If you had asked little Rebekah what wanted to be when I grew up, I would have quickly replied “A missionary!” Being a professional ballet dancer was the furthest thing from my mind. Sure, I loved going to ballet class once a week but it was just for fun.
I kept waiting for an opportunity to “go on a mission trip” but as I got more serious about ballet, my summers were taken up with intensives and extra training opportunities. I realized that for the time being, my “mission field” was exactly where God had placed me. I started looking for ways to love and serve those around me. To encourage the girls in my class (even if I reeeeaaalllly wanted to be chosen for that part over her).
My junior year of high school, God made it clear that I should pursue a career as a professional dancer (another story for another day). I stepped up my training and started thinking about companies I might want to dance for. Things started moving forward and it’s not that they weren’t working out…they just didn’t look like the way I envisioned. I started looking at the typical trajectory of a professional dancer and the realized how selfish of a profession it really was. In the end, it seemed empty.
But I knew that God had called me on this path. “I gave you these gifts for a reason,” He said, “How are you going to use them?” So I asked myself the question, “what does this world need to hear?” the words hope and dignity kept resurfacing. Hope because Jesus is hope. Dignity because He created each of us in His image for a specific purpose.
Out of that, Bluebird Uncaged was born. We started out with a video project, Beautiful Things. Laura came to visit me in January of 2013 and we were talking about how we’d love to use dance to tell people about Jesus in other countries. “Well, your sister lives in Panama [Central America],” I said, “how about we go there?” I mentioned the idea to my parents and they said that I had to have more than just one connection there to go. So I randomly emailed an organization that was already making a difference in the community. “We’ve been praying about hosting an arts festival all year!” they replied, “and you all are the confirmation that we should do it.” God uses dance to open doors.
Since then, Bluebird has returned to Panama for the past four summers and dance has opened the doors to allow us to talk about Jesus in jails, orphanages, public squares, and local theaters. It’s been beautiful.
But all of that is a little beside the point. I want to encourage you to look around — realize the gift God has given you and the people He’s placed beside you. You have a unique sphere that no one else on the planet has. Your giftings, your personality, your skill sets—are all useful in communicating the story of Jesus. Jill Briscoe puts it this way, “the place between your own two feet at any given time [is] your mission field.”
Take a moment to recount the doors God has opened for you on your dance journey (or even the ones He’s clearly closed). Now think about the people you met along the way. How many other people have had that combination of life experiences?!
As dancers, it’s easy to get caught up in our personal journey (and to a degree we have to be focused on bettering ourselves to stay on top of our game) but look at the bigger picture. Your training as a dancer, gives you a unique position; you can relate to your fellow dancers in ways others can’t. Keep that in mind the next time you’re wondering why you’re just an understudy.
Looking back on my journey, if I were where I wanted to be (and not where God knew I needed to be), then I wouldn’t have seen certain friends meet Jesus. Hold your gift of dance with open hands for it’s merely the tool we’ve been given to communicate Hope and Truth. These are the moments where time meets eternity; may you courageously steward them as grace[full] invitations to the Jesus story.
Praying for you dear dancers. Keep shining! -RKD
This post was originally published on the Beautiful Feet Network blog.