Thank You, Billy Ray Cyrus…..

Image source: Google Images

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve heard about Miley Cyrus’ overtly sexual performance on this week’s VMAs. Not only have you heard about it, you’ve probably tweeted about it, talked about it and rolled your eyes over the fact that sweet little Hanna Montana has turned into yet another music industry casualty. You’re not alone. I’ve had several conversations with my daughters and friends about Miley’s behavior and the message that it sends. Like most of you, I’m sad for Miley. But, I’m not angry at her or ready to write her off.

While I disagree with Miley’s behavior and am saddened for her, I’m more deeply saddened by level of outcry against her that’s been directed at her as an individual. Attacks on her value as a person, attacks on her character, attacks on her family….. somehow forgetting that Miley, like you and I, is a person whose life is infinitely valuable to our creator. I am confident that His response to her would be quite different from the judgment, sharply directed criticism and christian snobbery that I’ve seen plastered all over social media. For that, my heart breaks for Miley. Where is the spirit of gentleness that we’re instructed to have when it comes to restoring our brothers/sisters in Christ (Galatians 6:1)?

The best response to the whole incident came yesterday – from Miley’s dad, Billy Ray Cyrus:

“Of course I’ll always be here for Miley. Can’t wait to see her when she gets home,” Billy Ray, 52, told ET. “She’s still my little girl and I’m still her Dad regardless how this circus we call show business plays out. I love her unconditionally and that will never change.”

Thank You, Billy Ray Cyrus.

Image Source: Daily News

Image Source: Daily News

Against all the outcry that Billy Ray should be “outraged” by his daughter’s behavior, the speculation that he must have somehow failed as a parent and the tongue-n-cheek references to his “achy breaky heart” – he did the right thing. He said to his daughter publicly – I love you, sweetheart and no matter what you’ll always be mine. Kudos! Our children, no matter what, have to always know that we love them and will be there for them when they come home. My secret prayer has been that he would respond as a dad and not listen to the public outcry. I’ve even said, “I hope Billy Ray doesn’t respond to Miley in any way close to the way that many christians are responding to her.”

I wrote about this very issue earlier this year in a post titled The Prodigal & The Parent and I think it bears repeating that the story of the prodigal son in the bible is also a story about a patient, loving and waiting Father. It’s the story about a father who knew that riches and freedom would take his son straight to the pig pen, but he allowed him to make his own choices anyway. It’s a story about a dad who understood that the values of the world sharply contrasted to the values of his faith and family. Yet, he not only set his son off to do life in the world – he gave him his entire inheritance to fund it. It’s the story of a dad who prayed, loved and missed his son every single day that he was gone. And, it’s the story of a dad who watched that winding road for the smallest hint of his boy coming home – and when he did, he threw the biggest party he possibly could. It’s the story of a dad, like Billy Ray, who understood that his son was still his little boy and couldn’t wait until he got home.

In all of the outcry this week, there have been some very good points. Dads, spend time with your little girls. Parents, teach your children to value themselves so much that they don’t allow the world, their peers, a music industry PR team, or anyone talk them into behaviors just for money, attention or a feeling of worth. Pray for those in the spotlight – Miley, Britney, Justin, Katy, Lady Gaga and others – they need our love, our prayers and our patience. Let’s hug our daughters – all of them – and tell them that they are precious, no matter what.

Before you ask… No, I don’t think Billy Ray is a perfect parent and there’s probably a lot of things he could have done and can do better to help guide Miley. Having said that, I’m not a perfect parent either and every day there are things I can do better for our daughters. But, we must be careful that in our quest to express our heart break over this situation that we remember that Billy and Miley are real people with real feelings, searching for the same acceptance and love that you and I are.

Today, I’m thankful for this reminder to us as parents that we should always be waiting at home for our kids – when we agree with their choices and behaviors and when we don’t. I’m thankful that my heavenly Father never abandoned me when I made stupid mistakes and acted foolish. I’m also thankful that in my darkest moments, the attention of the world’s media and cameras weren’t upon me; if they had been, I’m certain all of you would see me much differently today than you do.

