BY: Sarah Rainey

motivation_from_mileyThe last place I expected to receive spiritual inspiration is in the songs of Miley Cyrus. Love her? Hate her? She's a pop princess, a product of Disney, and ready to make her own mark. At 18, she's already achieved massive fame and her dose of scandal.

Whether you deem her as a role model or parenting nightmare, set aside what you know of Miley Cyrus.

Then reinterpret her lyrics and you can find a spiritual lesson. Yes, you're right. These songs are not meant to be spiritual. That's the whole joy of reinterpretation: make something secular into something spiritual.


When my world is falling apart
When there's no light to break up the dark
That's when
I look to you
When the waves
Are flooding the shore and I can't
Find my way home anymore
That's when
I look to you
When I look at you I see forgiveness
I see the truth
You love me for who I am
Like the stars, hold the moon
Right there where they belong
And I know I'm not alone


This song originally was used to promote Miley's appearance in the film The Last Song, matching love song with love story. It's a song of finding strength in an ambiguous loved one. The listener is inclined to jump to "boyfriend," but Miley doesn't exactly specify, leaving me open to interpret. The song emphasizes forgiveness amidst a state of disarray. Her world is falling apart, presumably because of something she has done that needs forgiveness.

Sound familiar? Miley's song oddly contains thematic elements similar to the story of the prodigal son: despair, realization, and redemption. The story is well known; several religions promote similar storylines. The Christian Book of Luke and the Buddhist Sutra both tell the story of a son, empty and in need of forgiveness. Both stories characterize the father as completely compassionate while the son is undeserving. There are moments in our lives where we feel we need to reconnect, to return home to find strength and forgiveness.

Miley reminds me to return to my spiritual roots to find strength and relief. I like to think of myself as a self-sufficient person. Give me a little direction, and I take off. My husband often asks, "Hey, what can I do?" Well, um... I've normally taken care of everything because that's my nature. Tithe? Check. Grocery list? Check. Rent? Car payment? Ordering textbooks? Check, check, check. Unless it's doing dishes or taking out the trash—two chores I loathe— I'm on top of it. So it's very difficult to admit I need help.

The same rings true in my spiritual life. I like to coast, thinking I'm fine...until I realize how far I've drifted away. Then begins the long process of getting myself back on the right path home—attending, reading, praying. Each time, I am undeserving. I mean, really, if I can't take the time to pray, why should the Listener care on His end? But I'm always welcomed back into the fold. Miley gets it right: "You love me for who I am." I come back to Unconditional Love each time.

Miley's motivation for spiritual change is simple: admit you need forgiveness, seek home, find Love, and stumble upon truth in faith's company. That's a spiritual regimen I can vouch for.



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