At fifteen it was my sixth year as a competitive dancer, and my second year as a competitive soloist. I had been battling a difficult cold just before an out-of-state competition. Groggy from taking heavy-duty cold medicine, I stepped onto the stage with a throbbing head and shaking feet. Following my usual routine, I wiped my hands over the bottoms of my taps as I said a quick prayer. I felt the world turn to slow motion as I heard the announcer call my number. My teammates cheered as I stepped onto the stage. I grinned at the judges -- the kind of goofy grin that results from countless doses of Zicam, Dimetapp, and Tylenol. I took my place. The music started. I felt my feet start to move and I realized I had started to dance. I focused my eyes on one of the judges -- an older man with silver hair and a pleasant smile. Suddenly I felt the medicine begin to take effect. As I prepared for my double pirouette, my mind went foggy. I landed the turn, but instantly my mind was blank. The dance had disappeared along with my cold symptoms. For some reason, however, my feet kept tapping. I remember doing toe turns across the stage. I remember looking back at the judge whose smile had faded -- he now looked confused. I remember thinking my mom was going to kill me. I remember wondering if anyone would notice if I ran off stage. Trapped up on the stage, I expected to feel mad at myself or at least disappointed. But I felt joy, true joy. I realized that I no longer had to follow the strict forms of combinations. As long as I wasn't performing for the sake of winning, I decided to dance for God. I tapped around the stage with a huge grin on my face, thankful that God was watching and didn't care if I messed up. I felt joy in my spirit, and in the midst of the chaos I felt closest to God. I heard the music pound. I heard my head throb. I heard my thoughts blast. I heard my heart race. I heard my feet tap. And in the midst of this I heard God remind me, "I haven't given you a spirit of fear." I knew at that instant that God gives us times of adversity to make us stronger. That morning I had no idea I would be improvising my tap solo. I had no clue I would be faced with adversity. God did. Since then, I've learned from the experience. I know that adversity is hard. It's humiliating. It's painful. But it strengthens. It gave me perseverance. It gave me a purpose.
Spirit of Fear
February 8, 2010