Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The skater

Hello, God.

I want to run something past you. I asked you to show me something the other day and I think you did, but, you being you, it was sort of oblique and mysterious so I've been turning it over in my mind.  Days later, I think I get it, but I just want to check. 

I don't feel so bad about being a bit dense; the disciples used to nod knowingly when out and about and then ask, 'Lord, what were you on about?' when you were back at the camp, didn't they?

As I say, I've been pondering.

A group of us were praying about what sort of shape a ministry to women might take at our church. We all have a longing to do something to support and encourage and equip the ladies in our church - between us we seem to have more than our fair share of brokenness and sadness - but we're not sure what to do or where to start. Over the months it's become clear that you are with us, but until we can discern what direction you want us to take, we don't want to start going anywhere at all. Best just keep asking, and keep listening. 

So we sat in a room and we asked you to speak to us. Scripture, words, pictures, impressions, a glowing neon finger writing on the walls, anything. And speak you did. You confirmed in a lot of ways that our ideas were in accord with each other, and you seem to be saying 'Don't worry; it's all good'

One picture that came into my head continued to puzzle me for ages after the meeting, though. Suddenly, waiting for Elizabeth outside her school among a sea of Mums huddled in overcoats and scarves in the drizzle, it came to me. 

I saw an ice-skater. She had dark hair piled up on her head and she was wearing a bright pink gauzy skating dress that flowed around her in layers. The background was darkness, the ice bright white. She skated. She danced across the ice with grace and elegance and exuberance, leaping and dancing. Twirling and swooping. She was skilled and confident, her footwork deft and sure. She was happy and uninhibited and she was skating for the sheer joy of it. This was her thing and she knew that she was good at it. Full of energy, she danced lightly across the ice, beautiful and smiling, her vivid pink dress standing out against the pristine white of the ice. A spotlight followed her around the ice, never leaving her, anticipating her every move. She was comfortable in the spotlight, comfortable with herself; unafraid. 

Here it is. I think. 

The skater is one of your children; she's a woman who knows you

You hold the spotlight, and she dances for you. For you and for herself. She is happy to be in the spotlight; she knows that that light goes with her wherever she goes. She loves to skate for you and show you the new things she has learned and she's fearless in breaking new ground, knowing that you're always there when she falls. She loves to do her thing and you love to watch her. The two of you enjoy each other. 

I don't know whether there's an audience in the darkness surrounding the skating rink, but I don't think it matters. She dances for you only. People might watch, or they might not, but she doesn't care because she dances for you; your approval is all that she needs. If the audience is there, they see her doing her best, giving it her all. They may see her fall, but they'll see her get up again as well. She skates to a tune that only she can hear and the steps are choreographed by you; it's a dance that shows off the gifts you have given her.

This woman is free. She's full of potential and she grows every day; becomes more daring and more innovative. She's free to express herself and she knows how proud you are of her. You move the spotlight as she glides around the skating rink and you ensure that she is never in darkness; she is always illuminated by your light. The far side of the rink is in darkness but she knows that she will always have enough light for the move she's making. Your timing is perfect and the two of you are in synch. She might falter, but you never turn away and leave her in shadow. She wants to please you and she knows that to use the skill she has makes you smile. 

She brings you glory by celebrating all that she is. 

I think that this is what you want for your children. You want your people to reach for you, to enjoy you and enjoy the blessings you love to give us. You want us to be all that we can be. 

This woman, she knows who she is. She knows that she is yours and that you're pleased with her. She is light and free and not weighed down by anything. She carries nothing with her. She has all she needs. 

She is not limited by her own opinion of herself and is not afraid to step out in faith to try something new and difficult if you ask her to. She smiles; she dances for you, and that's enough. She doesn't care if anyone else is watching, or what they think of her body, her style, her ability, the way she expresses herself - she looks only to you, and she feels your pleasure. She doesn't compare herself with swimmers or artists or singers, because she was made to skate, not swim or sing or draw. She doesn't compare herself with other skaters because they all have a different style and a different routine, and in any case she has a spotlight all to herself. 

She has learned to listen to your voice above all others, even her own. She knows she is wonderfully made; that she is some of your best work, and that watching her skate makes you smile. 

She is not bound in by fear of failure, because you have taught her not to worry, only to do her best. She doesn't shrink from a difficult manoeuvre, tricky footwork or starting from scratch with a new routine because she trusts the teacher and she hears his voice, challenging and encouraging. 

I don't know what this lady looks like, but I know that she is beautiful. She glows. She is radiant. She has the look of a woman who is comfortable in her own skin; she knows who she is and she knows what she is for. She loves to dance across the ice because she was made to dance. She has all that she needs.  She is exhilarated and excited every time she glides on the ice. She has confidence and security. 

