On Wednesdays, I’ve been telling another portion of my story,
which is really His story, of how He has authored my faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
Today’s story takes place when I’m 26 years old . . .
I read the church bulletin for the fifth time. It says the Creative Arts Ministry is holding auditions for an upcoming production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Auditions are today and next Saturday.
I walk inside the church and find the auditorium filled with people — both young and old — stretching their limbs and preparing for a workout. A professional choreographer (this is L.A. after all) begins to teach a dance routine. The rest of us are supposed to learn it and then perform for a panel of judges later.
While driving home, a blizzard of conflicted feelings swirl to the surface. I haven’t danced since I was 12. Not since my brother’s accident.
I once loved to move to music. When words failed me, which was often, music could reach me in ways nothing else could. I danced ballet for years and started dancing on pointe when I was 11. But a year later, my brother’s legs quit working, and I quit dancing.
Now, almost 15 years later, I’m wondering if it’s too late for me. Too late to dance again. Too late to dream again.
In the classic movie Chariots of Fire, the missionary-turned-Olympic runner Eric Liddell said:
When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.
I know exactly what he meant. Because when I danced, I felt God’s pleasure. But after my brother’s accident, I didn’t want to feel His Presence anymore.
When dreams die, your ability to enjoy life’s simple pleasures dies too. Life becomes mundane. With a cloud of gray engulfing each moment.
I take the church bulletin and toss it into the trash.
The week passes like normal. But the idea of dancing again won’t go away. So I look up the story of Joseph and his brightly colored coat. His brothers hate him for being their father’s favorite . . . and for being a dreamer who dared to believe the outrageous. Then his brothers betray him and sell him into slavery.
Yet, he works hard and becomes a trusted overseer in Potiphar’s household. But when he rejects the advances of his owner’s wife, he’s thrown into jail on false charges.
I feel like I can relate to Joseph. No matter what he does, things don’t work out for him. He’s misunderstood. Mistreated. Accused. Then forgotten about.
Eventually, Pharaoh needs a dream interpreted, and the cupbearer remembers Joseph in prison. God enables Joseph to help Pharaoh prepare for a pending famine. He even becomes second-in-command, next to Pharaoh himself.
The dream from his youth — the one where the sun and the moon and the stars bow to him — comes true.
It’s a great rags-to-riches kind of story. We all love to cheer for the underdog. But I’m still not sure I can afford to dream again, much less dance. It’s too risky.
Yet, somehow, the two seemed intertwined.
I wake up the following Saturday and question whether or not to attend the final audition. For some reason, I feel as though I’m standing at a major crossroads: Will I trust in the One who has so faithfully pursued me, even when I’ve felt so betrayed and abandoned and forgotten? Is it even possible to experience the joy I once felt on the dance floor? Will I dare to dream that He could restore all that’s been lost?
To step onto the dance floor, after so many years away, feels like the biggest leap of faith I could possibly muster. Besides, I don’t have the right dance clothes. Or the right dance shoes. And I have a four-year-old little girl.
This is just plain crazy.
But I know a number of parents are already a part of the cast. Including most of the church choir. And childcare will be provided.
I’m running out of excuses.
At the very least, I can do what I did last week. I can go and stand in the back. If I leave early again, who will notice?
So I drive to church.
The auditorium, however, has fewer participants than the first week, which makes it harder to blend into the crowd when there isn’t much of one. Then the choreographer begins with warm-up exercises, and I remember how much I used to like this part. The stretching and the balancing.
Some choir friends join me, and my escape becomes less plausible. But soon, I forget the others around me. After a while, it’s just me and the music and movement. This I remember.
I remember my first recital.
I remember my first bow.
I remember my first pair of pointe shoes too. The silky ribbon on the outside belies the hard reality on the inside. But it’s the hardness that allows the dancer to stand on her toes. While pirouettes and arabesques appear a mere flutter of grace to the outside observer, the dancer’s feet feel every bruise and blister.
A dancer must hide this truth.
The show must go on.
I also remember how the dance never ends. After I hung up my shoes, I continued through life — with smiles and façades — giving an illusion of grace and ease. But hidden within, the pain etched deep.
I continued this dance, without the satin shoes, for years too long. Then God allowed my circumstances to crumble around me. The pretty dance of life-as-I-knew-it ended. My stark reality remained.
Graceless me. A sinner. In need of real grace.
But here, today, a new dance begins.
And Grace envelopes me.
I bow low, surrendering to the One who knows me truest of all. I submit to His will for me. When the music ends, I rise to see a panel of judges spread out before me. I didn’t realize they were there. I had forgotten I was at church.
They smile and tell me they’d love for me to join their cast. They welcome me and say I’m the newest member of “Joseph’s family.” And I can’t remember the last time I felt so at home.
Have you ever dared to dream again?
Click here to read PART 9