We Danced

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In our high school athletics were very important. We all took phys. ed. Everything from volleyball to badminton, cross country and weight training. 2-3 to days a week you were sweating alongside your classmates, enjoying all the benefits of what sport brings. Every December, to take a break from the norm, our high school offered a different kind of phys. ed. It was such a tradition that we tried to get out of our other classes, just to partake in more than our weekly routine of physical activity.

Every December we danced.

We did everything from traditional Russian dancing (I seem to remember something about being horses?), to the Scottish ceilidh and country line dancing from the bottom parts of the south of the USA. We learned to waltz, polka, whatever we could learn, we did. Then, just before winter break we had a school wide dance.

That day was my favourite.

As much as I loved all the learning, the actual classes, especially when we had to partner up, were hard. You see, I was the tallest girl in my class, for a LONG time. Standing at more than the average 5’5″ (165.1cm) at 12 and combined with a severe lack of guys during my gym block, we often had to pair up with girls, so I had to take the lead. Or, I got paired up with a guy who was so afraid to lead (because we were what 13, 14,15 years old) that we either ended up doing nothing or looking foolish. So when we had the school wide dance, I actually got to dance with a guy, lead by a guy who knew what to do. I loved the moments of being lead.

It’s funny what we believe affects us later in life. From such an early age I already had to learn to lead my own life. Okay, so this is just one example of circumstances in my life which made me take control of my life. There are probably another five pieces I could write on other circumstances which shaped the woman I have become (for better or for worse), but this…this one sticks out.

Dancing.

I guess it’s because I am not a fan of feeling foolish. I mean, who is. Who wants to look a bit dumb or make a mistake in front of people. Not exactly a trait many of us carry. Dancing is far more than a physical act. It is a metaphor for life. We take steps to the left, to the right, we go backwards and forwards. We are spun inwards and outwards, lead by our partner in what, over a song becomes a story, it is a journey which makes up a beautiful narrative. When we try to lead (when we aren’t supposed to), then the dance gets mixed up. Two people cannot lead. There must always be someone who follows. Or, if the one who leads, isn’t stepping up and taking the lead the path is full of stumbles, not as elegant and getting out of the missteps takes more time. The story isn’t as a beautiful, as graceful. A lot like our relationship with God.

BUT, allow me to take detour for a moment. Just for the sake of a good metaphor.

Dancing is a lot like dating. The dance of romance. Say what you want of equality, the man should take the lead. It isn’t the equal division of tasks that makes dating and eventually marriage equal, it is the equitable and efficient division of resources. Like a dance, when we have true equality, when the man leads, when he writes the story and the woman, putting her trust in him, follows, a beautiful story is written. When both focus on the same goal (glorifying God) then the dance has a purpose and a focus.

Oh wait, much like dating, God is trying to romance us…funny how this is all working together…

Today when I go to take dance lessons I can find it difficult to let the guy lead. I have been trained to take the lead, mostly out of necessity and practicality. Recently I was taking salsa lessons with a few of my friends. There were a few men there and I found myself really loving dancing and getting into the groove of things. With two of the say five guys that were potential partners, I rested safely in their arms, dancing away until I was drenched in sweat. When it came time to change and I was put with a man who wasn’t secure, one who didn’t have my best interest at heart, who didn’t focus on leading, the dance was awkward and generally never properly complete. The guys that I could trust were who we can liken to God. Strong, understanding of the journey we are to take, foreknowledge of the ending and aware of the steps we need to take to get there.

The men who were insecure, who hadn’t read the steps, who weren’t comforted by experience are much like when we take the lead in our own lives…stumbling, blind and without hope.

There’s a song by Bethel Music. It’s called We Danced. It’s a ballad, a worshipful song of the dance between ourselves and God.

You steady me
Slow and sweet, we sway
Take the lead and I will follow
Finally ready now
To close my eyes and just believe
That You won’t lead me
Where You don’t go

When my faith gets tired
And my hope seems lost
You spin me round and round
And remind me of that song
The one You wrote for me
And we dance

The last few months, heck, few years, have been a struggle to say the least. A struggle by human eyes, but to God, a beautiful dance.

Like Joseph in Genesis, God has turned what was meant for evil in my life and made it for good. Instead of fighting the lead that God was taking in my life, I have learned, some days, some hours begrudgingly even, to allow Him to lead.

Praying to hear his voice. Asking for wisdom. Training myself to hear, to feel when the Holy Spirit is gently pulling on my heart to go one way or another, either physically or in a decision.

When my faith got tired, and when my hope seems lost (even today), I am in training to become one of the best dancers the world has seen. I am never going to be a ballerina on a world’s stage, or a hip hop dancer in a music video , but instead, I am going to dance my way, even through the missteps and the turns and twirls with the one who has always captivated my heart. With my Lord.

Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is [always] the same, yesterday, today, [yes] and forever (to the ages). Hebrews 13:8

Are not two [j]little sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s leave (consent) and notice. But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, then; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31

He invited you to dance, invited you to be part of a beautiful story, one that will be filled with less than desirable moments, but you will always know you’re safe, safe in the arms of your beloved.

When the Night was Total Darkness

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I won’t lie, I still watch young adult TV all the time. For me, watching television and film are one of the few ways I can completely switch off my brain and relax. It is my often my escape.

I follow the TV show Switched At Birth and have since it’s pilot episode. It covers a lot of topics, in the messy way that real life happens and I enjoy it. Sure, it’s still television and therefore reality is often suspended, but nevertheless, it is as close to life as possible.

Yesterday I tried to watch the latest episode, which came with this warning:

Tonight’s episode contains story lines dealing with sexual consent. Viewer discretion advised.

I am 31, I can handle it. Right? Except, not…because there were triggers.

The episode revolved around Bay, one of the lead characters, waking up next to a man (she knew) without remembering anything from the evening before. Her memories came only in short flashbacks and understanding how she ended up where she was that morning. 10 minutes into the episode I had to stop.

You can read more about the episode and the issues covered here.

You see, it’s been almost 4 years so I did not think it would affect me.

In the Autumn of 2011 I was invited to a party. It was glamorous, rocking and filled completely with 99.9% people I did not know. The evening began fine. Partying with my “date”, a girlfriend I brought with me, meeting famous and semi-famous people and enjoying the crazy atmosphere.

It must have been around midnight when it all went blank and I woke up past 9am the next morning, in my bed, no phone, no clothes and no memory of the last 9 or so hours.

To this day I remember only flashes of that night. What I do recall and what still often haunts me is the day after. It was the darkness that enveloped my spirit and more clearly my mind. It was the fear of the unknown. It was the inability to recall little more than trying to get into a club, trying to take money out of the bank machine and standing with police. Everything I could remember felt like it was happening in one of those really bad dreams where you can’t wake up, but nothing is really clear either.

It was all that came out of that night’s events…the worry of maybe having been raped. To this day I still feel like I could vomit at the thought. Luckily, I was safe and nothing happened to me. I ended up speaking to the cab driver who got me home. I realised through that conversation that I had been drugged.

Me, the good girl. I had been drugged and it was my fault.

It was in the aftermath that I dealt feelings of guilt, moment of anxiety, fear and frustration. It took an already clear inability or fear of vulnerability to an entirely new level.

I am not writing frivolously, not for attention…I am writing to give a voice, or maybe to add a voice to the many out there that are scared to speak.

You may not have been drugged like me, but there is a day or night, a time of your life that was cast in darkness and you may still be struggling with the effects or how even to get out of it.

For me, it was first and foremost my faith in God that, through time, enabled me to work through the issues that arose from that night. What I am now grateful for is that all I went through enabled me to grow as a person. It was also those around me, who I trusted to tell (and not many know), who showed me who I was and how this was not a reflection of me. You are not your circumstances or that which has happened to you.

You, the person reading this, whose stomach is turning in knots right now, whose eyes are filled with tears. Tell someone. Talk. Know you are valuable and worth being treated as a human. You have the right to feel whole and free.

If you feel you can’t tell someone around you, tell me…you are valuable.

A different kind of me

So, it’s January 26th (I think?) and today I’m writing about my new year’s resolution.

My journal for the year, the personal one, the one that is filled with inspirations, doubts, dreams, broken promises and resolutions is sitting near me. On the first page it simply states “I figure, if a girl wants to be a legend, she should go ahead and be one”. Calamity Jane everyone. A legend.

Every year I take some time to refocus, give myself a word or two to focus on for that year and then write some goals around those. What does my relationship with God, my health, my career, my family, friends and love life look like in context of all this.

This year my words were simple and interlocking. They’re my words, but they all came with an overarching question over them.

Is what I choose today going to affect what I want tomorrow? Will my today negatively or positively impact what I want long-term?

I am blessed. I have people around me who love me. I know that sounds cheesy or maybe even prideful, but these people who love me, why I consider myself most blessed, is that they challenge me. They challenge me to be a better woman, person, friend, daughter, employee, worker, ME.

One of the best questions I was ever asked was why I allow myself to do things, or allow things to happen to me, which will inhibit the woman I am becoming, the person I want to be.

That struck my heart…probably at that moment mainly because they were asking me about relationships and my apparent inability to trust men. Fabulous right? Not so much.

Anyway, that question stuck with me and has slowly, over the past year buried itself deep and began to blossom into what has now become my 2015.

There is nothing particularly spiritual about this post, though it does affect that part of my life. There is no major scientific studies around what I am doing. It is simply a question…

Is what you are choosing now going to affect your future positively or negatively? 

It’s in every decision, every action, every mood or feeling.

If I choose to go to work out or not.

If I choose to sleep because I am tired or not.

If I choose to date that guy…or not.

If I choose to have coffee with that person or not.

You see, rather than spend the moments, the money, the time, the resources, I have chosen to invest them (thanks Andreas).

