Over the next few days, my blog will be dedicated to “TOP TEN in 2010,” my look back at life in 2010. Somehow, I can’t seem to move forward. Stuck in the emotional aftermath of my daughter, Brooke’s, brain surgery, I find myself, quite honestly, drained. So, when I get to this point, I know I have to give myself room to process (which I do by eventually writing it all out on paper), rest, and lean very hard on God. Several situations rose during this intense period that challenged me even more. Not only did I have to walk through this very difficult experience with my daughter, it was the Christmas season, and with that comes “much to do,” i.e., entertaining, cooking, gift giving, family relationships, shopping, decorating, Christmas correspondence, etc. All things I love, but this year, seemed to become a bit much. I suppose I silently pride myself on my grand ability to cope, rise above challenges, look fear and difficulty in the face, and don pearls and lipstick through it all!
I am a performer, after all.
In light of all this, as much as I tried to keep “all things normal” for everyone else, my once-reliable coping mechanisms began to fizzle. I love Wikipedia’s (I know, as a writing teacher I prohibit overuse of this site) take on coping. It states, “Coping is the process of managing taxing circumstances, expending effort to solve personal and interpersonal problems, and seeking ‘to master, minimize, reduce or tolerate stress‘ or conflict.” It is a fact that coping skills change over time. Well, my time has come.
In a recent interview, ballerina Jennifer Ringer, criticized for her seemingly “un-ballerina-like” frame, helped me see how old patterns are still tripping me up a bit. Take a minute or two to listen to this insightful dialogue:
Jenifer helped me remember that I grew up on stage. My formative years were spent in front of mirrors, judges, and audiences. In my newest book project, Stay True: Know Your Identity in Christ and Fulfill Your Destiny, I write:
“Instead of finding my identity in my father’s reflection, dance and beauty pageants became my world and the stage a foster parent of sorts. Feeling right at home under the bright lights, without even knowing it my identity was being shaped by the affirmation and applause of man. Slowly, a web of human opinion entangled my soul, weaving an intricate pattern of pleasing others. Life became a cycle of standing in front of five judges who seemingly held my destiny. The truth is they didn’t. Unfortunately, this unhealthy pattern of pleasing others led me further and further away from my true identity, which can only be found in Jesus Christ. My staged self took over and the cacophony of voices crowded my thought life, ‘Lose weight, you’re thighs jiggle. Your evening gown looks like the upholstery of a sofa. Do something different with your hair. Study harder. Jog farther. Whiten your teeth. Sit with your ankles crossed. Wear red, it speaks of power.’ Years of listening to discord brought me to a place of complete exhaustion. The weight of the façade finally became too heavy to bear. Is this really what life is all about? Why do I feel so sad all the time? When the bright lights of the stage dimmed, the curtains closed, and the applause ceased, a deep sense of emptiness remained.”
The sad truth is that my foster parent, the stage, set a foundation of falsity in the foundation of my psyche. One which must continually be confronted, uprooted, and transformed by the powerful work of Christ. So, I have some work to do. I want to walk in the freedom that Christ has for me.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live life in coping mode. I want to truly enjoy every little second of every little minute God gives me.
Do you feel as though you have some work to do this year? Some uprooting of false foundations? false patterns of thought?
Let’s do this together. Join me over the next few days as we look backwards in order to look forward. First thing, grab a journal, a set of fancy, fun new colored pens, and your favorite tea or coffee. We have some work to do!
“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”