An Exercise in Self-Revelation

There has been a great deal of wind gusting in the wake of last week’s “Adventure of the Billboard Dress”.   The conversation has been largely about modesty, and appropriateness, and high fashion in the music industry.  Those topics have been pretty much exhausted in the hot air of moral debate.

However, when all was said and done, those points were not as important as were our individual, personal reactions to the event. The flurry of approvals and disapprovals regarding Lindsey Stirling’s wardrobe at the Billboard awards has given us all a rare opportunity to demonstrate who we are.  And it has been an interesting exercise of self-revelation.  I hope we were all paying close attention to what we thought and what we said.  Some found expression in a disappointing display of snap judgment and criticism.  Others rose above the level of the mob and sparkled in a demonstration of charity and understanding that touched Lindsey’s heart in a dark time. That kind of love will one day change the world.  At least that was the Savior’s point of view – a teaching he demonstrated, time and time again, by example.

But aside from the sneers and the cheers, I would like to emphasize one point has not been made forcefully enough.  So as a father I will make it.  We all know who Lindsey Stirling is.  It is difficult not to see who she is, day in, day out.  Seldom has there been so sincere, so straightforward, and so genuine an individual in today’s culture of entertainment.  She is ‘right up front’ in her expressions and appreciative of the people who love her and her music.  She wears her religion on her sleeve and is perfectly willing to let the world know why.  She has a testimony of the goodness of God and is not afraid to share it.  And in word and deed she does so daily in more ways than most of us make the effort to do in a month of Sundays.

And I’m not hard pressed to say that there is probably not one in a thousand of us who could bear up under the pressure of the public eye and the influence of the world with as much grace and optimism and courage as Lindsey does – interview after interview, concert after concert, and yes, award show after award show.

Do yourself a favor.  Take a look at that picture everyone’s talking about.  Now, forget the dress and look at those eyes.  That’s  Lindsey!  There is no bitterness, or arrogance, or stain of the world in those eyes.  Those eyes tell the real story of Lindsey Stirling.  There is someone who loves the Lord – and along with millions of adoring fans, he loves her back.

Finally, to Lindsey I have a gem of truth, of which you will need to be reminded again and again, because in many ways you live in a fish bowl and you belong to the world.  It is a thought from philosopher Elbert Hubbard. “To be misunderstood is the penalty for greatness.  But it is no proof of greatness.  The final proof of greatness lies in being able to endure criticism [and misunderstanding] without resentment.”

May you ever continue to be great.

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24 thoughts on “An Exercise in Self-Revelation

  1. Rex Herfurth

    Thank you very much Mr. Stirling for posting your perspective on this issue. I’ll be as brief as possible and to the point. I don’t look at Lindsey as being perfect or flawless…….I sure know about this subject…..I’ve made way too many mistakes and errors in my life. But I do look at her as being one of the most unique and refreshing persons that has ever come into my life. She has grabbed my head and heart with what she has created in her music…..and just who she is……she has opened this door and affected my life…….and countless others so much!! You and your whole family are unique……..I thank you all for being who you are!!!

  2. Britt

    Your words where so spot on and wonderfully written. I saw the “debate” thrashing around on the Internet and I have to say I was praying none of these people would get to know me and judge my choices and tear me apart.
    Lindley eyes are windows to her soul and I have to say what I see is beauty but also love for Christ. She is an exemplary young woman.

  3. Virginia Toral

    Well said brother Stirling, you have a wonderful and wholesome family. You could not have said it any better, thank you. I am Lindsey’s huge fan even if I’m one of the oldies, I love her art and her personality. You could not describe your daughter any better, for the eyes are the window to the soul; and my! she is such an angel in and out!

  4. Brent Taylor

    What was refreshing to see in Lindsey’s published reply, and found here in your words, was her acceptance of and declaration of wanting to be, a role model. As anyone who followed this subject over the years would ascertain, this is rare. Most in the public eye skirt this idea in the attempt to attach guilt to those who expect them to lead and to be responsible for their example. But Lindsey clearly knows, having made covenants to take upon herself the name of Jesus Christ and to publicly declare herself a member of His Church, that with success and therefore the number of those watching, that she can be powerful influence. That well beyond this being a cost of her success, it is a blessing and privilege.