I am never going to be a help to anyone if I am not the person I am supposed to be. My daily decisions, your daily decisions should be ones which you and others will get a return from.

So, ask yourself this…

What choice am I making?

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A New Level of Trust

I often hear the term “oh, I am waiting on God”. Actually, not only do I hear that term, but I myself have said it, numerous times, in context of anything from a relationship to a job, to any kind of answer for which I feel like I cannot control. I see it all the time, plastered across numerous blogs, preached in sermons, and most importantly even in the Bible.

In fact, every morning, at 9:55am I get a reminder flashed on my phone:

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

It has long been a topic on this blog about allowing God to take control.

Even recently I wrote about having a trust without borders and the lessons in peace and humility that allowing God to have control brought. However, it was not until I was spending time with an amazing friend in NYC that our discussion led to a new and deeper understanding of God and his timing.

You see, in January I strongly felt that God was telling me to stop even considering my next steps and to simply (not so simple) take each day and allow myself to do well with what was in my hands. Whilst I accepted this and as you can read in my post, learned many valuable lessons from that time. Funny though, because just 6 weeks after writing this post I began to get a bit antsy. It was only when I went to NYC and hung out with C that I began to understand what God was trying to teach me next.

10626453_10152435093227091_4653617695945005897_nC and I had not seen each other in years, but as only true friends can, we picked up where we had left out. It was in this discussion that God spoke to me. At first, difficult to articulate, I later came to understand this.

My child, you tell me you trust me, you make all the effort to do what is asked of you, but you still give me timelines.

It hit hard, the realisation that although I gave God my every day, it was with the subconscious understanding that he would provide when in my time. For me that meant that as I finished my thesis, I would go to a few interviews and miraculously I would have a job before the end of summer. Funny thing, our timing, it is rarely, I hasten to even say, never God’s.

Now, while God continually and faithfully provided for me from June to October when I finally got my full time position, it was not in the manner I saw coming.

Do you not believe, live in the complete understanding that I love you so much that I want to give you my very best. I see the desires of your heart, the longings of your soul, I put them there. I love you enough to keep you from that which will not be my best for you.

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. Matt 6:33 (AMP)

It is much easier to say you will trust God for a spouse until you are in your 30s and you see your body adding hair in places you did not want.

It is much easier to trust God for that job until you are dangerously close to running out of money.

It is much easier to trust God for that new apartment until you have just bought another one and you have not sold your first.

It is always easier to trust God on our terms. For me, it used to be hard to trust God in even the small things…but as we grow, as we mature, God allows us to be stretched and grow. It used to be that I would take a job just because I was worried I could not pay the bills. This time, I trusted and I waited on Him…and again, he showed me His love in beautiful and even outstanding ways.

I guess what I am trying to say is that…

Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice. Isaiah 41:10

Allow your trust in God to stretch you further, wait on Him…the answers will come…it may not be as tangible as a house, or a husband, it may be a lesson in understanding your purpose, your place, your destiny…

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

so worth loving

A few months ago I stumbled upon a clothing company and brand called So Worth Loving. For many years I have had it on my heart that men and women should know the value that they hold. I think it started out at a young age when I was in gymnastics. I was 5. I met a girl there who had never been out of Canada. You can ask my parents, at 5 years old I’m pretty sure I’d been on a plane more than I could count. This beautiful girl had not only never been out of Canada, but never out of our province or on any kind of plane, train or long haul bus. Her parents said to my dad “when we go on holiday we don’t want to take the kids; we need a break.” I remember looking at my friends eyes and thinking that she looked a bit hurt.

I can’t judge those people and their motivations, but I do recall thinking that they didn’t really love their kids. They probably did but to a 5 year old who was adored and taken all over the place, that wasn’t love.

Growing up I was not only told I was loved but understood in the actions portrayed by those around me, that I was valued, loved and precious. My heart sinks when I see people around me who, through no fault of their own, have not had value placed upon them. So, when I came across soworthloving I was ecstatic and really wanted to get involved.

About Eryn (from soworthloving.com)

Before I founded So Worth Loving, before I had ever thought of customizing t-shirts or realized I could empower people with a simple message, I was just a little girl in a small town where everyone had an opinion of who you should be. As the youngest of three girls, I saw the struggle to meet the impossible standards for success set by the media and reinforced through peer pressure; but I also saw the strength that can be drawn from the support of your family and people who love you. Years later, it was that same support system that encouraged me to spurn conventional wisdom and pursue my passion for music, which ultimately provided me with a platform to spread this positive message. Struggling with the unfair expectations put on you is something you don’t have to do alone. And So Worth Loving is a community of people dedicated to spreading that message and helping empower people to pursue their dreams.

Eryn Erickson | Founder
So Worth Loving, est. 2011

So, now I’ll not only be blogging from Beyond Rubies but also contributing to this AMAZING movement too. Hope you will join me.

xx michelle

Click here and here for links to my first few posts.