Dancing for Jesus
Paper writing, laundry folding, dinner cooking, exercising, organizing, driving, communicating. These are the things that make up our days, the everyday hours. If you didn’t already know this, much of life in reality is not what it looks like on Instagram. Our days are full of projects, frustrations, inconveniences, work, laughter, and small conversations.
I don’t know if you can relate, but it is really easy for me, when faced with a stack of things to do, and a schedule that needs to be accomplished and that I need to be prepared for, to feel overwhelmed. To see that there is so much to do, and have very little motivation to accomplish it, or even not feel up to it, like I don’t have what it takes to meet the challenges of the day.
For me, life somehow easily seems to become a never ending checklist. Wake up early, exercise, go to school, go to work, be nice to people, try to have minimal awkward interactions, do homework, read scripture, eat healthy, go to bed, repeat. And the list of should-do’s goes on and on, day after day. Although schedules and plans are good (and we women love them), somewhere in this process I have subconsciously made my life into merely checking boxes.
And it’s so joyless.
I think this is such a common problem, we humans not being capable of finding joy our lives, in our work, or even our relationship with Jesus. I see it everywhere. People, Christians and non-Christians alike, waiting and waiting for those big moments in their lives that will make everything click. So many people are waiting to be happy, and, getting tired of waiting, settle for cheap comforts. I often crave that “Eureka!” moment, when I finally figure out where the joy is, as if it was hiding somewhere deep inside of me waiting to be found, like it is some secret that God is cruelly hiding from me.
And after a while I realized something. The problem lay in my constant introspection. Always thinking “Am I happy right now?” I found that I was praying more for myself than for others. I realized that my whole mindset needed to shift, and I needed to start looking outwards instead of inwards. Instead of thinking “What is this situation giving me right now?”, thinking “What could I give to this situation?” I don’t know exactly why, but things lose a lot of meaning when you’re just doing them for yourself.
Here’s an example.
Every Monday afternoon, I dance for about 4 hours straight. Ballet, pointe, tap, and jazz. I absolutely love to dance, but there are many days where my body doesn’t want to keep moving for that amount of time, much less do precise movements. And it’s really easy to give into that urge, that resistance, to do things halfway, and to let my body drag. And I kind of did that for a while. I grew to not feel like dancing because it was so much work. And if more often than not I don’t gain pleasure from the exercise, then what’s the point?
I wanted to conquer this, so I started doing something kind of silly. I pictured in my head that I was dancing at the feet of Jesus, that I was performing for Him. And somehow, it made the struggle and the resistance meaningful, because it became a form of prayer. My mind stopped focusing on my discomfort and started focusing on my offering to the God who suffered all discomfort to redeem me. The really cool thing about this picture, is that it’s not just something that existed in my imagination, it was reality. He actually was there, watching my every step,
“because he knows when I sit, when I rise, and when I dance.”
I think that’s what our lives need to become in order for us to find joy in the everyday: dances for Jesus. I’ve learned that it’s harder to find meaning in struggle when you are just struggling for your own sake or for a worldly end. We need to change how we struggle. I invite you to stop focusing on what you’re getting from the world or your work, and start focusing on what you’re giving. To start living your lives as a prayers, and as offerings. And to remember that they don’t have to be perfect prayers or offerings either. When talking to that annoying person, to remember that they need and deserve love just as much as you do. When faced with that difficult task, not to fall victim to perfectionism and self doubt but rise above it. To not be afraid that others won’t like you because you’re there to love them, and not needing to seek validation from them.
I once read that God loves the ordinary, and I believe it. He spreads life through the smallest of acts. He has given us lives full of so much beauty, so many small things to appreciate. Christ - the King and Redeemer of the world - came into the world as a child and grew up as a carpenter. Before He started performing miracles, Jesus lived an ordinary life. He obviously thought that there was great meaning in simplicity.
John Paul II said, “Life with Christ is a great adventure.” This means that in Him, ordinary life brings extraordinary joy, that ordinary life itself is an adventure in love, purpose, and truth. We just need to live in Him, and love Him by loving others.
My name is Julia, and I've had the pleasure of growing up in the beautiful state of Michigan. Currently, I'm a junior in high school who is just trying to figure out what it means to be a truly authentic woman of Our Lord, and how to write about it. I have two sisters, both younger than me, and have had the blessing of being homeschooled through middle school. During my freshman year I experienced a real conversion to Christ and have been falling more deeply in love with Him ever since.
Julia blogs at thelivingtabernacle.com.