CantBeTamedMiley Cyrus can’t be tamed, blamed, or changed.   Or so she says. In contrast to her sweet Disney image, Miley has taken a rebellious turn in her later teenage years. And it’s coming out in her music. It’s darker, sexier, and more independent. Given the secular nature of her songs, can spiritual lessons be learned from Miley? Absolutely.

I wanna fly, I wanna drive, I wanna go
I wanna be a part of something I don’t know
And if you try to hold me back, I might explode
Baby, by now you should know
I can’t be tamed
I can’t be tamed
I can’t be blamed
I can’t, can’t, I can’t be tamed
I can’t be changed
I can’t be tamed
I can’t, can’t, I can’t be tamed

There’s a lot of energy and angst in this song, a clear desire to be independent, liberated, and free. And sure, that’s a natural part of growing up. The core message of the song is one of empowerment: be true to yourself in your relationships.

Many of us can be rebellious spiritually, especially if we find our childhood religion or denomination restrictive.  Where does that leave us? We become spiritual teenagers. We’re moody and searching for a new spiritual outlet—one that meets our needs. We often end up changing instead of changing ourselves. There are so many options out there; we’re bound to find one that fits our needs. It’s all about us.

Yet most religions teach community-based principles. It’s not about us; it’s about what we can do for others, how we can create peace and community well-being.  Even though Miley seeks liberation in “Can’t Be Tamed,” she also wants to be a part of “something” she doesn’t know. That “something” spiritually is representative of a desire for a spiritual relationship with the Divine. by Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton explains: more than 80% of teens are affiliated with a local congregation, but only slightly more than 50% attend services at least two times a month. We want liberation, we don’t want to be changed, and yet we still want fulfillment from a spiritual community—even if we don’t always want to participate regularly.

Is that reasonable? Not likely.

Miley belts out “Don’t change me” in the background repeatedly. But there’s a difference between active and passive change. You can choose to make a change, taking full advantage of your personal freedoms. Or, you can be forced to change. I much prefer the first. Perhaps, your faith requires tithing, giving to the poor, a trip to Mecca, a year of religious service. Will that change your routine? Probably. Will your spiritual needs be met? Definitely. By helping others, we can be personally empowered.

Still feeling like you can’t be tamed? Miley’s song may not hit a spiritual lesson on the nose, but it certainly opens a spiritual discussion. There are no hard and fast rules. Her song personally reminds me to redirect my energies to the well-being of others when I get frustrated with religious structure.

We should be true to ourselves in our spiritual relationships. We should be willing to change if necessary. That doesn’t mean we should do things we feel are meaningless. Instead, we should view it as a challenge: find a faith lifestyle that dares you to do more for others.

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