Thursday, January 16, 2014

Miley the Baptist

The Lord works in mysterious ways... 

that is what we’ve been told. 

The King of Kings born to a carpenter and his wife in a stable; tax collectors and tyrants reformed to become some of the greatest visionaries of the church; N'SYNC, 98ยบ and Backstreet all reuniting in the same year...  Our mind cannot begin to comprehend the ways of our Creator. 

But I think I’m on to Him... if in just this one thing. 

Miley Cyrus is the new John the Baptist. 

‘What?’ you may be crying, ‘but she does not have a beard!’

Like I said, the Lord works mysteriously... the differences between them go even further than facial hair, but this does not shake my theory.  Allow me to explain. 

John, the second cousin of Jesus, was a charismatic and holy man.  So much so that many thought that he himself was Christ.  In a time of little knowledge and great longing for God, John brought a message of hope.  Repent! The time is nigh! People sought God, they found a messenger who told them to make their hearts ready.  The message had to be loud, earnest, given plainly and by someone who modeled the behavior they were meant to adopt. 

Now, you don’t think God would do things the exact same today do you?  We live in a time of too much information.  Knowledge can spread around the world in a matter of moments.  Not only do we know important information from countries around the globe, we also know how often all of our friends have worked out that week and what they had for lunch.   And in that vein, religious information is shared prodigiously.  So many people in various ways are daily giving a message of hope/doom/repent/I’m better than you because I share religious posts instead of cat videos, that we almost reflexively tune it out. 

So, the message had to be subtle, almost to the point of being undetectable and it had to come from a place where people were definitively not looking for it and where it could reach the most lost.  And are not those of us still watching the VMA’s certainly the lostest?

Behold, Miley. 

I did not see right away.  Like much of America I was watching in stunned silence as she arhythmically gyrated up and down the stage.  Strange, I thought, Awful, I groaned, is this what our country has come to, I questioned.  

And then I turned the television off and didn’t think much more on it. 

Time passed.  Her twitter following grew.  Her critics jeered and threw stones while her fans waited in rapt silence for what she was to do next.  Still I did not fully see. 

 Upon seeing the VMA’s I lamented the breakdown of another young girl in the public eye.  I presumed an awkward desperate attempt at redemption and then news of a stint at rehab.  But inexplicably to me, her popularity indeed grew.  She was nominated for awards, she was invited to perform live at the AMA’s, on morning talk shows and for the biggest party of the year in NYC.

And it was then, on New Year’s, that I understood.  There, an exalted Miley stood draped in a white fur robe fit for Solomon when the ball dropped in Times Square. It was as though she herself were ushering in the new age.

"2013 was the best year and the VMA's were the highlight," she said to the poor man's Dick Clark. 

She went upon a stage, humped a foam finger, fondled a married Beetlejuice look-alike, and placed her face in the ass of a taller than average exotic dancer and just as she predicted... she became a hero. 

Miley and dancers with teddy bears upon their backs
clearly a symbol for the crosses we all 'bear.' 
This time John the Baptist wouldn’t tell us what we need to do.  This time, John would just hold a ginormous mirror to where we are right now. 

‘Can you see?’ the robed Miley seemed to say through the television.  ‘Do you see what you adore?’  

“Holy crap.” I responded.  

"Yes, it is," she seemed to say,  "It is crap. The music, television, dancing all of it, terrible crap.  Holy in that it is designed specifically to be so bad that you are forced to question what you are doing with your life if you are spending time on it.” 

As I pondered this surprising holy purpose, forcing people to take a hard look at their lives, I came across the lyrics of her newest song. 

“Baby, can you hear me? When I’m crying out for you? 
I’m scared oh, so scared. 
But when you’re near me oh oh
I feel like I’m standing with an army 
of men armed with weapons, hey, oh.” 

For a moment I thought I was reading the book of psalms.   In the video, she is suckling her fingers whilst writhing half-naked alone in bed, I assume it is to illustrate the loneliness and mortification of living a life outside Biblical teaching.

So I want to take this moment to say thank you to the Bangerz artist.   Thank you for making me even more grateful for being a thirty-something wife and mom.  Thank you for purposefully making drugs and promiscuity and fame look so dirty that upon witnessing a performance or video, people feel a sudden need for cleansing waters.  

