So You Think You Can’t Dance

“Do you dance?”

It was perhaps the first question he ever asked me. I answered with a nervous laugh and a shake of my head. “No.”

Before I knew it, he had taken my hand, pulled me close, and started twirling me in a too-small kitchen.

Well, hello. Nice to meet you, too.

“You can dance,” he chastised me after a moment had passed.

“I can follow,” I countered, because somehow it didn’t seem to count as dancing so long as someone else was doing all of the creative work. While I’ve always longed to move my body with all the grace and confidence my sister displays, I simply can’t.

I can’t.

Two simple words. Five little letters dotted with the apostrophe of finality.

I can’t.

It’s hard to imagine a phrase so small could have the power to undo you, but it does. Over and over again, those words have confined me, strapping me down to a small existence where new limits are not reached.

My word for 2018, I quickly realized, is Horizon. Really, it’s a phrase: Bring Me That Horizon. (What can I say? I’ve always been obsessed with the pirate’s life.)

While the horizon is most commonly known as the line at which the earth’s surface and the sky appear to meet, it also refers to the limit of a person’s mental perception, experience, or interest.

In other words, it’s the “I can’t” moments. I think I’m supposed to conquer them this year. So I’m trying to face them head on—all those moments I instinctively greet with a, “No way, Jose.”

As I’ve been intentional about catching these thoughts, I’ve grown discouraged by the sheer volume of them. I had no idea how often I shut myself down.

“Really bend your knee and push that blade into the ice,” Kim coaches.

“My legs are not strong enough to hold that position. I can’t.”

“You’ve got to commit,” Gabe says as he instructs me through a front flip on the trampoline.

“It’s hard to commit to breaking my neck. I can’t.”

“Loosen your hips and move with it, girl!” Caleb calls as I’m tossed about on a mechanical bull.

“That defies every instinct of self-preservation in my body. I can’t.”

As I am my own worst critic, I don’t think it’s an accident that this challenge has come on the tail end of my Year of Together. I’ve gathered some pretty fantastic people (see above) who often give me that little boost of encouragement I needed. I’ve learned to take them at their word even when my doubts want to tell me they’re wrong. I am not a backspin prodigy; I can barely get my left foot off the ice for one rotation.

But I’ve learned to trust those voices. I’ve learned to lean into them and let them give me the strength I didn’t know that I had.

And a funny thing has happened to me over the last few months. I’ve become brave enough to dance in public—even when there is no one to follow. Because, surprisingly enough, my hips know how to move entirely on their own. Suddenly, they feel beautiful and confident and maybe even a little bit graceful. (And, if Shakira is to be believed, hips don’t lie, so it must be true.)

It’s amazing what a world of possibilities opens up when we stop telling ourselves we can’t and instead start whispering that we’ve got this. That this new challenge is going to be difficult, but we are strong and capable of conquering it.

I hope you’ll be brave enough to tell yourself you can.

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Undone

A friend of mine was recently talking about his strained relationship with his mother. He laughed because some of the things she said were so ridiculous. Absolutely and utterly horrible, but completely ridiculous. And I was glad he could laugh. Truly. Because sometimes the laughter is the only thing that keeps us from tears.

There are too many broken families in this world. Too many children who don’t know what it is to have both a mother and a father. Too many kids who don’t know what it is to love and be loved in return.

In a world like this, sometimes I find it hard to hold onto hope. I find it hard to believe that happy endings could ever come from the ashes of these relationships. Sometimes I set the fairytales aside and allow my heart to become a little cynical. To stop believing that hope makes its own magic and that we can walk through trials and pain and be better off for it when we finally reach the other side.

The word that echoes in my mind is “Undone.” When I think of love and heartache, a quote from Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution  pounds in my brain:

“I am not afraid of beatings or blood anymore. I’m not afraid of guards or guillotines.
“There is only one thing I fear now—love.
“For I have seen it and I have felt it and I know that it is love, not death, that undoes us.”

And when I read that quote, I can’t help but think that maybe it is best to be undone. Maybe it’s best to love and receive nothing in response than to allow our hearts to be clouded by hatred, or worse yet, that cold sense of unfeeling.

Maybe it’s best to learn the same lesson that Jennifer Donnelly’s character learns. When confronted with how her actions have led to nothing but her own demise—when reminded that the world has not changed for the better on account of her sacrifice—she responds:

“The world goes on stupid and brutal, but I do not. Can’t you see. I do not.”

