Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Lessons from Joseph

You saw the photos.

I had a blast being in that show. I felt so light, so filled with joy and leftover adrenaline walking into church on Sunday morning…that I just started crying. And couldn’t stop for the rest of the service. Makes no sense, right? Really, I’m not an emotional gal.

What comes next is intensely personal. I promise it’s all good, though, and I share it in the spirit of praise to God for unexpected work in my life.

So I’m crying in church and asking God to show me what’s going on, and I see myself like a hollow chocolate Easter bunny, with a shell made of something more like flint. And God’s hammer comes down and breaks the shell, and inside, there I am--living, breathing, moving…and dancing.

And I knew instantly what that shell was about. It was constructed of labels that started piling up in junior high: stiff, clumsy, awkward, ugly, clutzy, uncoordinated, unlikeable, locked up, ungraceful, unattractive, can’t fit in…and the big one: fear of looking stupid.

That fear controlled me all through high school, I think. It made me stick to safe areas, like academics and music, which I excelled in. It was a HUGE thing for me to leave the pit orchestra and try out for the school musical my senior year. But my main memory of that show--The Wiz--is thinking “I probably look stupid. And stiff.” Which I honestly probably did, with those thoughts in my mind all the time.

The cool thing is that during rehearsals for Joseph, I somehow was having such a good time, or have matured enough to ignore those voices, that I really wasn’t aware of them—even in front of an audience. I didn’t feel nervous, I didn’t feel worried…I think part of me accepted that I was probably going to look like one of the few old ladies on stage, and that was okay! To me, it was only about having fun.

But I got more out of it than that, and that’s where I praise God. It’s as if, without even being aware of it until it was all over, I had faced down my inner demons and proved them wrong. “Mom!” Blondechick18, always direct, exclaimed after the show, “I thought you said you couldn’t dance!”

Not clutzy—pretty coordinated. Not stiff--relatively graceful. It may have taken me longer to learn the dances, but I did learn them and perform them--with a smile. And I fit in fine, even though I was older than most of the cast. And I didn’t look stupid….

Even when dancing on top of a tiny stage above the heads of the rest of the cast! When I saw the pictures my husband took at the last dress rehearsal, I couldn’t believe how conspicuous and yes, stupid, I thought I looked. Why me, twenty years older than all these graceful young girls, some of them trained dancers? At first I thought it was the height that bothered me; then I practiced and practiced alone on that podium to overcome that, and I realized it was more about the restricted space. Harder to be graceful in the small area, where I had less room to turn; more chance that I would bobble and look stupid. But each time I had to get up on that dumb box, I just swallowed hard and did my dance with a smile on my face and as much grace as I could muster, and I survived. And now I think it wasn’t the height or the small area, it was a God-thing, a growth opportunity, to face down that fear—of looking stupid--and literally dance on its grave.

So I am thankful. Even though I did hate every minute up there.

On Sunday morning, I became simultaneously aware of all those yucky feelings from junior high and high school, and of the fact that those lies had been smashed and replaced with truth. What joy! It’s not often that you get to go back and re-write your script. (Ooo, the perfect metaphor.) But this time the story had a happy ending, and I just couldn’t contain the emotion.

When I decided to audition, I felt I was following a leading from God. But I never expected healing to come from being in a community theater production. I am so grateful to God, and also to the other women in the cast who accepted me…and helped me learn to dance!

From The Message, Psalm 51:

What you’re after is truth from the inside out…
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
Set these once-broken bones to dancing!

1 comment:

Matt said...

wonderful photos and thanks for posting such personal stuff that God is still touching/healing years later. Looks like y'all had a lot of fun performing Joseph.