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Unless you've been living...oh, I don't know, nowhere, then you've probably heard about the Miley circa the VMA's debacle. That, in conjunction with her gratuitously sexual music videos and photos and erratic behavior, have driven her to the forefront of the public eye.
Recently, artist Sinead O'Connor facebooked an open letter to Miley Cyrus in which she describes how she is "extremely concerned for [Miley]" and blathers on about how Cyrus is being pimped, she is not caring for herself, she should use her talent instead of her sexuality, so on and so forth. Millions of people all over the interwebs have heralded O'Connor as some sort sort of martyr and mother figure for her deep-seated compassion and thoughtful advice to the younger artist.
Pardon my french, but I call bullsh*t.
A very public and open facebook post is NOT the appropriate forum to mentor or speak truth to a person in need. I find it troubling that so many people think that it is. (And based on Cyrus' defensive and questionable reaction, I would call into question its efficacy as well.)
I don't want to focus on the tabloid, star-studded, gossip-y controversy (i mean i totally do, but not right now), but rather the mentality driving a lot of the public response.
There are two very basic things we need to call out here:
- If someone needs guidance or counsel that you are in a position to provide, a discrete and personal conversation will go a lot further in demonstrating your concern and compassion. Leave loud public announcements and open letters (that are really more about you and your highly publicized "compassion") behind. It seems a little Pharisaical, don't you think?
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
- All guidance and advice should come from a place of love.
Let all that you do be done in love.
1 Cor 16:14
...Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know.
1 Cor 8:1-2
How do we ensure that we are speaking out of love?
I would humbly suggest that we look at our relationship with the person to whom we are speaking. Do you have any actual knowledge about this person's life or struggles? Have you truly lived life with them? Been there when they've hurt, rejoiced when they've rejoiced? Have you built a foundation for a conversation, not a lecture? Preaching at someone is not loving. Building a sincere and genuine two-way relationship, one in which you listen and talk, is.
I've been a person in need of guidance and instruction. I've been entrenched in sin and had people speak Truth to me. But the advice and support that's meant the most has been given by people who loved me well. The ones who held their hand out when I was in need, who rejoiced with me in my blessings, and intentionally invested in my life...it's never been the ones who arrogantly step in only to counsel and then step out again.
To the self-righteous open letter writers, to the people who are professional hand-shakers and five-minute conversation-havers in between the pews, to the Sunday School classmates who collect prayer requests like Pokemon cards but never follow up:
Just because you have an opinion doesn't mean it's your place to say it.
Counsel and advice should always be rooted in Love, and Love requires investment.
Ok, that's my last open letter.