Monthly Archives: April 2009

Lessons in Bowling

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a team building offsite with our team from work.  We went bowling.  I love to bowl.  According to my baby book, after the typical ‘mama’ and ‘dada’, my first words were ‘bowling ball’.  That doesn’t surprise me much.  Other than dance, bowling was the only thing I really enjoyed growing up.  My dad was a bowler, and he taught me how to bowl.

Although I loved it, I never put much time into it.  I started bowling in a league at an early age, but I didn’t go and practice much.  Other than my three games on league day, I only went bowling every once and while for fun – usually with friends.  The last time I bowled in a league – about five years ago – I averaged 165.  That’s not great, but it’s not bad for someone who never practiced much.  I enjoyed bowling, but I had other things that I chose to spend my time on.

Though I didn’t spend much time trying to get better, I did care about doing the best I could.  Over the years, I’ve learned my strengths and weaknesses in bowling.  I’ve never had much upper body strength – my strength as a dancer has always been in my legs.  Because of that, I have never been a power bowler.  My high games came when I was picking up my spares.  I was a finese bowler.  I knew how to pick up every spare imaginable.  Don’t get me wrong, my body and mind didn’t always work well together.  Just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean that you are always able to execute that knowledge.

I remember bowling one night about six years ago.  I was bowling in a women’s league, and we bowled four games each Friday night.  On this particular night, my first couple of games were really bad.  I was frustrated because I couldn’t figure out why I was struggling so much.  As I began the third game, my arm was tired, and I knew that I would have to pace myself to get through four games.  I had a great thrid game.  During the last couple of frames of the thrid game, I realized why I was doing so much better.  In the first two games, I was trying to throw as hard as I could, hoping that it would result in more strikes.  That threw my focus off, and I wasn’t able to pick up my spares.  So I was trying to be a bowler that I wasn’t.  When I slowed down, my focus returned, and I was bowling to my strengths.

I had an ‘aha’ moment that night.  At that time in my life, I was really starting to realize that I had lived most of my life as someone I thought everyone expected me to be.  I’ve have spent the years since then trying to find my true self – the person God created me to be instead of the person my environment in the world had influenced me to be.  In order to find the peace and happiness that I longed for, I would need to be myself.

I was reminded of that lesson when I went bowling a couple of weeks ago.  A gentle reminder to play to my strengths.  Over the last five or six years, I have learned a lot about myself – about the gifts and talents that God has given me – about the unique person he created me to be.  Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget that in the pressure of society.  I have found myself trying to recreate myself into what I feel others expect me to be.  I know that God created all of us as unique individuals – an amazing reflection of his creativity.  It’s hard, though, to live in a world that seems to want everyone to be the same.  Everyone needs to fit into a certain mold – differences are misunderstood and often rejected.

But I have been reminded of the unique daughter that he created me to be – that in order to ‘bowl’ my best game, I need to use the strengths I know I have and not try to do what works for others.  I have a specific calling, and only my set of gifts and talents will fulfill that calling.  It’s my own personal ‘bowling’ lesson.

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Singleness

In service last Sunday, our pastor mentioned Proverbs 13:12 – Hope deferred makes the heart sick. This stuck out to me because I had recently read that verse and had been thinking a lot about it. I read it in the Message translation, though, and that had been even more powerful to me. It reads, “Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick.” I can’t get that out of my head. I’ve been struggling with some stuff in the last year or so, and ‘unrelenting disappointment’ just seemed to sum up what I’ve been feeling. There are a few areas of my life that term could cover, but the one that creates the most heartsickness for me is the fact that I am single.


I’m 34 years old, and I’ve never been married. In fact, I haven’t really had that many relationships in my life. The longest I’ve dated someone (at least consecutively) was eight months. For a good portion of my life, I was totally okay with that. I’ve always wanted to be married, but when I was in my early and mid 20’s, I really couldn’t see myself being married. I knew I wasn’t ready. When I was 28, I had a very short lived engagement, and I had really thought that I was ready to get married. God didn’t. I can see now that it would have been a mistake to get married at that point, but ever since then, the struggle with being single has become stronger and stronger in my life.