Thank you Miley.  I see the burden you bear for us all.  

ps. thank you also for the cat singing performance.  it was amazeballs. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

One Resolution

A few months ago I found a notebook while cleaning out a dresser drawer.  Flipping through it I found the highly motivated ramblings of a mother in her late 20s.

This year, it boldly proclaimed, would be the year of all years. Permanent changes for the good!! I will lose weight!! Eat naturally and get a flat belly! I will write more! I will remember birthdays and occasions and keep in touch with friends and family. I will get up earlier, exercise more, drink less, listen more, read a book a week, keep a stricter budget, clip coupons, organize a craft with my kids everyday and keep an up-to-date scrapbook. I will be supermodel, super mom, start a business and get my doctorate! I will finally achieve all I can be!

Ok, I might be paraphrasing... But not much.  And the sad thing is that it really didn't strike me that my resolutions were about to be exactly the same this year. Because this year, see, would be different.  I had a plan and a quippy title for my cover page in my new notebook.  In fact, here is what the first page would’ve looked like:

2014: The Year of AcCOUNTabliity
Counting words, calories and pennies to achieve ultimate personhood.

Goals: To be thinner, with a finished manuscript, and a perfectly balanced budget with no waste. 

Plan of Action: I will keep a daily journal that details our home budget, my calorie intake vs. calorie burned, and my written word count. 

Honestly, that plan would’ve lasted until maybe the 10th... hour of January 1st. 

But regardless of old journals filled with the same goals, regardless of it being doomed to fail,regardless of filling the pages a year from now with the same words and ideas, I was set to try it all again. 

At least I was until something quite extraordinary struck me.  Something that may seem depressing... that was actually incredibly freeing. Kind of like Miranda from Sex & the City learning the phrase, ‘he’s just not that into you.’ 

What struck me was this.  I will never be perfect enough for people I try desperately to please, and in continuing to strive for approval from some, I am taking for granted the love given to me freely by the people who like me just the way I am.

And trust me, I am not writing this as a plea for help or compliments or pity... I write this because I know I'm not alone and If you’re like me, if you’ve spent hours and days and years trying to get that one person or that one group to like you or accept you or look up to you... I hope you join me in my resolution for next year... My only resolution. 

It is incredibly difficult in its simplicity.  You see, it doesn't involve counting anything. It doesn't involve a reward or punishment system.  And it definitely does not involve a pudgy naked picture with a strategically placed laptop with the promise of an end of year skinny naked picture with a strategically placed manuscript... Not that I would ever think to do that.. Not sure where that came from... I think I heard that was my sister's plan... She’s weird.  Ahem.

Anyway my resolution for this year comes from a book by Gregory Boyle.  In his lifelong ministry of showing compassion to those on the outskirts of society, he finds himself in a constant state of telling people that yes they, even they, are loved and accepted by God. 

He writes, “Recognizing that we are wholly acceptable is God’s own truth for us - waiting to be discovered.”  

This year, I have one resolution.  To come closer to believing that I am wholly acceptable by God. I am ok, I am loved and I am accepted. 

I think of how I stop my children from having too much candy because I love them and don’t want them to get sick.  I think of how I enforce as strict as possible bedtime for my kids because I love them and want them to be at their best the next day.  I think of how I encourage exercise and sports and reading and studying and limit screen time and gluttony and sloth because I love them and want them to grow and challenge themselves.  And I think of how I don’t do any of those things for myself.  

Maybe if I stop trying to live up to imaginary standards I think others have for me, and see myself as someone wholly loved and accepted by God, I can learn to love and accept myself, which will result in my taking care of myself... like I do my children. 

Of course it’s all easier said than done. I will have nights when I high five my mirror and mornings where I won’t want to get out of bed.  I will disappoint myself but I might also surprise myself.  But whether forward or backward I am so excited to hold my head up high and attempt to move this year.  Because when you are trying to be what you think others want you to be you can't help but be filled with fear and doubts.

Doubt keeps your eyes down and fear can tie your hands and inside, you are paralyzed.  

I have a sneaking suspicion that if I can achieve this resolution.  To see myself as someone wholly loved and accepted by God, someone worthy of that kind of love, it may put a new light on a reason to take care of myself.  And it just may give me courage to really try a few things I've been talking about for years. 

I've come to terms with the truth that people love me for who I am and those who don't won't if I'm ten pounds lighter or if I have a book on the best seller list.  Internalizing that realization was freeing.  I'm ready to bring my eyes up and untie my own hands.  

Because if God accepts me, who am I to argue?