There is something magical about the trained ballerina. She is elegant, long, beautiful. She moves with effortless fashion and ease. She is graceful and composed.
The ballet world. This was a world in which I once lived in, more than half my lifetime ago. Not that I was all those adjectives previously listed; but I sure aimed to be. Five to six days a week I trained and stretched and wore out my toe shoes. I was there for class every day after school, and often on Saturdays, too. I loved it. I wanted ballet to be my permanent life. I was consumed by it.
I wanted to make a career of ballet, but there was an ever-growing tension in my home. No matter what it cost me, I wanted to be a professional ballerina. And yet my Mother was deeply opposed to the idea. She believed that ballerinas didn’t make much money, they were overworked, they often struggled with body image, and were sometimes placed in vulnerable situations. Not only that, but ballet, performed over a span of years, was hard on the body. We butted heads about the issue for several months. I kept praying and trying to convince her it was a good idea. But it was no use. Her opposition held just as strong as ever.
I remember writing in my journal, praying and wrestling with this tension as a teenager. How could my Mother not see how much I loved and needed ballet? Why could she not just give me approval in this one area of my life? I was headstrong, but I was also very much wanting my Mother’s blessing for my future career. So the inner turmoil raged on.
In the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school, I flew to Mississippi to join a three week long intensive Christian ballet workshop. I danced my heart out, made friends, and had a wonderful time. At the end of the workshop, I waved a sad goodbye and flew back home to California. But I soon discovered that something had changed. Actually, there had been a huge change in me! I didn’t need ballet anymore. I didn’t even want it! Somehow I felt totally free to move on from it– which was a completely foreign concept at the time. How could this be? I didn’t know, but I never went back to ballet classes or rejoined the ballet company I had been part of. I packed up all of my beloved ballet gear into a box, put it away in my closet and shut the door.
There was no logical explanation for this transformation in me except that the Lord literally plucked an idol out of my life.
So I walked away and never looked back. And I am so grateful.
In hindsight, I’m so glad the Lord listened to the prayers of my Mother, and not to mine. There is nothing inherently wrong with being a ballerina (the problem was with me, not ballet). Dropping ballet meant that I was able to devote more time to school and follow the pathway to become a nurse. I can think of a hundred reasons as to why I’m much better suited to being a nurse than a ballerina, and even though I don’t work a ton these days, it is a profession that I love and that has given me useful, practical knowledge for everyday life.
The Lord recently removed another idol from me (coffee), and the freedom I feel from giving up something as seemingly simple as coffee happens to be enormous! I’ve learned that the Lord both gives and takes away– and sometimes, the things He takes away are actually curses disguised as blessings. In the end, I have received a multitude of blessings by having these idols stripped away from me. When our lives are completely entrusted to Jesus, there is nothing but peace and joy!
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)