I've spent much of my life being defined by what I do, by those I hang around with, and by the man I stand beside. And very little of my life has been spent focusing on my true identity.
Growing up I was a dancer, a ballet dancer.
In college I was a party girl… a wild child.
I got married and became his wife.
After I became part of corporate America, I was a career woman.
But I never looked at who I was when I had nothing, that is until these last few months.
When you have every false identity stripped away from you, suddenly you have to be defined by you.
I got married and was no longer allowed to dance, that identity was gone.
I got divorced and was no longer attached to a man, I was alone.
I lost my "corporate" job, I had nothing.
But the most powerful part about having nothing is the power that gives God to move in your life.
He forced me to be defined by Him, and nothing else. And as absolutely painful as this process has been, I am finding Him putting all the pieces back together again.
Let me give you some back story.
My entire life, from age 3 on I trained endlessly to become a professional ballet dancer. I even left public high school in order to have more time to pursue this dream. I danced 6 days a week for hours on end trying to perfect the art form. I became lost in it. I proceeded to go to Butler University to further pursue this goal and get even more training. Yet after my freshman year, I felt unsettled and unfulfilled. At this point in my life I was seeking God and trying to find myself on the right path again. After much prayer I felt God leading me to step away from my studies and pursue ministry whole heartedly. In doing so I felt a strong pull to go overseas to spread His message using dance. This was where I felt God was leading me. Shortly after this happened I met the man I would later marry. Shortly after we began our relationship, he became ordained by a missions organization. He would tell me lavish ideals about our future together: going overseas to do missions work, he would build houses and I would teach the young children dance. In my mind, God had me right where I was supposed to be.
But not long after this things quickly went south.
He made me quit dancing completely. He would tell me that it was a silly dream of mine and that I needed to grow up. He would tell me that dancing was something children did, and that if we were to get married I needed to start acting like an adult. What I later realized is that when I was dancing… when I was captivated in a studio pursuing my passion, he could not control me. But like the naive girl I was, I laid down all of those dreams and passions and walked away from dancing completely.
For years I wouldn't step in a dance studio again. It wasn't until the studio that I grew up at closed that I went back to take one last class in those studios that housed so many memories from my foundational years. You could take the dancer out of the studio, but you couldn't take the passion out of my heart. That class made me realize that what he made me do was wrong, so wrong.
But that didn't change the control he had over me.
I would try to take class whenever I could escape his hold long enough, but it was never enough. And when I would return, I was always met with anger… How dare I do something without him present. It became too difficult to fight the battles with him so once again I stopped dancing completely, and would simply teach whenever the opportunity arose.
That is until even that would become too much for him to handle.
He would have to approve of what I would wear to teach in and would ask me if any dads would watch, at one point he went as far as asking if he could come sit in the studio with me while I taught to assure that no other men were around.
My heart broke, because I knew that once again he would make it impossible for me to ever be in a dance studio again.
So on that life changing day when I walked out of his strong grasp for good, I knew I would eventually find myself back in a dance studio again. For me dance was my outlet, my release, my safe haven. When I was dancing, I was free. So I would take classes whenever my schedule would allow, and I trusted God to open doors for me if I was supposed to continue.
Fast forward to about 6 months ago…
I realized my career with AT&T was ending, and I knew I needed to pursue other opportunities. Naturally, I immediately began putting my resume out to teach dance full time. I have many connections in Indy with dance studios so I assumed I would be able to find something if the opportunities were there. But no doors really opened, and I felt myself becoming discouraged.
But once again I realized God was in control, not me… so I prayed and put my trust in Him and waited. Shortly after I received a career opportunity with an incredible company that would allow me evenings and weekends off. Yet still no doors were opening for me to dance again, or teach.
But God had bigger things in mind (doesn't He always?).
I had a small break from the time one job ended until the other began, and through a family friend I was able to take some fitness classes at the local YMCA. After the first class, and a very fast conversation I found myself being hired to teach dance one night a week at the YMCA. I got in my car and immediately found tears streaming down my face.
God was truly in control, I was not.
This was something that only He could've orchestrated. I was thrilled, and relieved, and in awe.
A few days after that I received an email that the dance ministry at the church I attend was starting back up, and I realized that I could finally be a part of it because my work schedule would allow it. The waterworks began again, and I realized that for the first time in my entire life I would be able to dance for God's glory.
I would be able to dance without having to impress people, but instead I could finally use dance as my worship.
It was as if everything was suddenly falling into place.
Not two days after that did I receive a Facebook message from an old friend of mine who I used to dance with. She felt as if she was being led to begin a dance ministry in the area, and she wanted to know if I would be a part of it. Her vision aligned perfectly with mine… using dance to restore and repair the broken.
And even more powerful was that her end goal would be for us to eventually travel overseas to spread His word through dance. I couldn't wrap my mind around it, and to be honest I still can't. To be able to teach, as well as be a part of two incredible DANCE ministries… but even more so to be surrounded by strong women in faith who share the same passion, that is what amazes me.
So many times I've wanted to give up, to leave dance behind completely. To settle with singing in my car as my means of worship. But God had other plans. I know He didn't give me the talent and passion I have for dance to be used for selfish pursuits, or even to impress crowds of thousands with my technique and tricks.
He gave me this gift to reach people where they are. And He's given me these opportunities so others can reach me where I am, in my brokenness.
I find myself in awe of His plan, and in awe of being beautifully out of control. I am finally completely content floating along, knowing He is guiding me every step of the way.