    As your piece here describes, as she addressed in her second paragraph, at the same time our “feedback” reflects mostly upon us. We ought to be kind, never cruel, never demeaning; most judgmental of ourselves.

    More than being a model for modesty, my appreciation is for her example of accepting criticism, for being gracious, for being grateful and for being open to feedback. For truly loving her critics. No; she is not perfect. But how great it is to share this life’s experience with her; to bask in her talent that testifies of Him who created us.

  5. Mike Vause

    As a father of three daughters and a son, I recognize from experience, how painful critical words can be, particularly when they are directed at one of your children. Those who so quickly act to tear down rather than build up, for them I’m sorry. Your words are exactly what Lindsay needs to hear and will always help her recognize she has a father here on earth who loves his children unconditionally, just like our Father in Heaven. You are both great examples of what it is to be LDS. There will always be those who seek reasons to be bitter and unjustly critical. Oliver Wendell Holmes said: You can divide the American people into two groups; those who do things and others who sit around and wonder why they’re not don differently. God bless you both and thank you.

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  7. Vladimir Canales

    those are very true words Stephen, and i’m proud be to a fan of a person who believes so strong in god, and i’m so thankful that Lindsey is a such a goodhearted person,
    my prayers are with you and your family in these times.

  8. Craig Dimond

    Steve- I think all of us on the 70-71 crew of Hinckley Hall knew you were destined for great things! Congratulations on raising a talented and courageous daughter. I have fond memories Cris Lewis, Jim Hubbard, Jim Weipert, the Robinson brothers and of course that endearing oddball Steve Sterling. Hinckley Hall was a great influence on an uncertain freshman from small town Idaho named me. Thank you for being a good example, Craig

    1. Stephen J. Stirling Post author

      Is this Craig “Downhill Racer” Diamond? How awesome to hear from you! I’ve lost track of practically all of those ruffians from my first year of BYU. Wow! I’m so glad you checked in. And thanks for your kind words. Find me on facebook and keep in touch. I want to know your whole life story. Thank you again, my friend. Especially for the fond memories!

  9. Mark

    I was first introduced to your daughter’s talent when she won the Miss Gilbert title and went on to win Miss Arizona. Her talent was unique and she performed with passion and flair. It’s been fun to watch her evolve into the remarkable young woman she is today.

    I don’t consider myself a rabid fan, but I do enjoy watching people progress and grow. I’ve been very impressed with Lindsey’s authenticity and honesty. The way she responded to the criticism regarding her dress was so graceful and honest. I find Lindsey to be a breath of fresh air in a world full of pollution and hot air.

    Best wishes for you and your family in all your endeavors!

  10. Elmer Ping

    I have 3 grand daughters who are learning to play the violin. They are ages 12 to 15. They all look up to Lindsey and aspire to someday play as well as Lindsey.
    All of them see nothing immodest about Lindsey’s dress.
    They see her as a shining example of a daughter of God who is a witness of the Savior in every way.
    I join with them to only encourage and support Lindsey in her efforts not only to continue her outstanding performances that are upbuilding and inspirational.
    We all say with strong voice:
    “Keep it up Lindsey, keep it up and don’t falter!”

  11. JRM

    Very well done. What a loving comment to your daughter and a great reminder to the rest of us. As I have read the comments about her dress, I am reminded of motes and beams. But as you say, her eyes are single and full of light. Thanks, Lindsey for the great example of someone who follows the Savior. And thanks, Stephen, for reminding us to aspire to this as well.

  12. Tristan

    Wonderful thoughts about a wonderful young woman, Stephen. How lucky you are to have such a daughter.

  13. Keenan

    I met Lindsay when she and I worked at BYU Independent Study years ago. She had a sweet, kind, and sincere personality. I was taken aback by her dress initially but to write unkind things about someone because of a dress without knowing her is a sad reflection of our society. Further, I think also reflects how sometimes we, me included, can tear someone down and yet if I look at the mirror I realize I also very imperfect.

