I firmly believe that every trial, struggle, and difficulty has lessons to teach us if we will only choose to find them. No matter the size of them in reality or the size they appear to be in our mind, there is a message in them.
We’ve been ballroom dancing students for 10 months now and we’ve learned a lot. We can competently dance steps to about seven different dances – Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Cha Cha, Rumba, East Coast Swing and are learning steps to two more. But competency isn’t what makes anyone want to watch someone else dance, nor is it the end goal of our lessons. The goal and what makes dance grab your attention is the beauty and grace of the dancers.
In order for a dance to be beautiful and graceful, the dancers must create that picture on the floor. Our instructors remind us that the gentleman creates the frame, but the lady creates the picture and this spring our studio began to offer “Guys Night” and “Ladies Night” classes to help us do just that. I’ll be honest, I HATED most of those Ladies Night classes. It was irrational how much I hated them, and after several of them, I literally drove home in tears. For several weeks, I couldn’t even explain why I hated them so much, but something made me keep going back.
At the same time, I had been studying Brent Curtis’s and John Eldredge’s book, The Sacred Romance, with a friend. We were in chapter ten, when I found this:
“In the day-to-day pattern of things, our journey is shaped more often by dragons and nits–crises that shake us to the core and persistent troubles that threaten to nag us to death. Dragons and nits: Are they tragic events and random inconveniences, or are they part of the plot through which God redeems our heart in very personal ways?” (p. 150)
They go on to tell the story of Mary, a woman who lost her permanent teeth in an accident and had trouble replacing them for years with a permanent solution.
“Her teeth were a source of shameful arrows lodged deep. A seemingly irrelevant nit that God refused to take away became an opportunity to face a fundamental question the heart of every woman asks: Am I lovely? Without the nit, the deeper issue of her heart would never have come up. Once it did, the real battle began.”
Why were these classes so difficult for me? It was because the whole point of them was to help me create a picture of beauty and grace which ran counter to a core lie that I had believed for most of my life – I am not beautiful, I am not graceful, I am less than.
There are a few times that I could point to in the last 40 years where I felt beautiful. They were fleeting and usually tied to some sort of event, but day to day, more often than not, I believed that lie. Even now, looking at pictures of those events, that lie colors my recollection of those events. I nitpick every picture and find fault with myself in nearly every one.
“Both dragons and nits take us into the deep places of the soul, uncovering the sentences we have long lived by.” (Curtis and Eldredge, The Sacred Romance, p. 154)
My nit, Ladies Night, revealed the “sentence” that I had “long lived by”, and I began to want to believe something different.
I don’t remember where I found this verse, but it’s been helping me counter that lie every time it pops into my head. Psalm 45:10-11 NIV says:
“Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention: Forget your people and your father’s house. Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.”
God doesn’t see me the way I see myself. He sees me as his creation, “fearfully and wonderfully made”. He is enthralled by the beauty of whom he created me to be. As I repeat this verse over and over, I am beginning to see myself through his eyes. And this last Ladies Night? Well, I danced to enthrall my King, because he finds me beautiful.
What long-held belief might your “dragons and nits” be attempting to reveal?