In the last couple of years, it has become something that I hate. I know all of the benefits of being single, but I am done with them. I’m tired of going home alone. I’m tired of feeling like I don’t have anyone to talk to when I need to debrief. I’m tired of feeling like 99% of my life goes completely unnoticed because I have no one to share it with. I’m tired of going to sleep in an empty bed.


Don’t get me wrong – I completely understand that marriage will not be perfect. I am well aware of the fact that there will be days when I will wish that I were still single. But being single sucks. I am ready to trade in the benefits of being single for the struggles of being married.


The area I live in is mostly young families. It has been very hard to connect with other single people. Recently, I got some of the singles from our church together. We are trying to do something together once a month. There are not very many of us, but I’m hoping that it will help with my struggle to know that other people are out there who struggle with some of the same things.


There have been several times in my life when I have felt that God has confirmed that I will be married at some point in my life. I have held onto that hope for so long, but I am at a point where I feel like I have experienced ‘unrelenting disappointment’ in that area. It is so hard to be around married couples – especially those who have been married forever and have no idea what it’s like to be single. I don’t want you to misunderstand. I love my married friends. I completely realize the benefits of being with them. Sometimes, I just wish they could understand my struggles a little more.


It is so hard to watch couples kiss, hold hands, and put their arms around each other when I’ve experienced that so few times in my life. Even worse than that (at least for me) is when a couple sneaks away to ‘talk’ or debrief something. That kills me because I have been struggling so much with feeling like I have no one who can listen to me. When something happens – good or bad – very rarely is there someone available to listen to me. So I get the concept and need for that time, but it’s so hard to watch as a couple goes to another part of the house or leaves for a little bit so they can talk to each other, but I have to hold everything in when I need to talk because there’s no one there. It would be different if my desire wasn’t to get married. But that is the desire of my heart, and it sucks to be living the exact opposite.


The second part of the Proverbs verse says, “…but a sudden good break can turn life around.” I feel like I have been waiting so long for that ‘sudden good break’. It becomes very difficult to hope that it will ever come when the ‘unrelenting disappointment’ is so overwhelming.


During service, I kept listening to the message, thinking that there would be some help. There were several references to the first part of the Proverbs verse, and I kept waiting for the reference to the second part of the verse. But it never really came. What do you do with the ‘unrelenting disappointment’?

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More Amazing Grace

“I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see.”

I have heard these words so many times in my life. They are words that everyone has heard at some point, regardless of where you stand on faith and God. Even after all of the times I’ve heard the words, I’ve not really thought much about them.

In my preparations for choreographing, I spent a lot of time really listening to the words of the song. That’s how I choreograph. I want my movements to tell the story of the song or help to convey the message. In order to do that, I have to really know the words of the song and the message that God intends for me to convey.

These words really struck me as I was listening to the song. I’m not really comfortable with the words ‘lost’ and ‘blind’. They are things that I don’t want to be. When I have to drive somewhere new, I do everything I can to make sure that I have very detailed directions. The thought of getting lost creates fear and panic for me. I have gotten lost before, and I have discovered that I am very good at getting ‘unlost’, but I still would rather not get lost in the first place.

‘Blind’ is another word that makes me uncomfortable. I have never experienced blindness on any level, but the thought of it scares me. I wouldn’t want to be without my sight.

But I think the words go beyond just ‘lost’ and ‘blind’. Those words probably make a lot of people uncomfortable. I don’t think I know many people who would choose to be lost or blind. They are fitting words for our lives before we establish a true relationship with God. I also think they are fitting words for our struggles after we establish a true relationship with God. I think if we limit those words to our lives before our relationship, we are limiting God’s amazing grace.

I have been in true relationship with God for over ten years. It has completely changed my life, but I still have struggles and I still find myself lost at times. I have felt that way recently, and it is not a fun place to be. My first instinct is to avoid or ignore it. Maybe it will just go away. But the words of this song have a different meaning for me now. I am not truly ‘found’ unless I have been ‘lost’. I do not truly ‘see’ unless I have been ‘blind’.

