Can it be?! Am I really writing something for this long lost blog? I didn’t disappear off this the face of the earth?
Just Jessika has been just a mess.
Dancing in 2010 has been quite the roller coaster. From old-school ultra-classical Sleeping Beauty to barefoot and body-bruising Vespers in the 3 by Dove program my body’s gone through quite the gamut. And while Vespers was an incredibly challenging and rewarding experience (which maybe if I can get my act together I’ll tell you all about…), the beautiful “ballet body” – i.e. long lean legs – I’d worked so hard to achieve during Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty had morphed into something else. Something I didn’t like. And with the All Balanchine program (including the pink tights and black leo costumed ballet The Four Temperaments) quickly approaching, I quickly began to freak out…
You see I stand in front of mirrors. All. Day. Long.
Sounds like fun, huh?
Not only that, but I’m surrounded by dozens of beautiful skinny-mini ballerinas scantily clad in leotards and tights. This is the environment I grew up in. This is the environment I live in every day. And believe me it’s so easy to begin comparing yourself to others, and so hard to not feel self-conscious about your body. In a profession where you strive toward a perfect (and unattainable) aesthetic ideal, it’s easy to get caught up in the “If only…” game.
If only I were 5 pounds thinner… If only my turnout were better… If only I had skinnier legs and prettier feet…
The list goes on. Pretty soon all you see when you look in the mirror is a “punch list” – all the things that are wrong and need fixing. The longer you play the game the worse it gets. You begin to hate what you see in the mirror. And then comes a point when you don’t see anything at all – you can’t even look in the mirror anymore. Your vision blurs as soon as you get too close so that the reflection staring back at you is hazy and dim.
I would know. I’ve been there. I’ve played the game.
But I hated the game. I tried to quit so many times by addressing the “punch list,” through diets and exercise, but these temporary superficial fixes only drew me back in. It wasn’t until I came to the point where I hated the fact that I hated myself more than hating what I saw in the mirror that I was finally released.
I wanted to love the woman that God made me to be. He created me, His unique masterpiece to be just as I am. He thinks I’m beautiful, so why don’t I?!
So why don’t I? I realized that I put my worth in my weight, in my looks and not in who I am: a daughter of the Most High God, created in His image, worthy not because of what I do, or how I look, but because I am His.
It’s been a slow process building on and asserting that worth, as I try to lead a balanced and surrendered life, instead of one that yo-yos back and forth, “managed” on my own and in my own strength. Therefore I’m ashamed to say that after all this progress I’ve made I succumbed to the “If Only” game again as the reality of pink tights and the All Balanchine Rep loomed before me. My eyes and my arms wandered from Christ, the anchor of my identity, to the idol of skinny thighs, and as I let go of Him I began to drown. My arms flailed as I tried to keep myself afloat; as I tried to control the situation.
And what does God do to the proud?
He gives them the stomach flu on the Monday of our opening performance week. And boy was I ever humbled before Him! But praise Him He is SO faithful! He showed me such grace and lifted me up in His perfect timing as I repented of my idolatry and laid myself before Him. Once again I found myself in Him, and I did cast all my anxiety on Him because oh how He does care for me!
What a blessed and absolutely miraculous opening weekend it was! Pink tights and all.
“‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:5-7