In all of the years I’ve been dancing, I have never had a season where I have learned more about dance and myself in it, than this last year. Unfortunately, it has come out of a season of injury. This has been a difficult season to navigate through in the natural, but what the enemy has tried to steal, kill, and destroy, God has turned into a time of great discovery.
I have danced since I was 4 years old. I have no memories of a life without dance (except when having babies). As a result of a life woven into a beautiful tapestry of dance, my identity has been intertwined with dance as well. When I cannot dance, I feel incomplete. However, what I’ve recently been processing with the Lord is that my identity is not that of a dancer. When God looks at me, the most significant thing He sees is not that I am a dancer. The most significant thing to Him, is that I am His child.
I am much more than dance. Within me is the convergence of two realms – Heaven and earth contained in one body. I am His child and a vessel of His Spirit. Since God is love and I am made in His image, I also am love and a dispenser of that love on this earth. Dance is only an expression He has given me to shine forth my true identity. The problem is when we confuse our identity with theexpression of our identity. This has been one of the biggest things I’ve learned in this season and to be honest, was hard for me to come to terms with. Who am I if I’m not dancing? Who are you if you aren’t doing the things that have become a part of you? God doesn’t define us by what we do, but by who we are.
Looking back over the 24 years I have taught ballet, I have found a common thread among injured dancers. They complain more about their frustration with not being able to dance, than they do about the injury itself. They express how fragmented, out of sorts, and discouraged they feel when they’re unable to lose themselves in the movement of dance. And that is in fact what happens to dancers - we blissfully lose ourselves in the freedom of expressing an inward reality.
You see for those who only watch dance, they may not understand that the physical aspect of dance is only a portion of what is happening. For us, body, soul, and spirit harmoniously articulate themselves through the language of dance. As worshipers who dance, it is an especially deep experience. It is a language of love, a way for us to shine forth what He is saying & doing, and what we are seeing & experiencing. But when that expression is suppressed, we can feel off balance. We have become so intertwined with this expression that we confuse it with the deeper foundations of who we are.
In seasons when we have no outlet for dance, (no studio, etc.) or are physically restricted, we should embrace these seasons as allowances for strengthening our foundation in Him. I believe that when we aren’t able to express ourselves through the gifts He’s given us, it is a good time to make sure the gift is still as pure as when He gave it to us. A season where we cannot dance is the perfect time to lay this gift at His feet and allow Him to purify any area that has been tainted with mixture of any kind. And the only way to know if it has been tainted is to ask Him. We want the waters flowing with purity in order for them to have their full intention realized. I also encourage every dancer to take at least a couple of weeks off each year for these same purposes.
Expressions of love can become automatic – done out of a habit instead of an overflow of experiential love. When this happens we are exhibiting the clanging symbol symptom. (see 1 Cor 13) It is so important that we walk every day, every expression, with constant awareness of our Source –of His love as the foundation and center of what flows out.