It’s hard to keep up with pop stars who might be relevant to my kids’ lives. For a time, my children liked Miley Cyrus because of her catchy songs and her fun Disney sitcom Hannah Montana. When she filmed her movie in my hometown of Columbia, Tenn., we were even extras. (In the carnival scene, we were the hot, sweaty people in the crowd of hot, sweaty people. Please, no autographs.) Her life’s trajectory has been quite a “teachable moment,” as we talked about faith, family, and the high price of fame.
Since then, we haven’t really discussed many other celebs. (The kids don’t have a huge pop-culture diet, thankfully.) For example, they know who Justin Bieber is, but probably can’t name one of his songs. Nor can I. However, I read this article about a book by Cathleen Falsani (Belieber!: Fame, Faith, and the Heart of Justin Bieber) which talks about the young superstar’s faith. The article, written by Jean Yih Kingston, begins by describing his biggest fan:
Like many victims, she didn’t tell anybody about her years of sexual abuse. When she was a teenager, she resorted to drugs and alcohol to numb her pain. She left home at fifteen, lived in a house with a bunch of guys, became a thief, and skipped school. By the time she was seventeen, she was so desperate she tried to violently take her own life by running onto a busy street in front of a truck.
Fortunately, the driver swerved and the girl landed in a psychiatric ward instead of the morgue. A youth minister visited her many times and spoke to her about God’s love. Eventually, she felt God’s presence within her while alone in her hospital room. After this experience, she cleaned up her act and even went to church. But she was drawn back to her old lifestyle and drugging friends. At eighteen, she became pregnant.
Sometimes it’s easier to turn off the television and refuse to let our children know about pop culture. After all, we’ve seen so many stars and athletes who proclaim to have faith end up renouncing it to sell more records or to make more headlines. However, I’m using these stories to talk to my children about the pitfalls — and opportunities — of life.
Against all odds, I always hope someone like Justin Bieber can keep fighting the good fight. Maybe, after reading the kids the story about “Justin’s Biggest Fan,” we might become fans too.