Messages from Young Adults

The Michael in Me

Last night at the BET music awards Jaime Foxx said, “We want to celebrate this black man.  He belongs to us and we shared him with everybody else.”  But did MJ really belong?

The death of Michael Jackson actually made me turn on my television after probably weeks of having no interaction with the tube other than an occasional glance at some much needed dusting.   I’d been in study mode all day Thursday, June 25th and hadn’t even stopped to check my nytimes homepage, and so I heard about both Farrah & Michael all at once some time between 9 and 10pm.  Two individuals both remembered for their broad reaching and lasting effect on pop culture.  One we praised for her beauty, while the other we ridiculed as he transformed into a quasi-beast.

Looking at the lives of these two individuals, there are stark contrasts to be noted.  We can see how childhood experiences and relationships stain the psyche and can have detrimental effects later on in life during young adulthood.  When we look back at the life of Michael Jackson, we’re quick to say “What happened??”  But whether you deny “more-than-just a nose job” each Sabbath you mask-up before heading to church, or whether you build your own Neverland as an overcompensation for even the subtle traumas of your childhood – you look just like him.

It’s an understatement to suggest Michael had identity issues, and perhaps he lost his way or like Farrah, found himself living in a body he no longer knew.  Whether you have something eating away at your core like a cancerous deathbed, or you’re paranoid about unattractive extremities – there’s a little of Michael in all of us – and I’m not just talking about  your Thriller record.  It’s that thing that makes you doubt you’re anything less than “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-14).  It’s that thing that makes you forget “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” (Jeremiah 1:5).

We all have imperfections.  We live in an imperfect world.

Our created purpose is to let God’s light shine through every facet of our being, expressing his colors and beauty through us in ways no one else can.

If you look at a ring under the microscope every day and become intimately familiar with every flaw, you might be embarrassed by it.  But that is not how God meant the beauty of diamonds to be seen.  The beauty of a diamond is seen when someone holds it up in the sunlight and everyone can see it sparkle.

We are created to shine with the light of God’s creative genius.  When you appreciate yourself in all your uniqueness, you will dare to hold your life up to the light.  You will dare to live out the beauty you were created to express . . . cleaned and polished with the forgiveness of God.

– Connie Neal, Devotional Thought on Beauty, God’s Words of Life

That’s why whether we sit at the Asian table or the with the jocks table in the cafeteria, we must “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:7). Let’s get it right before the next guy dies.

Cause, that’s something worth celebrating.

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  • Mithun (Author) said:

    Great reminder, Janice. We can easily forget the extreme reality of the depth of our own sin, merely because its ugliness is not seen on our skin and face, merely because we are too prideful to let our voice be soft and quivering, uttering things of depravity. Thanks for a better perspective on Michael Jackson’s life and death.

  • Sarah said:

    It’s great to see an Adventist, Christian perspective about a death that has everybody talking. Did Michael have peace in Jesus? Hmmm…

  • Tosin Ola said:

    I’m so over the Michael Jackson memorials. When he was alive, people ridiculed him and made fun of him….noone got close enough to help him out with his obvious issues. Now the same people are throwing Memorials and giving speeches….after he’s dead and gone. What a shame.

    I would rather be spoken of as an ‘inspiration’ when alive then when I’m dead. The dead no nothing…too much, too little, too late.

  • Bolanle Osundele said:

    Micheal lived and died, it;s sad to know that he was lonely and depressed during his last days…. i heard he accepted Christ just a few weeks before he died. It is a common practice for ppl to celebrate and appreciate one’s deed after one is gone but would be better to do so while one is still alive …may be it will be an inspiration, bring peace, or joy. He was an icon, a musical legend with a big heart and he made a difference…what are you doing in your generation?

  • ellamennopea (Author) said:

    Frankly, I didn’t “know” MJ (as he’s affectionately labeled in memorial sites these days) as the rest of the world, apparently, did. Sure, I knew of him – vaguely knew of his music, his style, his odd “look” – but I couldn’t name more than 3 or 4 of his song titles. However, the frenzy over the past few days since his death have caused me to quickly re-examine someone that the world has both idolized and vilified.

    Friday, I found a full length version of “Thriller” on YouTube and watched it.

    Besides the fact that I now remember actually having seen “Thriller” (albeit an impromptu performance by friends in middle school), more and more of his music has flooded my psyche. (I’ve got to turn the radio and Internet off!!!) And you know what? By any worldly standard, the man was good – a good dancer, a talented singer, an electrifying performer. Outside of that, what else do we know to judge? Yes, he probably lived a life full of anguish and self-destruction, a real-life example of the “no one is perfect” quip we love to make. In a similar way, so many people in the public eye fall victim to the same kind of crushing scrutiny.

    But do we help them? Did we help him? *laugh*

    As a society, we ravenously look for the next “big thing”, fetishize it into our vision of perfection (especially if the thing/person/idea makes $$$ for us), hang on to it until it does something stupid, and then, we shake our heads and say, “how sad.” We’re human – that’s what we do. And then, when said celebrity dies too young/too tragically/too soon, we mourn mourn mourn…as if we had lost a best friend. Never mind that we cannibalized the person and left their bleeding, delirious forms in the dark recesses of rehab or obscurity. We simply choose to remember the “good old days” – the ones in which the performer/celebrity made us feel better about ourselves and the world we live in.

    Time is the great eraser of memory. It’s easy to say that we want to be known for this or that while alive – that’s certainly admirable. But how do we get to that point? What will be the thing that causes people to echo the apostle in Acts 16 when he observes that the men they’ve chosen to send on to the Gentiles of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia are “men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” ? Now that’s something to be remembered for!

    When it’s all said and done, numerous performers who have given us amazing music, thought-provoking literature, and elevating art die sad and miserable deaths. They die alone, often addicted to some substance or another, and a lot of the times, in the mire of infamy.
    We take what we want, then spit out the rest.

    What’s wrong with this picture? What are we doing to ourselves? Even worse, what are we doing to each other?

  • Janice A. Becca (Author) said:

    @ mithun: “the depth of our sin” – it’s really humbling.

    @ sarah: nice to have you stop by aya – i think the more important question is “are we at peace?”

    @ tosin: it’s not really about whether you’re praised when alive or dead, but rather to whom you give all the praise, honor, & glory. i see your point though, and don’t worry – the hype about michael’s death will quickly dissipate. the point is to pause & check our own lives.

    @ bolanle: i’m not sure michael’s death will change much. even after 9/11 people managed to find their way back to animosity. your question is right on though – as Christians – how are responding to and reaching everyone out there caught up in the “shallow disappointment”? we ought to seize the opportunity to show real love & affection to the living.

    @ kijana/ellamennopea: i should have had you post this topic. :) excellent points.

  • Kendall Turcios said:

    Thanks for this Janice. I praise God for the relevant thoughts and messages you always share. It’s true we all have a bit of Michael in us, my reaction to his death, was ‘good riddance’ I’m just glad he’s finally resting from such a painful life. I still remember my mom buying me a ‘thriller’ jacket in the 3rd grade (of course she had no idea whose it was), and I was like YEAH I am too cool! It was a great addition to my parachute pants. But as you laugh at the mental image I just painted, what does your fashion represent for you today. Our fascination with celebrity is a symptom of a deeper vacuum, always looking to others to somehow tell us what’s acceptable, noteworthy, special, or worthwhile.

    Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

  • Angelique said:

    Janice – you’re an inspiration – not only from you in-depth insight and “reality” so many of us ignore each day, but also for being able to see and share at a time when those in similar bar-study-crazed, (or other personal) crisis – easily forget the humanity in others. Thank you!


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