I am so not, into the whole “celebrity thing”.  I don’t read tabloids.  I don’t watch gossip TV.  I just don’t get it.  I avoid it.  It’s with a sense of pride that I’m convinced I’m somehow “above that”.  That same attitude carried over the first time I saw Lynne Spears book “Through the Storm” on the local bookstore’s shelf.  I already hate what the media does to people- I had no need to read the sordid details about it. I’m above getting involved in all that… aren’t I?  I didn’t give it another thought.

Funny how sometimes God uses exactly what we try and avoid to speak to our hearts.  Lynne Spears was a surprise speaker at MOPS Convention. I wrote about my response to what she shared at convention, on the MOPS Convention blog. I was surprised by how I felt.  She seemed so “normal”.  The things she said were things I’ve said, and have heard from hundreds of mom’s I’ve met and worked with in MOPS International. Instead of a creature of the media or a woman on a vendetta to prove the media wrong- I came face to face with a mom.  Just like any other mom.  I left that session even more committed to reaching out to every mom.

I decided to read the book. I finished it this morning.  What the media had touted as a “parenting book” by Lynne Spears, was NOT a parenting book. Not even close. It is a moms journey, told with authenticy and a realness that grabbed my heart.

As I closed the cover, I realized that Lynne’s story could be read two ways. It would be easy to sit and say:  “Well- isn’t that a shame. Such nice folk, the media has really ripped them off and messed them up.” I could have gone on my merry way- happy and self righteous that I don’t buy the tabloids or watch the shows or read the magazines that have done them so much harm. I could have pitied them and left the book on the table- walking away from it the same person I was when I picked the book up.

Or, I could look deeper into Lynne’s story- and see my own story, and the stories of so many men and women I’ve known.  People whose pain and lives have not been torn apart or blown up in the public media- but those that have been just as judged, torn apart and talked about by the private media.  The  gossip- covered in the veil of “prayer requests” and “venting.”  The cautions and warnings spoken as advice given “in love” about a family- or person… “just so you know.”  Is that any less destructive?  Is that judgmentalism any less painful or hurtful?

I don’t think so.

Lynne’s book sits on the table next to me, right now.  It haunts me with questions…”How did we get here?”  “How did we become a culture that craves the worst?”  “When did we make a sporting event of putting people on pedestals only to strip them naked and then taunt their flaws while they are there?” “When did we start airbrushing more interesting flaws into their lives with lies and photoshop, just to momentarily satiate that craving for the worst we can imagine?” “What happened?” More importantly, “How can we change it?”

It’s easy to blame the media. But, the media only sells what we’ll buy. The truth is- we’ve been surviving on “home-brewed” gossip with our own private media networks, doing the very same things, forever.   I’ve never seen paparazzi at church, or in my mom’s group, knitting group or playgroup.  Camera’s aren’t usually involved. But, there sure are a lot of “reporters” just dying to tell a story, true or not.  And, there are plenty of “readers” who may not be reading in print- but are reading with their ears every word of it. In my opinion, the only way to change it- is to stop it- right where we are.  Right where it started.  With us- individually.

What if, whenever someone started up with a tantalizing “giving you a heads up” story or a venting that was just plain gossip cloaked in “accountability, and authenticity” we simply said: “Enough.  These are PEOPLE you are talking about. People created by and loved by God, if you aren’t going to do anything to really help- then, shut up and start praying for them- and I don’t mean sharing prayer requests.”

I wonder what would happen?  To be honest- I’m not sure.  But, I’m willing to try.

I recommend reading Lynne Spears book: “Through the Storm” read it with an open mind… look past the paparrazzi and the media circus- that may make you feel disconnected.  Listen to a mothers heart.. a heart that loves her daughters and son and grandchildren, who is doing the best she can with what life is throwing at her and hanging onto her faith. Let it change the way you think about the people around you.  Let it change the way you act.

And now- since I don’t know how on earth I can HELP the Spears family- I’ll do this:

I’ll shut up, and pray-

Dear Jesus- this mom’s heart beats for her kids.  She’s doing the best she can and hanging onto her faith.  I pray with her-that she and her children will grow in their relationships with you.  As Lynne shared- I pray for a season of smooth sailing for their family. I pray for Britney, Jayden and Preston, I pray for Jamie Lynn and Maddie, I pray for Bryan Spears, Jamie Spears and for Lynne Spears. No longer creations of the media to me- but YOUR creation- God- I pray for them-  the same prayer that Paul prayed for the Ephesians– and the theme verses we are wading through for MOPS International- this year:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I love you lord- and am so glad you brought Lynne Spears to MOPS and her book into my home.  I pray that I will walk away different. Changed.  Amen.

I admit— the next time I “slip” and catch myself in a situation where the public or the private media have again caught my attention— I am TOTALLY gonna hear Britney’s voice singing “Oops, I did it again” :)