Though my world goes on, stupid and brutal as before, I do not. I choose love. I choose to be undone.

Because I’ve always had a penchant for fairytales. I’ve always been fascinated by words like “hope” and “love” and “wonder.” I still choose to believe in beauty from ashes. I think my friend does, too.

And while it breaks my heart to think of how his mother’s words must hurt him, the person I feel most sorry for is his mom. Because she doesn’t know what she’s missing. She can’t know. Or she never would have told him goodbye. She’s the one who is suffering. She’s the one who goes on stupid and brutal. But my friend… he does not. Can’t you see? He does not.

And I hope, when it comes down to it, you would choose to be undone. You would choose not to be stupid and brutal as the world would have you.Becoming Undone

I hope you’ll find that love is always worth it.
And that hope will ring true.
Because we all need something to believe in.
And we all need to be believed in.
And on this day that I come undone…
I choose to believe in you.

You Are Worth It

Today, I’m at a loss for words. It happens from time to time. I keep typing letters onto the page only to delete them and try again. Still I find that my words are insufficient as everything within my heart tries to rush out all at once. The phrases jumble together. Trip over the next. And somehow I can’t seem to say how important it is that you know you are beautiful. That you understand that God doesn’t make mistakes. That you grasp the depth of His love for you.

But the words are missing and and those kinds of words have conditions, anyway. Not that I’m going to change my mind and take them back the next time you make a mistake, but because you will want me to take them back. Because you will argue that if I only knew who you are… What you’ve done…

I could say it all day in a thousand words or more, but until you believe them for yourself, my words are meaningless. Empty. I may be talking to someone in the world, but I’m certainly not talking to you.

Oh, but I am talking to you. You and you only. You’re the one who needs to hear it. And how I wish I could take your face in my hands like the preschoolers I spend time with every weekday afternoon. “Hey you,” I’d say, “you’re worth it. You are one incredible human being.” And I would mean it from the bottom of my heart. “Hey you,” I’d say, “you’re beautiful. You are one breathtaking masterpiece.” And I would pray those words wouldn’t bounce off of the carefully crafted wall you’ve built to protect yourself – the one that is actually harming you instead.

You’re the only one who can penetrate that wall. You’re the only one whose words are loud enough to force truth into the darkened corners of your wounded spirit. So please, take it from someone who sees what you are somehow missing, and tell yourself that you’re worth it.

I DO Believe in Fairies

Did you know that every time you say, “I don’t believe in fairies”, a fairy falls down dead?

Well, I don’t know if you believe in fairies or not, but I think this is an interesting thought to ponder. Of all things that could possibly sap a fairy of its strength, why is it disbelief?

I don’t think fairies are the only ones whose existence thrives on belief. I think we humans are similar. So maybe we don’t physically die, but sometimes our dreams do.

When I was in high school, a friend of my father’s used to come up to me, take my face between his hands, kiss me on the forehead (he’s one of the precious few people who can get away with doing that), and tell me, “I believe in you.” At the time, I thought it was a strange thing for him to say. Exactly what was he referring to when he said he believed in me? Silly me was looking for specifics; my friend was saying precisely what he meant.

Me. He believed in me. He believed in the infinite possibilities God had placed within my heart. He believed in anything and everything I was capable of doing. Even the things I had yet to discover.

It’s amazing how much of our potential begins or ends in our minds. If we tell ourselves we can’t, we can’t. If we’re convinced that we will fail, we fail. Sometimes all it takes is that one person looking you in the eye and saying, “I believe in you.”

I have a cousin who is six years old. She can’t walk, can’t talk, and has no diagnosis and, therefore, no known cure. But I know that Leah thrives on belief. My aunt tells me stories of how Leah shuts down around certain people. Basic functions are difficult for her to perform, so if you don’t believe she’s capable of doing them, she won’t waste her energy trying to impress. But I’ve only heard the stories because I know that Leah is much more capable than she lets on. She comes alive around me because I’m the kind of person who takes her face in my hands, kisses her on the forehead, looks deep into her eyes, and whispers, “I believe in you.”

If I could see your face right now, I’d tell you the same. I don’t care what anyone else has told you. You are capable of so much more than you ever dreamed you could be. So this is me, clapping my hands, rousing you back to the realm of dreams and possibilities. Wake up, my friend. I believe in you.