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.
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.