Nutcracker, Part II

I JUST wrote about how great a storyteller God is, and here I am already with another piece of story to share. You cannot make these things up (well, actually, I totally could, but I'm glad I didn't!).

The story starts a long time ago. I wrote a bit about it in this post about how I feel about The Nutcracker. Obviously, God is doing some major housekeeping in this heart. My feelings about ballet have been a jumbled mess: bitterness cobwebs, boxes of joy buried deep in the crawlspace, righteous anger stuffed behind rubbermaid tubs full of a dancer's grin-and-bear-it decorum, wells of sadness. Yesterday after reposting my commemorative post on my life changing accident, I said to Brendan, "Do I seem like I'm just hung-up on old news? Am I obsessing over something that I just need to get over?" "NO! Not at all!" he answered. "Well, it seems that way to me..." But, here's the thing: that life change happened 12 years ago, and I'm pretty sure I spent the first 6 years just trying to survive it. The next 3 or 4 were spent trying to tell myself it was time to be over it without ever having explored how to grieve. It took 10 years for me to be able to start really looking at the whole thing, and it is only through regular counseling sessions (that I began to attend for help dealing with the current disruption of my illness) that I am finding how greatly effected I am by it all- as in daily effected. I use this analogy a lot because I think it is so true: ballet and me as ballet dancer were like a major influential person in my life- like a special aunt, teacher, or sister, and losing ballet was like experiencing the death of that person. I struggle to give myself credit for that loss because it wasn't really a person, and I guess I behave as though only some kinds of losses deserve compassion. But, I need compassion. The moment my body hit the floor, I knew I needed compassion, but I began steeling myself against that need. Deciding not to be needy works for lots of people. It worked fine for me for a long time. Of course, "works" should be in those quotation marks because I don't think I was able to be fully myself. I worked some things out here and there (ALWAYS in connection with spiritual growth through the work of the Holy Spirit through his Word and his people), but I did not try to engage the work of healing. Rather, I tried to tell myself that healing wasn't required.

I know this all too well now: you never quite know how sick you were until you start to feel better. I remember being in the third grade and having a cold that I was trying to fake my way through during the holidays (probably so that I wouldn't have to miss any Nutcracker rehearsals). I had a bad, scratchy cough and was in the back line of my little Christian school choir performing some songs for an elderly bunch at a nursing home. I was miserable, and I recall thinking, "What was it like to feel well?" I looked at all the other kids who were managing to sing while I tried not to gag-cough all over the row in front of me, and I just couldn't picture what they were feeling like. I think this memory stands out to me because it was one of those times as a kid that you realize something that you know you need to carry along with you. I wanted, when I was well, to really be glad that I was well. Having been sick now for a few years, I don't remember what well really, really feels like. I see it on other people and it conjures memories, but I can't remember it viscerally. But, I had a couple of weeks during the summer when my symptoms improved and my beloved methylphenidate was supplying some clarity and energy, and I realized then, "Wow, I have been really sick." Thus with the ballet stuff: once I started admitting that healing was required and started unpacking everything I saw that I have been a mess!

Writing out my feelings, about Nutcracker revealed to me how much I really love it. I honestly didn't know. I didn't know that I had more love and joy over it than depression and animosity. Just expressing through writing my conflicted heart was like cleaning out that closet. A wealth of joy was hidden behind just a few, though large and intimidating, boxes of pain. And today I learned that people are willing to help me with my boxes! (I should have known...)

So, here's the story:
A few days ago I posted a mini-version of all this sentiment about The Nutcracker on Facebook and confessed that I actually would truly love to go enjoy it. I only could enjoy it fully, I feel, with my children in tow. My children are my lenses through whom I see things afresh, and that is what I need: to see the Nutcracker like I did when I was a kid. So, I started looking for tickets for my family of 5 to attend the show only to discover that there is NO WAY we can afford to go- especially during the holidays. I followed up my mushy post with a somewhat defeated post about how pricey it all is (we're talking $500+ for my family to sit in good seats). Here's a confession: I was really, really hoping that some PNB contact of mine would see my plight and be able to help somehow. But, after a few days and no bites, I just told God that if he wanted me to go, if he had business for me in that theater at that show with my family, that he would give me tickets. I felt total peace in surrendering my heart to the Lord. I was excited to see what he might do, and I was relieved to know that if I shouldn't go for some reason that I was being prevented. God did not work a miracle; he used his people. Sometimes he does work miracles when they will help his story, but mostly he just uses us. More than one person who loves the Lord decided to love Him and to love me by pooling money for our family to go to the show. And we are sitting in the ROLLS ROYCE of seats! All these people are incredible.

Here's my favorite part in this story: Today was the first Sunday of Advent. So, what did we learn and talk about today? The Light. My pastor preached about our opportunity and privilege to live in the Light- to be a community that chooses to bring each other into the Light and genuinely love each other. What a joy for me, a doer, to be a receiver today! Not to say that I'm not given much, but just to say that I'm more likely to be bending over backwards to help than I am to be asking for or accepting help. I feel the Light, people! And I had a week of fighting darkness. This pregnancy is doing a number on me so far, and I have been battling physical weakness and pain as well as spiritual distress and fear. A dose of kindness goes SO FAR.

Even more than the tickets and the opportunity to begin my life as a joyful ( I hope!) ballet patron rather than participator, as extremely meaningful as that is, the great prize to me in all this is knowing more of God's love and feeling that love through his people. God. loves. his. people, people! And so do I. Today I learned that a lovely woman (this is your shout-out, Elizabeth) whom I really just barely know, has been loving and blessed by my writing here to the point that she reacted in love to my plight. What a joy to me to have this outlet of writing when I feel locked up in so many other ways! I can't be the hostess I once was. Heck, I can't even carry on a very long conversation anymore! BUT, once again, God has his own ways of writing the story. I have spent time feeling guilty at not being able to reach out hospitably to this very woman, and yet God was allowing us to get to know each other anyway. She, and so many others, are doing exactly what we heard about today in worship and are bringing me to the Light. Thank you to all of you who are sacrificing some extra holiday cash to help me! I need your compassion, and I'm so grateful for your responsiveness to the Lord. I love you very much.

You KNOW there will be a follow-up post...

And one last thing, Bethany Robbins. This TOTALLY reminds me of you coming into town for my 6th Day Dance performance. What wonderful people God's people can be when they walk in the Light.

I hope Advent is filled with hope for all who wait on Jesus, and I pray that you would see him for the first time if you have not yet. This is a story you want to be in!

Nutcracker- Part III

Happy Thanksgiving