Life is not always joyful. If it were, we would never be able to truly enjoy that feeling. It would be too normal and mundane. We have to experience the sorrows in order to truly experience joy. So, although it is not fun to be lost, if I were never in that place, I would never know what it felt like to be found.

I have been trying to focus on the anticipation of being found – and in that I have found hope.

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Amazing Grace

I am currently working on some choreography to Chris Tomlin’s song ‘Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone’ (listen to song above).  I will probably write multiple posts regarding this song.  I can vividly remember the first time I heard this song.  It was during a church service a couple of years ago.  I remember thinking that it was the coolest version of Amazing Grace that I had ever heard.  I was going through some tough things at the time, and this song is the only thing I remember from that service.

About six months ago, I was listening to my IPOD at work, and this song came on.  I had listened to the song quite a few times before, but on this particular day, I started hearing God tell me that I needed to dance to this song.  In the months since then, I have made excuses to not dance.  Then, about three weeks ago, I started hearing the song all the time.  Everytime I was in my car, the song would come on the radio.  Everytime I would listen to my IPOD (which is always on shuffle mode), the song would play within the first three or four songs.  It was clear that I needed to start choreographing something to this song, and I started looking for an open door to actually use the dance.

A couple of weeks ago, I had plans change one Friday night, and I ended up having dinner with someone from my church.  I knew this person, but I hadn’t really spent much time with her.  We had a great time just getting to know each other over dinner and ice cream.  I found out that she liked to dance, and we talked quite a bit about dance as a form of worship.  At one point during our conversation, she told me about the Bible study that she helped lead at the church on Monday nights.  They were doing a study on worship and were thinking about some different things they could do for the last night of the study.  She talked with the person she leads with, and they asked if I would be interested in dancing on their last night.  I knew right away that this was the song I would use.

I know that Amazing Grace is a classic hymn, but it has never been one of my favorites.  The words are great, but I think it was always one of those songs that I heard too many times.  Of course, it didn’t help that the song was a popular funeral song.  I don’t know if that was a ‘Catholic’ thing or not.  I grew up in the Catholic church, and Amazing Grace seemed to be played at every funeral.  There have been a lot of different versions of Amazing Grace, and I haven’t really liked any of the ones I’ve heard.  Until this one, that is.  I don’t know why this one is so different for me, but I can listen to it over and over and not get tired of it.  Part of the reason for that is because of the added parts of the song.  It starts out as a typical Amazing Grace rendition, but the chorus is an awesome addition, and it means a lot to me personally.

As I continue with my choreography, I know that those words will sink deeper and deeper into my heart, and they will mean even more to me.

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Entitlement

Belief that one is deserving of certain privileges.

Growing up, I was taught – not always intentionally – that I didn’t deserve much of anything. I felt alone, unwanted, and unloved for most of my life. I’ve struggled with asking for help because I shouldn’t need it, and I’ve struggled with receiving (gifts, compliments, help, love…) because I feel so undeserving. Over the past few years, my confidence has grown, and I have learned a lot about myself. I still struggle from time to time with feeling undeserving, but I have gotten much better at receiving. The sense of entitlement, however, is still a foreign concept – and, honestly, I hope it stays that way.

I was recently promoted at work. It was actually considered a job change by the company rather than just a promotion. Because of that, everything had to be handled ‘properly’ through HR. So my supervisor had to actually post the job listing on our website. Due to the nature of the job, she was allowed to only post on the internal website. I then had to officially apply for the position and go through the interview process so my supervisor could turn her notes into HR to prove that I was indeed qualified for the position. Only when I was officially offered the position could she remove the job posting from the website. This process took a week to complete. So the job posting was open on the website for at least six business days.

There are people in our company – at least on our floor – that look at the job postings on a daily basis. Some are looking for more money, some are not happy in their current positions, and some just want a better ‘title’. Whatever the reason is, I was fully expecting there to be other people applying for this position. Even though I knew the position was mine – it was created specifically for me because I was already doing the job – I started to question whether I really deserved the job in light of how many other people could apply.

Not only was this a job that was created for me, I kept feeling that God wanted me in this position. I even stepped outside of my comfort zone and approached my supervisor to ask if creating this position would be a possibility. Once everything became official, I learned that no one else had applied for the position. I was really surprised since so many people look for these types of job postings on a daily basis. It was pretty clear to me that God wanted me to have this job. I’m sure he knew what my response would have been if anyone else had applied. I would have never fully believed that I deserved the position.

