Friday, July 15, 2011


I'm beginning to understand.

My sons both played hockey and baseball for most of their young years, and my husband often said something that struck me as so strange when I'd drop one of them off at a practice. He'd say, "Did you stay to watch? How'd he do?" I wonder if the incredulity showed on my face -- I hope not. Because for the life of me I couldn't conceive why I would ever stay to watch another endless practice, either in a freezing cold ice arena, or, depending on the season, a freezing cold or sweltering hot baseball field. I hope my face remained impassive as I'd tell him, "No, I didn't stay to watch the practice." Because inside I was always very sarcastic. Are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING me? Why, WHY, would I stay to watch a practice????

But now my youngest daughter dances. And as all good mothers will tell you about their own, she is very good. And now I get it. I would watch the entire ballet class if I could, if it wouldn't embarrass her to death and make me look like a loon. As it is, it is my private joy to arrive to pick her up from class 10 or 15 minutes early so I can watch the tail end of the class through the window in the door. I think she's beautiful always, but when she dances, something inside me melts. She is strong and graceful and controlled.

At the beginning of every hockey season we were always required to sign a Code of Conduct form, basically agreeing that we wouldn't beat up or verbally abuse any other parent or player. No problem there. It always struck me as more than slightly unbalanced that any of the parents could get so emotional at hockey games, but especially that they could be so into their own kid's play. I love both my boys, loved to see them play well, but I never entertained the notion that baseball or hockey would take them anywhere special. They were always my boys first, athletes second.

Well, this baby of mine, she's still my daughter first and dancer second. But her dance stirs something in my soul, and helps me to understand why my husband would watch an entire hockey or baseball practice just for the sheer joy of watching the boys play.

So now she's at this ballet camp. The dancers are separated into levels according to their ability once they get there, and her teacher here at home suggested that there was a possibility she would be put in level C, a higher level, rather than B, which would mean she would be allowed to compete for a scholarship for the camp for next year. The adjudicators would be watching the dancers for the first 3 days of camp and placing them in their final levels.

Now this made me crazy. I started praying that the moment I heard about that, that the adjudicators would be dazzled by the obvious brilliance of my daughter, and put her where she so clearly belonged, in level C! Worry about this consumed me for days.

She ended up in level B, not C. She was so happy with her classes and teachers and the dance the B's would be doing for the end-of-camp performance, it was hard not to be happy with her. So my aspirations for the gilded "Level C" were dispelled for this year.

Then last night she texted that, only four days into a two-week camp, she has a sharp pain in the front of one of her knees. My soul twisted in consternation. I drove her crazy with return texts filled with advice about how to care for it. I texted her teacher at home for any advice she might have, and forwarded her teacher's text to her. I prayed. I asked my sisters to pray. My husband and I prayed together for this knee. Images filled my mind of her having to sit out for days, waiting for this knee to recover, and my heart twisted a little more.

So, I'm not a crazy hockey mom, but maybe I am a crazy ballet mom. Amounts to the same thing in the end, except that I sense no urge to punch anyone. Yet.

The whole experience has caused me to do a little soul searching. Why is this so important to me? Where the heck is this coming from? It's not balanced, not in the hockey moms and not in me.

Well, I know where it comes from. She's beautiful, and I've never been beautiful. Not in the way I look, not in the way I move. But she is a part of me. So through her, in a contorted, unhealthy way, I get to be something I've always longed to be: Beautiful.

The other morning God reminded me of Psalm 145:10:

Listen, O daughter, give attention and incline your ear:
Forget your people and your father’s house;
Then the King will desire your beauty.
Because He is your Lord, bow down to Him.

Then the King will desire my beauty. When? When I forget my people and my father's house. What could that mean?

I think it means when I allow my heart to be consumed with Him, rather than being consumed with "my people." Friends, the circle of acquaintances, family -- the whirlwind of the heart that ensues from too much conversation, too many activities, with too many people in one day. Forget friends, forget the circle of acquaintances, forget family, forget their needs, concerns, opinions, demands. Take the time to hold still, quiet the soul, and focus on Him, His magnificence, His glory, His worthiness, His sweetness and compassion, on pleasing Him. The beauty that draws His eye is the soul that will quiet itself before Him and listen for His voice. And that's the only beauty I should long for.

It is dizzying to fathom, this idea that the King would desire my beauty. Somehow, it is scary to dare to believe. Somehow in my heart, I'm afraid to look too closely at this idea, even to see how true it is. Inwardly, I glance at it ever so briefly, and then look away...ashamed.

I am ashamed because I so little deserve to be loved in this way, to be longed for by anyone, let alone Him, the magnificent and glorious King. It's so much easier for us to skate along the surface of the notion: oh yes, Jesus loves me, God loves me. And then we skip along our merry way, trot off to do more stuff. But to enter into the reality that His love for me transcends banal church dogma, that (through Jesus) He sees a beauty in me that fills His heart with desire, is staggering, breathtaking and...daunting.

Will I allow myself to be daunted? Will I hold still and allow the truth of His love to wash over me? Or will I continue to glance at it quickly and then run away because it's too much to bear? Instead be content with a mere morsel of what could be mine, be content to pathetically glean some imaginary regard through the fleeting beauty of my daughter?

HE: Behold, you are beautiful, My love; behold, you are beautiful. SS 1:15
SHE: He brought me to the banqueting house, and His banner over me was love. SS 2:4
HE: You are altogether beautiful, My love; there is no flaw in you. SS 4:7

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