Ballet is something near and dear to my heart. I spent 12 years of my life in class and on stage. I miss it more than I can say.
Anybody recognize Sebastian the Crab? Oh, maybe not without the claws. Trust me, the claws existed. I just wasn’t wearing them. Or how about a little Colors of the Wind, with too much makeup and a silly brother who may hurt me for this picture? It’s amazing that I still remember the songs that matched the costumes.
And finally, because I don’t want to continue boring you with my reminiscing, here is a Lady in Waiting.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t always so dedicated to the world of dance. In fact, I didn’t get serious until a couple of years before the end, which meant I wasn’t nearly as good as I could have been. Much to my later regret, I fell into the dreaded trap of peer pressure. You see, I was part of a… let’s say… rebellious class. I don’t know if most of the parents just forced their daughters to attend or what, but the class jokers would take over and everyone else was supposed to be distracted and laugh. It became particularly awful when we got old enough to start dancing en pointe, which was my favorite way of dancing. But, did I admit my love for pointe to the class clowns? Of course not! It was during this time that I received the nickname, “Pavlova”, after Anna Pavlova, the famous Russian dancer. But, don’t be fooled. This nickname was meant derogatorily. I was considered…shall we say… “uncool” because I was apparently abnormally skilled at putting on my pointe shoes. Dancers will understand that the proper way of putting on pointe shoes is an art in and of itself. It was a silly unwritten rule in our class that the first one with their toe shoes tied was a loser so no one wanted to be the loser. I cannot possibly explain how much time we foolishly wasted trying NOT to be first. When our teacher would walk in to see if we were ready yet, we all pretended we were still tying our shoes. This sounds utterly ridiculous but it gets worse. I specifically remember one day we took so long that we never had enough time for the actual class. That was the low point, pun intended.
I’ve been trying to recall what flipped the switch in us and made us actually start trying and taking dance seriously. I think it was a combination of the class clown quitting and the rest of us joining with another, much more mature class. It pains me to think of the skills I lack because of my tremendous fear of what other people would think of me. Dancing is freedom to me. Freedom of expression and freedom of self. And I was a slave to others, who didn’t care a bit about me.
I’d love to say that my mindset has changed, but sadly, it hasn’t. I still have the same, overwhelming fear of how other people view me. I am a slave to people instead of to God. I have honestly never really grasped what it means to truly own the fact that I am God’s child. His perception of me should be the only perception that matters to me… ever.
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." - Romans 12:2 (NIV)
I am loved by God. Do I just hear that so often that the full weight of that statement escapes me? Admittedly, I have been following the pattern of this world, but always with a longing in my heart for something better. Something that would set me free. Something I have always known but too afraid to grasp.
Perhaps the most disturbing portrayal of bowing under pressure from others is found in Mark 15, Verse 15.
"Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barrabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified."
Can you imagine participating so fully in the death of the Son of God simply because of pressure? I can. I do it every day. Every moment I care more about what other people think of me than what Jesus thinks of me, I hammer the nail a little further. I smash the crown of thorns a little harder. Every moment that I hold back the personality and expression that God has created in me, I spit in Jesus’ face. Oh, my heart aches to write these words!
I am slowly, painfully realizing just how much I have allowed others to influence me and how much self-loathing I have allowed into my heart. How can a child of God be so utterly wrong about who she is? I’m sure there will be other posts as I continue to crawl out of this pit. As I slowly, painfully, remorsefully clean and kiss the wounds I’ve caused in my Savior. I cannot wait until the day I no longer care what other people think of me, I can wear the name, “child of God”, and even “Pavlova”, proudly, and I no longer have the ache of self-hatred and fear in my heart. I cannot wait to dance in freedom with Jesus. It’s Friday now, with all of its darkness and chains. But I see a glimmer of light and I cannot wait to dance on Sunday!