A few days after I was officially hired in this position, my supervisor informed me that there were a few people from another department who were upset that they didn’t have a chance to apply for the position. The supervisor of that team asked if my supervisor had actually posted for the position or if the job had been just handed to me. My supervisor did everything by the book, and she had no explanation as to why no one noticed the posting during the six days it was open. I know the answer to that, but it’s not something I will share with my supervisor or those who wanted to apply for the position.

Apparently, those who wanted to apply have been at the company longer than I have, and they feel a sense of entitlement to a position of higher title and pay. It was not surprising to hear that because we have people on our own team who have the same sense of entitlement. They believe that since they have been here for the longest, and they do the minimum (bare minimum) of what is required of them, they should be promoted. I have been promoted fairly quickly in the time that I’ve been here. Within our department, we have three levels of employees (associate, intermediate, senior); then the team leads (my current position); then the supervisor. We have a lot of intermediate employees who literally are demanding to be promoted to senior. I have a really hard time listening to them talk about it because that is such a foreign concept to me. I can barely believe that I deserve the position I have much less demand to be in a higher position.

But that sense of entitlement is so strong in our culture. What surprises me even more is how strong it is even among Christians. If Jesus didn’t have a sense of entitlement (which is a given considering he gave up his place in heaven to become one of us, suffering on the cross to die for us), how can we ever believe that we deserve more than what we have right now?

On the other side of that is where I struggle and need to grow – if God gives me something (and all things come from him), who am I to argue that I am not deserving? That has been a major point of emphasis in my journey of faith. I know that it will probably be a lifelong point for me, but I have hope in knowing that I have come so far in the last few years.

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God’s Sense of Humor

I like to laugh.  I am drawn to people who make me laugh.  Because I am wired as a very analytical person, I have a tendency to take myself too seriously.  I rely on my friends to remind me to laugh. 

Laughter is mentioned in the Bible, but we don’t read much about Jesus sitting around, laughing with his friends.  But I’m sure he did because God has a sense of humor.  I wonder how often my anxiety over the little things causes him to chuckle, knowing that I will eventually realize that I had nothing to be anxious about.  I can just picture him laughing at my reactions to some of his humor in my life.

In the past few years, God has been working on getting me to trust my ‘gut instincts’ a little more.  I have always had very strong instincts, but I would usually dismiss them.  I think it was because they weren’t really logical most of the time, and I was taught that everything had to make sense.  I’m doing better with trusting my instincts, but I still fight the urge to just dismiss them.  It’s been a topic over the last couple of weeks as I’ve been processing some things.  I keep going back to this one day,  a couple of years ago.  I had a gentle reminder that I needed to trust my instincts more – and a reminder that God does have a sense of humor…

I had gone to the bathroom at work, and I was going to the sink to wash my hands.  In this particular bathroom, there are three sinks along the counter in front of the mirror.  There was someone at the middle sink, washing her hands.  I knew who this person was, but we had never really had a conversation before.  She worked in a different department on our floor.  As I walked to the sink, I saw this person washing her hands, and I suddenly had this thought in my head – this person is someone who times how long she washes her hands.  I had no logical reason for thinking that so I just shook it off and was about to start the debate over my sanity.  Immediately after I shrugged that thought off, though, the woman looked at me in the mirror and said, “Happy Birthday.”  I’m not sure what my face reflected, but I know that my mind was wondering what in the world she was talking about.  Then she continued, “That’s how long you should wash your hands – the length of time it takes to sing through ‘Happy Birthday’.”

Then I heard the little voice in my head – “Don’t dismiss those feelings, no matter how illogical or small.  Trust them.  They won’t always be about washing hands.”

As I walked back to my desk, I thought, “I get it.  Very funny.”

I really like knowing that God has a sense of humor, even though it is sometimes at my expense.  It is so often said that laughter is the best medicine, and I have always found that to be true.  Since we are made in God’s image, we have to believe that he has a sense of humor.

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