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  • http://pending8-) Jim Francis

    Pam, this is my first encounter with your blog. I am impressed, and I have just become a fan. I’m thinking of starting one of my own (at God’s insistence). Our son Chris has one called “Old Dead Games,” where he talks about little-known or possibly forgotten games (both electronic and board/card games) with a healthy dose of philosophy thrown in.

    But I digress. Good job, Dear Lady. Thank you.

    • Pam Parish

      Thanks Jim, that means a lot to me. You should totally start your own blog 🙂

  • Levonne Leuenberger

    First of all, I would like to say that I did not experience the “Christian snobbery” that you saw plastered all over social media. The only comments that I saw from my facebook friends were shock, sadness and calls to pray for Miley and her family.

    Second of all, I am glad that Billy loves his daughter unconditionally but I hope deep down he realizes that he is responsible for this travesty and not the “circus we call show business”. The MTV performance did not happen in a vacuum but was a culmination of poor parental decisions throughout her career. Do you remember the sultry photo of a 15 year old unclothed Miley under ruffled covers? Her dad allowed that photo to be published. He wasn’t waiting at home when that happened.

    So yes Pam be thankful of the reminder to “always be waiting at home for our kids” but the lesson here is “Train up your child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

    • Pam Parish

      Thanks for your reply, Levonne. I’m so glad that your friends responded with compassion and prayer, so many in the christian community at large did not.

      I can’t speculate on how Billy Ray does or doesn’t feel as a parent, and it’s obvious that he’s made many mistakes. My point is simply that I have made major mistakes as well – mine just aren’t on display for the world to see. As a parent, there are so many days that I can go back and pick apart every poor decision that I’ve made regarding my children, every freedom that I’ve allowed that – in hindsight – was terrible, and the oh-so-many times that I’ve failed to instruct them properly. In much the same way that the father of the prodigal son “funded” his son’s decent into sin, Billy Ray has “funded” Miley’s current situation – but that doesn’t mean that I can judge him harshly as a father, or her as a daughter. I’m called to love, wait, watch and pray – – and teach others to do the same. I pray that one day Miley comes home and I’m thankful that her father will be there with open arms – both having learned lessons from their mistakes along the way.

      As a mom who has “trained my children in the way they should go” – I’ve still made mistakes and my children have still sometimes wandered away into sin, bad choices and lives that I wouldn’t choose for them. God alone is the author and finisher of their faith, just as He is of mine. And, I have to trust Him that He will complete the work He began in their lives, in the same way He is mine. On some days it looks more hopeful than others. But, even in those moments when I’m frustrated with their behavior, embarrassed by a choice they’ve made or saddened by an action they’ve taken – I’m still their mom and they are still among the greatest gifts that God has ever given me.

      • http://pending8-) Jim Francis

        Billy Ray Cyrus has made mistakes. Now let the parent among us who has not made any cast the first stone. Selah, Y’all.

  • Sandra Foster

    First time to read your blog as well…I had thought this am of Miley while reading another authors memories of her own teen years. She wrote, “Sitting here in the quiet it’s hard to remember that girl. If I met her now, I would be gentle with her ignorance, patient with her impatience. I would remind myself that she is only a bud, that she will open, change shape, have a fragrance all her own. I would not reprimand her for the vision she has of herself as large and important and, oh, so independent. There is, I would tell myself, plenty of time ahead for her to learn how good it is, every once in a while , to feel small. And needy. I would smile at her and know that she will eventually learn that it is when we recognize our connection to all things, when we surrender ourselves to the knowledge of need that mysteries are solved, riddles are answered, secrets are revealed.” (Taken from Kathy A Bradley, Breathing and Walking Around Meditations on a Life.) I thanked God that the international tv cameras were not rolling when I was accomplishing some foolish stunts that came with growing up. I thanked God for a dad who was more there for me than I wanted him to be and for a chance to grow up into the fullness of Christ spoken of in Ephesians. Sometimes it takes a shock to bring us to our knees ….. as individuals, as a nation. God promises He makes all things work together for good for those called according to His purposes. Praying Billy Ray and lots of dads are coming face to face with there God and crying out for His guidance in bringing up children as righteous seed. God have mercy on us.

