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January 9th, 2013
10:52 AM ET

My Take: An open letter to Justin Bieber

Editor's Note: Cathleen Falsani is an award-winning religion journalist and author of four books including her latest, BELIEBER: Fame, Faith and the Heart of Justin Bieber. Find Cathleen on Twitter @godgrrl or on Facebook.

By Cathleen Falsani, Special to CNN

Chickity check yo self before you wreck yo self ~ Ice Cube

Dear Justin,

Please consider this a well-being check from someone who genuinely cares about you: Me.

Let me begin by saying that I am for you. I have studied you and your career since you stepped into the public spotlight as an adolescent. You are a gift to the world – to your family, your friends and your tens of millions of devoted fans.

Sweetheart, here’s the thing (and this is an “and,” not a “but”): I’m worried about you. It’s not that you smoke pot (or anything else). It’s what that choice and behavior means.

Like so many of your admirers, I have celebrated your successes, danced to your music, sung along with you in the car, prayed with you when you’ve publicly asked us to join you in lifting up the victims of cataclysm and despair, and prayed for you – for your protection and health, direction and inspiration.

I know you are keenly aware of the many gifts you’ve been given and who bestowed them on you. And I know you understand that to whom much is given, much is expected and required.

With a perspective and sense of responsibility far beyond your years, throughout your public life thus far you have articulated beautifully and clearly your gratitude for the extraordinary favor and experiences you have had and continue to have as the most famous teenager on the planet.

And you have given thanks publicly and consistently to your supporters, the team that manages your business, mentors, creative partners, and your God.

Belief Blog Rewind: The gospel according to Justin Bieber

You regularly encourage your fans – young and old – to follow your lead and recognize the blessings in their own lives, to “pay it forward,” give back, and try to change the world for the better.

Justin, as has been your intention, you have been a positive influence on countless children and young people around the globe. And I believe that you will continue to be a force of light and joy as long as you don’t choose to ignore the divine GPS located in your heart of hearts.

Few of us, who know you only through your public persona, can fathom the pressures of superstardom that you live with every day.

Last year you reached a milestone when you turned 18. You are living in a liminal state, standing at the threshold between childhood and adulthood, still more boy than man.

Times of transition and change are difficult for anyone, never mind someone whose every move in public is chronicled by relentless paparazzi and other members of the media. You must be gentle with yourself as you navigate these new waters, but you also must be diligent to guard your heart and mind more now than ever.

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Whether you’ve partaken of the “sacred herb” just once or burn more cabbage than Tommy Chong at a Furthur show is not the issue that most concerns me.

It’s the decision to light a spliff or one-hitter or cigarette or whatever it was in that Newport Beach hotel room last week where folks were snapping pictures with their smartphones that troubles me.

What you do and say echoes around the world. Your very young fans watch and listen to you carefully. When they see images of you with a butt or blunt in your hand or waiting for a friend to pour you a glass of vodka, the message they receive is inconsistent and confusing.

I can’t imagine that was your intention, if you gave much thought at all to what you were doing before you chose to do it, but that’s the reality.

Is it fair that you should need to consider millions of other people before you decide how to spend an evening with friends? Probably not. But that is the life you have chosen (or that, perhaps at least, in part, was chosen for you by others) and you have a responsibility to act accordingly.

You do have the choice to disregard your responsibilities. But you don’t have the choice to avoid the consequences of your actions.

Everybody makes mistakes, and all of us behave in ways that are not our highest and best selves. None of us is defined by our worst moments. That’s what grace – and I know you understand what grace is – is all about.

In the past, when you’ve made choices that maybe weren’t the best, you have owned them, apologized, made amends and self-corrected. As you lean farther into young adulthood, I pray that you will continue to do so.

You know better than anyone exactly what temptations and opportunities celebrity brings. And I know you know well the cautionary tales of far too many child celebrities who have reached the threshold in which you now stand and made terrible choices that have led to their destruction.

I don’t believe that’s how your story is meant to end. But it could be if you are reckless and lose sight of true north.

Remember who you are, Justin. Remember who you were created to be. A city on a hill. Salt and light.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Don’t forget that you are loved precisely for who you are: Justin Drew Bieber, precious child of the Creator. Not because you are a pop idol. Not because you are a commodity. Not because you are a superstar.

You are loved because you are. Full stop. Nothing you could ever do would make God love you less. Nothing you could ever do would make God love you more.

Pick yourself up, knock the dust off, check that sacred GPS, and walk on.

May the God who loves you more than all of your millions of fans ever will continue to bless and protect you.

Grace and all the good things,

Cathleen

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Cathleen Falsani.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Music • My Take • Uncategorized

soundoff (88 Responses)
  1. weight loss

    Excellent issues altogether, you simply won a logo new reader. What might you recommend in regards to your submit that you just made some days in the past? Any sure?

