Conversions: Bieber & Francis
A lot of my podcasts are on a break between recording and posting, so I’ve found some new music. Justin Bieber’s new album intrigued me because he talks a lot about these changes he’s been going through.
I’ve liked Justin from the beginning when I found him on YouTube before his first album. He was my age and when his first album came out was around the same time my parents were getting a divorce. I knew his family was going through more than I was, so his story helped me get through mine. Later on, he found a lifestyle that involved more than just drugs, so I distanced myself from anything he put out. However, I saw he had a new album out, and I decided to give it a try. I also found an interview where he talks about what has happened in this past season of his life.
This interview is so, so important because he answers the big questions of life organically. If you’d like to watch the interview, you can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_fw3qNx1OM
Justin cancelled his last tour right in the middle of it all. He was way past overwhelmed, and his team described him as not being himself. He pushed himself too far and tried escaping from it with drugs and more. When he cancelled the rest of his tour, he had come to his breaking point, and he knew he needed to deal with the pain instead of running away from it. If he didn’t, it probably could’ve been life threatening.
In this interview, he goes on to answer questions about his wife, who he recently married in the past year. She opened him to love and to trust again, which he is still working on among anxiety and illnesses. She’s also helped tremendously in helping him make healthier choices for himself. Media has tried to spur up controversy in how Justin talks about before he proposed he wasn’t sure if he could be faithful to her. In all honesty, he was a shell of himself at the time so he couldn’t even stay loyal to himself. He was learning to be a person again. He wrote songs about all of these changes and created a “honeymoon album” as the interviewer pointed out.
His faith was reignited in the process. Justin recognizes that God saved his life. He doesn’t try to force or convince anyone what to believe, but God’s Presence rings effortlessly true in his life. He realized the bad position physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually he put himself in when he lived the drugs and party lifestyle. Then he flipped the coin and began to do good things for himself and for others again. There can be a fine line though with going too far and thinking, “wow, look at all of this good I am doing.” He saw that pride and self-righteousness in himself, and he changed his perspective. This shows incredible awareness growing in him.
His life displays that everyone is a work in progress, and he continues to make efforts to deal with the pains of the past and all the emotions and hurt that come with that. He’s being honest about the human experience.
The human condition, unfortunately, is subject to sin. As we recognize that in ourselves and go to confession, we can find reconciliation, healing, and conversion. What a conversion Justin experienced from self-medicating to facing his inner pain and fears to working on changing to sharing what he’s learned about himself and life along the way.
His story reminds me of St. Francis of Assisi. I’m not saying that Francis was a pop singer who got into drugs or that Justin is the next Saint to be canonized, but that their stories share parallels in the human experience.
Francis was popular among his peers, and the whole town knew who he was. He was very familiar with wine, the ladies, late nights, being selfishly loud in public places. His dream was to marry the most attractive woman in town and have a family. What he wanted more than that was to become a successful knight, climb the ranks, become upper class, and have his legacy live on forever.
He went on to join the battle and it was short-lived because he was captured as a prisoner of war for a year. Prisons weren’t cells back then. It was a giant, uncovered pit in the middle of nowhere. You were exposed to the elements and relied on the mercy of others to provide food. It is here that Francis was forced to face his inner battles. Through time, he found God was all he could truly rely on.
He eventually got out of prison and wasn’t the same Francis anymore. He had many conversion moments, and he now had greater priorities to serve the less fortunate, live with and in poverty, be obedient to what God needs him to do, and to be honest about his story. When he shared his journey and struggles authentically, a lot of people thought he was nuts. He also gained a lot of followers and ended up creating the Franciscan order for those who wanted to share in his new lifestyle he lived for God.
All of us are human and make mistakes. Justin and Francis made their mistakes in the limelight, so everyone knew their dirt. As they learned, they shared, and so many lives are touched because of it. It’s now our responsibility to do the same. It’s our duty to face the music and ready ourselves for whatever purpose God has in store for us.
Are you ready to hear God’s call?
Do you have the courage to work through your mistakes? Can you share that story so others can be inspired?
Are you willing to live in the present moment and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you?
What conversion moments is God working in your life currently?
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel will save it.” -Mark 8:35