter to little girls who have never had a hero before, and who have decided that you’re it. Life is going to try to knock those stars out of her eyes soon enough, and so I’m hoping…I’m begging…I am praying for you. I’m praying that you would please handle her heart with care.

And as I pray for you, I’d love to remind you that at the end of the day, this voice, this honor, this wealth, this ride, and this life that you’ve been given…you’ve been given it all by God. He loves you just because you’re you, I know you know that. And the greatest thing you can do, is to offer it all back to Him as a gift.

I’m praying for you.


Just a Dad


Jesse Butterworth said...

Ok, first off, I do read your blog.
And secondly, I am DEFINITETLY making fun of you for this!
Did you want to get together and a have an intercessory prayer night for the New Kids on the Block, too?
Hangin' tough,

Mike Howerton said...

I love you Jesse! Excited that you're literate!
And bro, SOMEBODY must have been praying for NK for them to get that reunion tour. Maybe we should start praying for Daily Planet?

Ken Loewen said...

Okay, here's a future dad (I hope!) weighing in. My Zune segues from Illuminate Live to Broadway to Country but SURE doesn't have NKOB (though they're all over the place at work) or Miley. I think your message is right-on for all of the heroes in our kids' lives and ours. Teachers, cops, their parents' friends...
Prayin' in Paris,

Eve said...

I found your blog through Lisa's and this post is amazing! What a great way to look at this and as a mom of a daughter I can't agree with you more.

I need to come and hear you speak at your church someday. I haven't gone to church in a while, I quit going because I got so tired of all the hypocrisy I experienced in the past (at a different church). Just being honest here.

After you have been away from something for a while it can be a little intimidating to go back.

Lindsey said...

Hey Pastor Mike! I've been reading your blog since the beginning, but now that it's public knowledge I can stop "stalking" and start commenting! LOL!

Anyway, I wanted to say that I have the Les Mis soundtrack on my iPhone and was just listening to it this weekend! It gives me such a rush and brings tears to my eyes sometimes! Also, I wanted to say that I love this letter to Miley! I hope that you do send it to her. As a mom of 5 boys (yes, I'm the one from the baby dedication last night) I find the same sort of concerns and I worry about Miley and the Jonas Brothers. I pray for them too. I pray that their next newest hit won't be something that I have to keep my innocent 7 year old from listening to. I pray that they can keep their morals and integrity in a demoralized society.

It's comforting to know that my pastor is praying with me!

Amanda Marie said...

Well said Mike, well said. I'm absolutely entranced by your writing skills. They're unique and unlike my own in any form. Just like Jodie's. It's cool to be challenged.

PS. It's Amanda Porter who's writing this!

Great sermon on Sunday!

Nancy H said...

Michael--beautifully written--you are so gifted. I too pray for many celebrities--the power they have is really scary sometimes. Figure out a way to send it to Miley--how nice to know people are praying for you.

Amber Streitler said...
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