    Hooray for Lindsey for sharing her talents and her testimony with the world. Stephen, you have a wonderful daughter! 🙂

  14. SCGuy

    A dress. That is all it is: a dress. There is not one among us who does not remember a time, a moment when we were alive, young and daring, full of life. A little wild, a little crazy, a little daring….stretched to the fullest length the cord that ties us would allow us to go… at the breaking point.
    Few understand how difficult it is being a person of moral, religious conviction in the world of entertainment. The haters attack you like you are an animal. The immoral seek to claw you into the filth, the greedy shower you with gold and silver: but different than most professions: the high-levels of entertainment throw at ALL at you. And every minute of every day they make your religion seem like a curse, a pox, a weakness and a thing of ignorance & shame. Their lies speak volumes; their eyes are hollow and lifeless.
    Having touched the edge of this “industry” I know full well what Lindsey must face every day. I am amazed at her power. To her father I can only say: “Thank-you for your work.” For I am a father of 3 young women and I know the work it takes. The balance. The energy. The conviction.

    To Lindsey, if I could, I would say: “There is no questions of faith; there is only those who attempt to confuse the truth.” The truth is there to be seen: this Universe, the life we are granted; the miracle life on our planet. I am a man of science: that the Universe has a beginning and will have an end, placed in the context of the life one/any living cell, makes the reality of the Universe’s beginning and end very simple to understand: There is a Creator.
    As much greatness as we all acquire, as long as we never lose focus on how small and insignificant we are compared to Creation, we will never lose the spark that makes our hearts, and souls, beat as one. Never losing that spark IS what keeps us in the path of The Creator.

  15. Marianna Pugmire

    I love to see and hear Lindsey and she is incredibly talented and her choice to be in the entertainment world brings many challenges. I was disappointed in her choice of dresses and it reminded me of so many times as I was growing up that we were taught in Mutual to avoid the very appearance of lowering our standards. Lindsey is in a profession where it is difficult to stand alone and what this dress says to me especially since she chose a beige color to line it with that she made the choice to follow the styles of so many other stars and if she had lined it with a bright color I don’t think there would have been any discussion but choosing a color so close to the skin color was disappointing. She would have looked just as beautiful in a completely modest dress. It said to me that she wasn’t completely comfortable with standing firmly for modesty but attempting to be part of both worlds which is unfortunate. I also understand the feelings of a Father but the dress was so glaring in what it represented that it was difficult to see the true light in her eyes. I hope she has learned something from this and decides in the future to leave no question as to her standards but that choice in entirely her own.

  16. Wayne Alexander

    As a proven “die-hard rabid fan” of your daughter, your words here are spot on! I must confess when I saw “Dress-Gate”, I had to do a double-take (It’s like did I see what I thought I saw?…NO!) but it only took 5 seconds to know she was covered! I know Lindsey and I know the strength of her character enough that she wouldn’t break her creed of modesty! Like you said: “Seldom has there been so sincere, so straightforward, and so genuine an individual in today’s culture of entertainment”. This is the core of Lindsey! Its also one of the most appealing/defining aspects of what she creates!

    My initial concern was a little different from most people, in the fact that I had worried more about what her management team might try to push or steer her into. Of course, I know that Lindsey is the captain of the ship, and she will always go with her best judgement. For me the whole thing was really a non-issue because I know Lindsey. I just hope that management truly respects her like I have been told they do.

    Lastly, I wish none of this ever had come up, because it was supposed to be a happy time for her in winning a much deserved award; instead she has had to deal with this meaningless nitpicking. In a couple of weeks, I get to see Lindsey in person again (CAN’T WAIT!!) and I hope I can share my support in person! Still haven’t decided if I should bring it up or not, b/c in the end, all that matters is Lindsey is still the best role model , a beautiful daughter of God, and blessed with friends, family, and fans who love her very much! Her Light still shines brightly and influences me greatly every day! I really mean it when I say I pray EVERY NIGHT for God to watch over and protect her always! She means the world to me & I wish her continued success!

    Thanks for listening…..

    Wayne Alexander – (Lindsey’s Johnny Lingo wannabe 😀 )

    P.S. Just for the record, Lindsey could wear a potato sack and still look amazing to me! “Just say’n!”

