Picture a little girl tugging on her mother’s shirt because she didn’t want to be late for her first day of dance class. The eager, excited, nervous little one was ready to dance. She was ready to become a star! She was already a star; after all, she had danced around in front of her bedroom mirror many times before. And put on dance productions for her mother, jumping and stumbling around the living room. If you haven’t guessed, yes this clumsy, lanky, long-haired little girl is me!
Dance has always been a passion of mine. Ever since I was a little girl I loved movement. I loved the way that you could make your body twist and turn, I felt like I was flying. As I got into high school I became more serious about dance, I took more classes and spent more time in the studio. It was a tiny group of girls who I danced with, but no matter how annoyed we got with each other we were a family. I loved going into the studio, I couldn’t wait to perform and get on the stage, and I couldn’t wait to learn. But then it all changed.
I started to question if dance was something that I really wanted to do with my life.
There is something that many dancers don’t talk about, it’s called COMPARISON!!! The dreadful lie that makes you feel like you are not good enough, you are worse than all the other dancers around you, you don’t like looking at yourself in the mirror, and you always stand in the back while learning a combination. This became me; I let the lies flood my mind. I hated being put into the front for combinations, I absolutely hated when we did leaps across the floor, and every time one of my teachers gave me feedback I felt like the worst one in the room. The worst part about this whole struggle was that dance was becoming less of something that I loved to do and more of something that I had to do. I started to question if dance was something that I really wanted to do with my life. I started just showing up for my friends and skipping when I didn’t feel like going. It was my life, and I didn’t need dance anymore.
When I went to the Summer of Dance in Montana, I remember sitting in the classroom hearing them talk about dance in worship and how it’s a powerful thing. I had danced a few times growing up in church, but I honestly thought it was pretty silly. It seemed strange to me not having something choreographed and just coming up with movement. At the end of class, the teacher put music on and said, “Ok your turn, worship God through your dancing.” I was terrified. I was not going to come up with random movement, I wasn’t sure how to do that if I wasn’t a choreographer. Then I started thinking, “look at all the other girls – they’re so much better than I am at dancing. No thank you, I will just sit in the back and worship like normal.”
Dance is an expression of who you are, and what you feel.
That day God asked me some questions, “Monica, why do you dance?” I answered, “well, because I love it.” God said, “how does it make you feel when you dance?” I responded, “it makes me feel free.” Then He spoke these words so clearly to me: “Monica, I have given you a voice, not one that comes from your lungs but through your movement. I want you to speak through your dance. Monica, dance is an expression of who you are, and what you feel, not an imitation of the teacher’s movement. When you dance you’re telling a story. I have made you to dance the way you dance, not like anyone else.”
I know I would have been lost without dance because it helped me to express myself through some dark times.
Dance is this story we get to tell through our bodies. We can express what we are feeling when we have no words to speak. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if you’re the best of the best or have the longest lines or the best turns – how you feel when you’re out there performing and telling a story is the same exact way you should feel when you’re in front of that mirror in the studio or wherever you are. Even though I had a season where I lost my passion for dance, I know I would have been lost without dance because it helped me to express myself through some dark times. The struggle with comparison didn’t disappear overnight, but I’ve finally discovered my passion again and now I dance for God and not for people. I feel God has called me to touch people’s lives through dance and to speak the truth that comparison has no place in the studio.
Are you passionate about dance? Or have you lost sight of the reason why you dance? I want to encourage you not to let comparison get in the way of your passion. Think about how great it would be if we could all dance without comparison!