What’s behind a photo...?👓👓👓👓
This photo shows the external image of me at 17 years old, as a senior high school ballet dancer at University of North Carolina School of the Arts. I carried this headshot around attached to a resume while auditioning for professional ballet companies in the US. What you don’t see from the picture is the inside story.
I had intertwined my performance and success as a dancer with my value as a person. I handed over that power to decide my value as both a dancer and a person to anyone in authority to make decisions about my career. Even further, I allowed virtually everyone around me to dictate how well I was doing as a person in general. My life was an emotional roller coaster, some really high moments when approval came from others, and many very low moments when criticism came flying my way. All of them I read as value statements of my entire self. It was an exhausting way to live, and my escape was solitude, where I could put a pause on any outside examination and just be. That resting place in solitude saved me, and although still confusing for many years, eventually would be a rich ground of spiritual discovery. A slow process of encountering God on the inside began. He was fully aware and compassionate to every part of my story. Unconditional love and complete acceptance from within was deliverance from the way I had been living. 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
It was almost ten years after this picture was taken that I awakened to this peace and truth, with much suffering along the way. And from my vantage point now, thirty years later, my experience is the greatest story I know. It’s my story, I walked out every step of it. I felt every emotion and twist and turn. It’s as personal as personal gets, and there is much of it I could not articulate even if I tried. It’s that deep knowing that you can only have if you have walked through something for yourself!
I had inklings of clues along the way that something really great was coming. Some came from my safe place of solitude. Some came from art, nature and beauty. Some came from people who spoke into my life in a kind of weightiness that is unforgettable. All of this journey has been supported and nurtured through practices of bible study, prayer, yoga, tai chi, and meditation. Years further in have established me in hope that carries me through each day now. This hope is not the frivolous wishing upon a star definition used so frequently today, but the original biblical definition of confident expectation in the faithfulness of God right now!! I know His work from the inside, and now I am enjoying the reality of being intertwined with Him.
I have embraced and loved every part of that 17 year old girl. All her fears and insecurities are accepted and allowed to be just what they were, then and now. There is, oddly enough, a way to love all these parts together. It’s what I was seeking so much: an understanding of my own secure place in this world while also having the freedom to express myself in my own unique way.
Each of you are in the middle of your own unique story. Yours is no less great a story than mine!! No matter where you find yourself this very day, God is walking right there with you! His way brings about restoration to the broken places inside of you, while recovering all of you and your story into one of true beauty. I encourage you to look inside with hope. God is there.