I was in the attic looking for baby clothes and stumbled upon a special box. You may know the kind. Stacks of papers, books, pictures, old diplomas, and letters. The kind of box that should have a sign saying, “don’t open unless you have an hour.” I found a magazine from high school with a poem I had written. The poem had won an award, and I remember being embarrassed that it was published. I wrote it thinking only my teacher would see it, not wanting to share it with the rest of the school. I’ve always been a deep thinker and have always loved to write, but until recently, I’ve never really known how to be me! It wasn’t cool to write poems like this at 16. A sure way to scare off the boys and make people think you are weird!
In the past few years, I’ve had the joy of seeing women celebrating who they are and the gifts God has given them. I have a new Bible study teacher who introduced herself as a “self-proclaimed nerd.” She said she loves reading and writing and the inner nerd in me cheered! She is someone who sees and uses her gifts the way her Creator intended. She is beautiful and brilliant. And by not holding back or playing small, she serves those around her.
A good friend of mine spoke recently about using our gifts. She said when our gifts meet our Maker, something really special happens! She’s the kind of person who gives others permission to shine. Whatever we do, we do for the glory of God because it’s all about Him. I love this quote by Marianne Williamson “We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.”
When we insult ourselves or play it small, aren’t we insulting our Creator? I have these teeth that I feel stick out on the top row of my mouth. You’d probably agree this is ridiculous, but we women are hard on ourselves. As I drive by that cosmetic dentist billboard in my path, it confirms this imperfection and I wish they were straighter or that I’d worn that retainer…but wait a minute. My Father gave me these teeth and put them exactly where He wanted them…what I am saying about Him when I think that? I am going to smile BIG because I was made in His image and I reflect His glory! That is worth celebrating, not wishing to change! The world says we all need to look like barbie; God says we just need to look like us. That He made us to reflect Him and He’s an awesome Creator! We all reflect His glory in different ways! And when we’re freed up to celebrate instead of hide our gifts and give them to Him, we are freed up to celebrate them in others as well.
We have all been given a gift to show who God is. I saw a picture of this a few months ago when I was helping my friend Katie with an event for women at the Downtown Rescue Mission. I asked friends to bring flowers and put them in vases on my front porch. It was so touching to see how eager people were to help! They all picked flowers attractive to them…some white, pink, florescent, bright, soft, wild, from the garden, from the field, from the store…not one flower was exactly like any other. Just like us! The kingdom of heaven is inside each woman and God has made all of us unique and beautiful. Because we are each different, we put God’s creativity and love on display. The world says we have to look the same. I am thankful these flowers didn’t get that message!
So, what’s your gift? What are your passions, talents, interests? I bet you have a lot! I do too! And like my Bible study teacher, I love to read and write. But somewhere along the way, I stopped doing that. Because somewhere along the way, I stopped seeing me as special. And it became easier to blend in rather than to stand out. I have never wanted to be anyone else; I just didn’t know how to be me.
Until God breathed new life in me…He saw me on the sidelines, came over, reached out His hand, and asked if I wanted to dance again. He showed me how! And when I follow His lead, it’s graceful. So…here’s the poem about the Dancer. I think of that song I liked in college…the lyrics say, “Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance…and if you get the chance to sit it out or dance…I hope you’ll dance.”
I am by no means a great poet! This mama hasn’t written a poem in 15 years, but today I wrote another one; “The Answer” to “The Dancer.” It sounds more like a rap than a poem at the beginning and definitely has some off beat rhythm, but I’m choosing not to sit this one out…“If I made you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand….SHINE (Matthew 5:14 MSG).” I’m dusting off my pen and dancin’…because God has made this fun again…and more importantly… “The Dancer” is in major need of a sequel! Please stick with me till the end!
THE DANCER (written by Katie in 1997)
Every night I lay me down
And sometime between today and tomorrow
A tiny dancer spins from my body
To toy with my joy and sorrow.
She dashes away to a different world
Taking my soul, I know not where
But somehow she knows how to set it free
To do everything it may dare.
There I swim the seas of danger
As my ship of safety sinks
And my fear vanishes and shrinks.
There my bottled hope explodes
As no limits line the sky
for nothing can stop me, or clip my wings
Or tell me I can’t fly.
My passions are like horses
That break from their reigns of the day
And they run like children, wild and free
With nothing to stand in their way.
Imagination swallows my consciousness
In this world the dancer takes me
There are no limits, no rules or boundaries
No logic to what I see.
In this world, my soul is freed
Cut from its leash, flown from its cage
I cannot stop it, so I lie and watch it
Pour out all love and rage.
But the dancer dashes away with my soul
As an ending comes to the night
And she places it back into its shell
As I awake with the morning light.
Confused I have so many questions
But she flees without an answer
How, I cry, do I break these chains?
Why can’t I be the dancer?
THE ANSWER (written to Katie in 2014)
My dear child,
to you I’m wed,
you are so hungry
and I’m your bread
Please let my words
have their way
inside your heart and head.
You are more precious
than you dare know
Your sins, my love, are
are as white as snow.
You are my beloved bride
cherished and true
so don’t you hide!
I’ve come for you
I’m at your side.
I’ve given my all
for your protection,
oh sweet child,
won’t you please,
just look in my direction!
I have good news for you, my friend.
I died so that you never will
Freedom is found only in me
just know that and be still
I am the light of the world
I’ve come to shine on you
so that your blind eyes
will soon see
and then they’ll shine anew
All your desires are YES in me
I’ve come to set the captives free
and that means you too,
Oh, my sweet Katie.
To break the chains that hold you back
I’ve got a plan for you, my dear
but first you’re going to have to search
and come up short
everywhere but here.
First you’ll have to fall on your knees
come turn the dark off, help me please
I am broken, I can’t fix it,
Jesus save me, it’s you I need.
You see, my child, it is finished,
all you need is already yours…
When I died on that cross
I had you in mind,
When I rose from the dead,
grace was yours to find.
I am your light, your gate, your way,
your truth, your resurrection,
your life, your vine, your everything,
your shield and your protection.
I’ve come to give you life to the full,
and joy in all your days
I’ve come to bring you home with me,
To stand condemned in your place.
Can’t you see, my dear
I offer endless love and grace,
so you need not ever fear,
I’ve come to meet your deepest hope,
And bring you to wide open space…
I love you with a perfect love,
I’ve come to be your answer
I DIED FOR YOU, MY PRECIOUS CHILD
SO YOU COULD BE THAT DANCER.
You did it: you changed wild lament
into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band
and decked me with wildflowers.
I’m about to burst with song;
I can’t keep quiet about you.
God, my God,
I can’t thank you enough.
(Psalm 30 11-12 MSG)