In the Middle (of the Performance).

There was a girl in my elementary school who was deaf and had hearing aids.  She was a cute little girl with a deaf accent (or Deaf Speech--thanks Lynn!)* who won the local speech competition.  She told the story of being in a dance recital and how her hearing aids fell out of her ears during the performance.  She lost all sense of timing within the dance and when she looked at her teacher for help, her dance teacher (whom, for some reason, I remember it as if she didn't know what had happened, but that could have been my 5th grade brain making it all the more dramatic) just said/mouthed to her,

"Just keep dancing and smiling, sweetheart!"  

Of course this story made all of us cry.  And it seems like she went on to win the county competition as well.  It was a story of real life helplessness and we could all somehow relate to her vulnerability, even as little kids.

I sort of feel like the narrator from "The Wonder Years" as I'm writing this.  

Over the years, "Just keep dancing and smiling, sweetheart" has become sort of a motto for me.  When life got me way down, when I felt ultra-embarassed by the words or actions of someone, or even when I wanted to strangle someone, I would plaster this smile on my face (or at least put my head down) and plow ahead to get through whatever difficulty was coming at me.

My pride keeps me from wanting to expose my hurt feelings or disappointments.   

But sometimes I feel just like that little girl--dancing and dancing and enjoying life and them BAM! I'm in a sea of chaos and feeling completely out of place.  It can be very isolating and well-meaning people might say things like, "Just keep dancing and smiling."  But, in truth, they have no idea what it feels like.

It happens when someone hurts you deeply with their words or actions.  When someone you love is diagnosed with a thief of a disease.  When the world's injustice seems to prevail.  When you just don't know what to do in a situation.

I've recently been in a season of unknown.  I was praying for direction about my life, because in my heart I felt like God was telling me something about it--whispers, thoughts, feelings, that even perhaps I was going to make a change, but nothing was moving in a direction to indicate a change was coming.  Nothing.  I was at a complete loss for words, for direction, for anything.  I felt like God was saying, "Just keep dancing and smiling, sweetheart!" and I was tap dancing to a melody of muffled sounds and silence.

It was a very lonely and frustrating place to be.  But I kept dancing and smiling and still feeling exposed and out of time and off the right steps--and yet, He kept nodding encouragement at me.  And because He is my Teacher, I nodded and huffed and puffed my way through the routine.  I plowed ahead, even when I just wanted to stop and sit down and pout.

Why is this happening?
What are You trying to tell me?
Why can't this happen like I want it to?
My human understanding makes so much more sense--why don't You just listen to me?

But, even when I knew that He wasn't going to tell me, I still trusted Him to make it right.  I still knew, at the end of the day, that He works all things together for my good.  I put Psalm 138:8 on my kitchen window sill as a daily encouragement ("The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.  Your love, O Lord, endures forever.")  I trusted that the Great Choreographer would make it work out in His time, even when I didn't understand.

And then, suddenly, about two weeks ago, an apparent change appeared.  The process was quick, it solved a lot of family concerns, and it was made clear (with the support of prayers from a handful of my most trusted friends and family) which path I needed to take.  

And here we are, two weeks later with a new situation on the horizon.  I don't know why it happened this way.  I don't know why my path to this point took me on a two-hour tour for the past two years.  I don't know why I'm back to square one.  But I do know that this is what His dance routine holds for me right now.

And my plan is to just keep dancing and smiling.   

  *I don't know how to describe it, and I promise I'm not trying to be offensive, I just don't know a better word for it.  If you are a deaf person or have a better word for it, please comment below and I'll be sure to update this entry for you!

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