She is in love. She skates for her lover, knowing that he finds her captivating. She wants to please him. She dances for an audience of One.

This is what you want for us. 

I'd like that too. 

18 comments:

  1. Beautiful word picture my friend - thanks for sharing :-) I want to be her too!

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    1. Thankyou. Now, what's the next step?

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  2. How lovely. So beautifully expressed. I want to be her too! Yet we can all be confident in our own way as we allow ourselves to surrender fully and stay faithful to the song God is expressing through us alone. We may not all be beautiful ice skaters but each one of us has their part to play in His marvellous symphony of grace.:)

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    1. 'His marvellous symphony of grace' - how wonderful! As someone who isn't vaguely musical I'd love to be a part of that. And a song He is singing through me? Oh, yes please.
      Thankyou so much for this.

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  3. Thank you so very, very much for sharing this! I was just about to write something a little like this on my blog, and I still will, only because as I read this, it just confirmed what God showed me today. I think maybe we are coming into a time when the women of God will be released into this freedom of expressing our love for our Father.

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    1. Oh, I hope so. It feels to me as if we're on the edge of something. Praying that it's something God-sized.
      I'm so glad you came.

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  4. Helen, this is wonderful. I have printed it to share with other women I know and to display where I can see it to remind me that I too want to be a performing only for God to the best of my ability. I agree totally also with what Barbara has said I too feel that the liberation of Women is going to be a huge turning point for God's glory. Look forward to hearing more about your women's ministry - that is my heart too:)

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    1. Thankyou so much for your kind words and encouragement. I'm honoured that you've printed it out. I'm quite sure I'll write more about our fledgeling women's ministry when we have an idea of the shape it might take. Any advice gratefully received!

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  5. Such a beautiful picture of a woman of God! I too, want to be her, skating only for my Lord and free and joyful doing it. Now the coach in me wants to ask: What was God showing you through your vision of the skater that relates to your women's ministry?

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    1. Now there's a question. It took me more than a week to decode the images that I saw so I'm still working on this!
      I think the skater is a woman as she is meant to be. She is free from so many of the things that weigh us down and limit us. I believe that God is in the business of restoration; we don't have to be the sum of the experiences we've had up to this point in our lives - He can bring us back to full emotional and spiritual health so that we can reach to others with our stories and show them the Healer. I think if we could do that then we could fly...
      Watch this space. I'm quite sure that I'll be rambling on about this for some time to come!
      Thankyou so much for your encouragement and your challenge. And if you have any insights I'd love to hear them.

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  6. When I first started in reading this analogy, my first thought was "this story is all about women and thus written to women." I want you to know I was wrong. It's for everyone, men are not the exception. We all struggle at time with that word that makes us sometimes 'stutter' when we think out loud--ACCEPTANCE. It's one of the 4-most human traits in life {the other three are for another conversation). But rather directing our attention away from man and focusing on demonstrating God's glory, we tend to find ourselves...falling on the slippery ice.
    GOOD PIECE!

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  7. Thankyou, thankyou. That means a lot to me. I've spent my life to this point trying desperately to fit in and gain people's approval and it's only now that I'm in a place where God can get to work on this area. A long way to go....
    I'm so glad that it spoke to you, and that you came here to read it.
    Thankyou.
    (and I'm looking forward to the other conversation!)

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  8. I love this post, Helen, on lots of levels. My heart is women's ministry, and I long for us to soar in the freedom of our Audience of One. Yet, I love this more because, though I'm a Southern (not to mention completely nonathletic)girl who has never been near a pair of ice skates, I always picture myself skating when I am praying and singing to the Father. It's always been the picture in my head of the beautiful abandon I can have before Him. Being reminded of it this week was dear to me.

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    1. Oh Ginger, how wonderful. How amazing that God speaks to us like that. 'Soar in the freedom...' Yes please.
      Thankyou for your encouragement.
      Hx
      The only time I went skating I broke my elbow.

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  9. Thank you for this; I feel it has something to say to my own quest although I'm not sure what just yet. As you say, sometimes these things take a lot of mulling over. It's definitely an image to add to the 'mulling pot'.

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    1. Thanks for reading and taking the trouble to leave an encouraging comment. I'm glad it struck a chord with you.

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  10. This has really helped me this week, Helen. During the wobbly times of doubt & feelings of unappreciation throughout this week (and there have been lots!), I remember who I am dancing for. Thank you, your words are such a gift to many; part of your unique & beautiful ice dance.

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  11. Thank you, Karen. That means a lot. I often realise how many people I want to please and how I depend on other people for my sense of worth - there's only one audience that matters. Thanks.

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