    1. Cat

      Thank you Stirling Family. I know this is weeks past, but it popped up, so I felt a desire to respond. The real issue here is not the dress, it is us. I am sorry for us, for our judgement, our belief that we can be cruel or castigating to someone. Nothing has changed in my adoration of Lindsey. I loved the dress, I loved her head held high, her talent shining and the light she shines all the time.

      Thank you Stirling Family for giving us Lindsey.

  17. Ryan Jones

    Brother Stirling,

    What an amazing gift you have to so eloquently state the obvious, but do it in a way that teaches us still. I wish I knew you in person, and maybe some day due to the proximity of where we live (a few miles apart) that may happen, but for now I will enjoy this website and an opportunity to learn from you. Thank you!

  18. Darwin

    It appears that so many are tripping over themselves trying to appear “non-judgmental” that they miss the real picture: I recently reread Elder Russell M. Nelson’s statement that “real love for the sinner may compel courageous confrontation—not acquiescence! Real love does not support self-destructing behavior.” And as recently pointed out, this would first require judgement in identifying someone as a sinner AND it requires judgement that they are involved in self-destructive behavior. And yes, we should all read the Joseph Smith Translation footnote on Matthew 7 verse 1, where instead of condemning “judging” it states: “Now these are the words which Jesus taught his disciples that they should say unto the people. Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment.” Righteous judgement is based on covenanted standards we uphold in our church. The main message of the Savior was of repentance. And calling someone to repentance is an act of “real love”.

    So, in judging a righteous judgement out of love let’s look at what we know.

    I saw the dress in question and saw that it was tan material. My worry was that a lady who was a self-described recovering anorexic, defined as an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat founded in an obsession on APPEARANCE…was perhaps calling attention to herself in other unhealthy ways. The tan almost flesh colored material gave her plausible deniability, if she did it on purpose.

    A recent Uh…conversation on her Instagram account brought up the issue of her lack of modesty again. Citing specific instances which I myself can attest there IS documented evidence of.

    – She states she doesn’t wear garments while performing because she is like an athlete. But she does dress quite “skimpy”. Not wearing garments is one thing, dressing skimpy on top of that is something totally different. It was pointed that she had male backup dances a tour or two ago and they did not dress skimpy. And they were dancing too. So why then, must she dress skimpy? Why THAT choice?

    – It was mentioned that her nipples were prominent after a “bit” where her male dancers dressed her. I saw that video. It’s true. Why THAT choice?

    – I myself saw a YouTube copy of a Periscope video segment where after a show, she displayed her dirty feet, and then directly referenced her “crotch” and had the camera zoom on and focus on her crotch and the skimpy covering (fringe) she had for it. Why THAT choice?

    – CMA awards show performing with Deirks Bently, her dress is transparent from the waste down when back-lit and her crotch is highlighted. People across the country saw it. Why THAT choice?

    – Same thing at her performance with Celene Dion, although the back-lit crotch wasn’t as apparent during the broadcast, it shows up crystal clear in audience YouTube videos. Why THAT choice?

    – When she won her first Billboard Award she was wearing a skimpy jumper on the red carpet (NO performance…no sweating like an athlete) and she did vertical splits. In a jumper and black pantyhose. Highlighting her crotch. For a photographer. Why THAT choice?

    A pattern is emerging here where Lindsey Stirling is obsessed with showing off her body, especially her crotch, in immodest ways. Her Arena video was more sexual than any previous where she is dancing with Derek Hough from Dancing With the Stars and he is groping and, it was pointed out, basically dry humping her and he had her ear in his mouth. Why THOSE choices?

    – When taken altogether, in the realm of good choices and better choices and best choices, these choices are not even ON that scale. These choices beg the question: Did she study things out in her mind at all?

    For a lady who admittedly has an often times obsessive issue with her own appearance, in an unhealthy manner, how can these things be seen as anything else but a cry for help?

    Lindsey Stirling IS in danger.

    This IS self-destructive behavior.

    And, as Elder Russel M. Nelson said: “Real love does not support self-destructing behavior.”

    So instead of everyone patting themselves on the back for their enlightened non-judging, how about we instead get off our butts and try to help her. Prayer is a great place to start.


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