    • Pam Parish

      Sandra, that is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • James Pass

    I must respond to the post by Levonne Leuenberger above.

    1) I, also, did not see the Christian snobbery on my FB page either. It was more jokes about the performance.

    2) To even state that Billy Ray is fully responsible for his daughters performance and/or behavior now that she is a legal adult is utterly ridiculous. The comment of “I hope deep down he realizes that he is responsible for this travesty and not the “circus we call show business.” is simply wrong. Once a child reaches the age to be on their own and move out from under the shelter of your roof, their actions are not the parents responsibility. Miley is on her own, buying her own cars, houses, and paying her own bills. Billy Ray did not orchestrate the music or plan the choreography for her performance. He did not force her to walk on the stage and “perform” the way that she did. Her actions are nobody’s responsibility but her own. To state that her actions are any way his responsibility is like saying your dad should get a ticket when you speed.

    3) Who’s to say that Billy Ray didn’t train her up the way she should have been? Did you live with him? Also, avoid taking that scripture out of context. Don’t pull out one verse to mold to your argument. Take a few minutes, hours, or days, and study the verses and chapters surrounding that verse. There are plenty of excellent parents, pastors, etc., that have trained up their child only to find their child mixed up in drugs, pornography, etc. That verse is not a guarantee that your child will be molded into a God-fearing, church-going adult. If so, there would be no need for our free will to CHOOSE.

    Sandra, thanks for posting!!

    • Pam Parish

      Thanks James!

      • Levonne Leuenberger

        I agree that kids can go wild after being brought up in a Christian home and my kids have certainly done things that I am not proud of. However, as a parent I can say that I am confident that I would not allow my 15 year old daughter to be photographed almost naked while I was MANAGING her career. I would also not let her dress inappropriately for the media while she was a minor. These are the poor parental (and manager) decisions that I spoke of which I believe have led her to be the jaded person she is today. Of course, Miley is an adult and responsible as well (I did not say that Billy was “fully” responsible) but I pray that the whole family will learn from this, and use this as an opportunity to run to the Lord.

  • Levonne Leuenberger

    I pray that Miley and her family will use this situation to turn to Jesus and walk with Him now. I also pray that Miley’s parents will make Christ-centered decisions about their children and their futures.

    • Pam Parish

      I agree with that prayer, Levonne!

  • Michele

    Hello, I think this is the only positive response I have read since the VMA awards. NO I did not watch it but I usually don’t watch any of the singing type shows. My husband is a DJ so I get my fill on all the new music. I think a lot of the morality of the singers, writers, producers and all that is involved in the production is only to sell more music. The VMS’s did not go on with out a lot of Production work, Many Days and hours of Practicing that song. So All of that was approved before it even hit the airways. So we also should send a “shame on the Show” for allowing this! As for her partner in Crime on stage he should get a sham on him for being used in that context since she could be his Grand daughter. Off of my soap box now!

    As a parent of 2 beautiful Young Adults. We have all made mistakes and have to live with the outcome. We should just be thankful that was not our child on stage. Also as Parents we should know better than to point fingers too. We should just be Thankful!


    • Pam Parish

      Thank you so much, Michele.

  • Chris Martinov

    It’s ok to call sin”sin”. What’s the point in telling people about the good news without first telling them about the bad news? Modern-day liberal Christian theology has done a disservice to the true message of the gospel by exclusively preaching, ad nausea, the message of “God is love” without first telling them about sin, repentance, and the need for reconciliation to a holy God who is displeased with their sin. Isn’t that really true love a , doctor delivering the difficult message of cancer to a patient and then being able to offer a treatment? What good is it that the doctor looks at their cancer ridden patient in the eyes, smiles at them and tells them, “it’s all good”.