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Last weekend I took part in a conference for my church youth group called CFC-Youth. The theme was centered around the Wedding at Cana, when Jesus turned water into wine as his first miracle. We were taught to recognize the ways in which Jesus had metaphorically turned our water into wine — our times of hardship into something new and beautiful. We were also taught to heed the instructions of Mary when she said, “Do whatever he tells you”, or in other words, to obey with reckless abandon. And finally, we were encouraged to be attentive to the ways in which Jesus exposed himself to us in our daily lives, which suited title of the conference: “Jesus Expo”.
It was this “Jesus Expo” moment which I wanted to share with you now, the part of conference that stood out to me most. (If you’re curious about the conference, check out #TNC2013 and #JesusExpo on Twitter!).
MY “JESUS EXPO” MOMENT …
My “Jesus Expo” moment happened where I least expected to find it: in a contemporary dance.
To give you some background on myself, I used to dance A LOT (I danced for Praise TEAM who, by the way, won a gold and silver medal this month at Hip Hop International — yes, I am totally promoting them right now LOL). Although I usually did hip hop, I had a little bit of experience with contemporary, so it made sense when the organizers asked me to do a contemporary dance for the CFC-Youth conference.
The problem was that they asked me to be the main character.
I HAD MANY RESERVATIONS …
For one, I hadn’t seriously danced in almost 2 years, so my technique wasn’t as strong. But more bothersome was the fact that I was completely out of my comfort zone. Yes, I danced in the past, but this wasn’t my primary mode of self-expression. This dance went against my very nature. I was always so collected, contained, and composed, yet this dance demanded me to be free — to open up and convey a message through bodily movements; to trust and to commit myself to each move in an organic fashion rather than being so calculated all the time. It was hard for me. I cried after my first practice because the experience was so damn scary; even a simple extension of my arm made me want to shrivel and close up.
I was also doubtful of my anointing. I kept feeling as if they had chosen the wrong person for this dance. I already knew that I hadn’t originally been their first pick; I felt as if I had been selected by default, since the “ideal” dancer (my best friend) couldn’t do it. I knew in the back of my mind this wasn’t true, but I still felt it . I was perpetually afraid that they would be disappointed in me because I couldn’t live up to how “she” would have danced it. After all, she danced more often than I did, and it was a lot more ‘natural’ for her to give herself freely, to lose herself in her movements. I wasn’t the same. But I knew I couldn’t give them “her”, even if that was what they wanted. I could only give them me. And I seriously doubted if that was good enough.
And finally, I hated being the main character — for anything, really. This wasn’t just “stage fright”; it was deeper. It reminded me of the last time I danced on stage with Praise TEAM before quitting, which happened during my clinical depression. It was vivid to me … how ugly I felt on stage, how badly I wanted to hide from the spotlight, how unworthy I felt to be looked at … It reminded of the reason I had stopped dancing in the first place. This whole situation felt so ironic. How could God put me through this again when he already knew how badly it had made me feel?
It reminded me of the ways in which I was still broken. Pains from the past, anxieties about the future, uncertainties of now. Never had I felt more vulnerable. But I did it anyway.
THE VICTORY …
Repeated practices eventually decreased my negative feelings as I worked on perfecting the dance. By the time conference rolled around, I was ready to perform.
But it was in the change room, as I was switching out of my shirt into my contemporary costume, that the gravity of it struck me once more. It just so happened that the very shirt I was changing out of was the shirt I had worn on my last dance performance with Praise TEAM before quitting — the one I wore during my clinical depression. The theme of our dance at that time was ‘ambition’, so we wrote down our ‘dreams’ onto our shirts as costumes. I wrote the word ‘happy’ … not because I had nothing better to write, but because I really, truly, deeply meant it. In the midst of my depression, to be happy was all I wanted.
But here I was, doing it all over again, performing on stage for others to see and doing the very thing that once tore me apart when I wore that shirt. But this time was different. This time I wasn’t wearing that shirt . I was changing out of it in place of a new white dress. And more significantly, I had changed. I still had insecurities, but despite it all, I was genuinely happy.
I was in awe. It became apparent to me that this was my ‘water to wine’ story. This was the miracle Jesus had made in my life. My old shirt, along with the negative memories attached to it, was my water. But this new dress, pure and white, along with my newfound happiness … this was my wine. Suddenly my attitude changed. I no longer asked myself, “How could I do this dance?” but rather, “How could I not?” How could I not offer my talents to praise the One who had created such beauty in my life? It was a privilege.
Before performing on stage, as I waited in the wings, people gave testimonies about how God had turned their brokenness into something beautiful. I was hit with another realization: that this dance wasn’t just my love story with God. It was the story of the other 500+ people in that room. We all had these ‘water to wine’ stories. All due to the same God.
THE PERFORMANCE …
The performance itself was quite bizarre actually, far from perfect. Literally, the moment I walked on stage, the toes on both my feet cramped and stayed that way throughout the entire dance, ending abruptly once I finished. This had never happened to me before! I seriously wondered whether I was going to make it through the routine without falling, contemplating whether they’d restart it if I fell. But I fought hard not to fall, telling myself I couldn’t disrupt the flow of the program. It was painful; a contemporary dance with cramping toes always is!
As you could probably guess, my mind was distracted, buzzing with a million thoughts. I definitely wasn’t “in-the-zone” as I’d hoped to be. But midway through my dance, I began realizing something: that although I felt like i was going to fall, I still hadn’t fallen. That was a miracle in itself — that somehow, despite the ‘paralysis’ of my toes, something was keeping me moving. It was the perfect representation of my relationship with God; that although things were never perfect, He always sustained me, carrying me through when I (spiritually … & physically) couldn’t.
IN SUMMATION …
We are all broken in some way or another. But it first takes emptiness to be filled by Christ. It first takes emptiness to experience miracles. When we do, Christ truly fills us to the brim, as he did at the Wedding at Cana … so much that we overflow with love and have no choice but to share it.
WHERE ‘YOU’ COME IN …
What’s your ‘water to wine’ story? What’s your “Jesus Expo” moment?
Feel free to share in the comment box below. & Please don’t hesitate to share this blog if you feel it’s worth sharing! =)