    May 28, 2013 at 5:20 am |
  2. Lowell Beuthin

    Earlier, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez revealed that they have split up their own relationship over Justin Bieber close friends Chris Brown, Lil Wyane and Sean Kingston. Justin and Selena which is known as Jelena apparently concluded their relationship after a concert of Selena Gomez in Florida together with Sean Kingston. It also seems Selena doesn't like Justin Bieber to hang with his friend Lil Wayne, who has bad background of drugs possession as well as Chris Brown. Selena also claimed that by next coming days She will try to keep her relationship with Justin Bieber as normal as possible.`;:'

    http://healthwellnessbook.comTake care

    May 22, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
  3. George Stamkos

    "Everybody makes mistakes, and all of us behave in ways that are not our highest and best selves."... He didn't make a mistake. He smoked a joint, big deal. He made that decision, there is no problem with that, so why should he have to apologize to anyone. He was being himself, he shouldn't be forced to conform to what a part of society thinks is proper. Be yourself, and smoke a joint if you want. It's your life.

    January 14, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  4. the AnViL

    cathleen – your infatuation with justin is sortuv creepy. you're a mature woman – try to grow up.

    also – there's no gods.

    sincerely – your arch-enemy, the AnViL

    p.s.

    seek therapy

    January 11, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  5. Carole M

    Thank you for speaking the truth in love!

    January 10, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
  6. sewa mobil

    hello!,I like your writing so much! proportion we be in contact more approximately your post on AOL? I require a specialist in this area to solve my problem. Maybe that is you! Having a look ahead to see you.

    January 10, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  7. Sam Yaza

    me and my friends have a bet going on when Bieber will start his hormone therapy.

    January 10, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  8. Dan in Tulsa

    Reading this article and the comments following moves me to keep praying that someday, somehow California will fall into the ocean (Preferably during a Bieber show).

    #learntoswim.

    January 10, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
  9. me

    Listen lady he's just a kid having fun, he doesn't owe anything to anybody. If they don't like what he's doing they'll stop buying his music. Nobody is perfect so relax, everybody grows up, it happened to you, almost.

    January 10, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  10. n1988

    Out of all of the insightful and thought-provoking pieces I'm sure are submitted daily....I'm at a loss as to how this was selected.

    January 10, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  11. zombie

    Dear annoying Beiber fan,
    No body cares about this stupid kid, why don't you get a real life.

    January 10, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • richard

      Everybody here knows your words aren't true,so why bother saying them? Are you hoping that your words will ahve influence on the masses? Well, it didn't. I don't really like his music, but I do care about the guy.

      January 11, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  12. Boris

    Justin who?

    January 10, 2013 at 9:51 am |
  13. Jes Damina

    Thank you for this post. Its wise to look out for the celebrities that young people look up to because whether we believe it or not, we all get affected in some way :)

    January 10, 2013 at 9:05 am |
  14. *kelly master

    Beautifully written!

    January 10, 2013 at 7:40 am |
  15. Reality

    And what is even more disturbing is that Bieber is not a very good singer !!!

    January 10, 2013 at 7:36 am |
  16. Al

    Cathleen's other 3 books.

    1. Beiber Fever: How I became infected.
    2. He loves me he loves me not: My Interview with Justin.
    3. Coping with life's setbacks: The restraining order.

    January 10, 2013 at 1:11 am |
    • Lefty Pamer

      I thought she wrote "Beavers For Beiber: I'll Scream 'GOD!' for You Justin!"

      January 10, 2013 at 1:28 am |
    • Good Stuff

      This woman is pathetic

      January 10, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  17. lol??

    Some high school teachers get in trouble when they stalk middle school boys.

    January 10, 2013 at 12:47 am |
  18. Portland tony

    Justin Bieber is in fact just a commodity. He is what his handlers want him to be. He makes millions playing a role that was written specifically for him. Perhaps as he matures he will develop into a real person with his own personality. Save your letter writing until then!

    January 9, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • Appreciate This Nuanced Post

      I agree with you Portland Tony. JB's been shaped into a fabricated something for the benefit of those who profit from him. A much more interesting conversation than the one that's been going on here in these comments could be about what it means to commodify children into "celebrities" or "child stars."

      He's a boy and has been burdened with fame and image and so many things that make him a person who understandably might operate outside-in rather than inside-out.

      But the one hair I'd split with you is that he, like you and me and everyone we truly know in our real lives, must be a person who is evolving and affected by the way he's received in the world and from what he learns and with what he truly engages. He's a person, not a commodity. But prolly most of the people he knows can't help but see him as a commodity even if it's hard for them to admit it. They. Make. Money. From. Him. It must be awful to be in such a position (for them and for him).

      Stuff kinda sneaks up on us, right?

      I appreciate that Cathleen Falsani is speaking to him as a person, as someone who is real and young. She's not just thinking the worst of him or thinking of him as a cut-out. She's speaking to him as a real young adult who is floundering a bit, as young adults do. But most young adults don't have to bear the burden of SO MUCH PRESSURE.

      I hope for him (and for those who clearly delight in being naysayers/haters/whatever here) and for all of us that we can bring good to those we engage with in our lives.

      #lifeisshort – stopjustbeinghaters

      January 10, 2013 at 12:12 am |
  19. Charlie Sheen

    I'm hurt! Where's my letter?

    January 9, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • Appreciate This Nuanced Post

      Oh Charlie who isn't really Charlie. This is so endearing. Wishing you every good thing. xo

      January 10, 2013 at 12:29 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.