What do you do when you come to the end of a chapter in your life?
One week ago, a huge chapter of my life came to an end. It was a chapter ten years in the making. It was the chapter of dance. I still remember Day 1, when Mum pinned my hair into the worst bun the world has ever seen, and I learned how to point my toes for the first time. I knew next to nothing about how much of an impact such a simple movement would have on the next ten years of my life.
I remember Year 2, moving from barefoot, fluid, modern dancing to something rigid, disciplined, and traditional. Highland. I met the style of dancing that, though I didn't realize it then, would eventually become my passion. I developed stamina and strength, and I began to donate my time to practice because I wanted to, not because I was forced to.
I remember Year 5 when I was, once again, introduced to something brand new. Ballet. I came to class feeling skeptical and annoyed, not for a second believing that I would grow to love the structure, the poise, the balance, and the pain so much. I remember every recital; every show that we prepared for, every competition I entered, and every exam I completed.
I remember the very first moment that I slipped on a pair of pointe shoes, and rose onto the very tips of my toes. I remember the kind lady fitting my feet was talking to me, but I could do nothing but stare at my reflection in the mirror. At that moment, the craziness of it all came flooding into my mind, and I couldn't hear anything. I thought back to life on the coast, and realized that my dreams and goals had never included becoming a ballerina. My 5-year-old self considered piano, swimming, baseball, and literally everything but dancing. And yet, here I stood, on the tips of my toes, trained to dance in a way that I once considered so bizarre and impossible that I had never dared to let it cross my mind. Here I stood, unlocking a new level of a God-given talent that I had no idea I possessed.
I remember the first time I was given a class of my own to teach. I remember choreographing my first number. What a rush. To be able to find a song and connect with it, and to piece the dance together like a puzzle was nothing short of energizing. To watch something you've created spring to life before your eyes, and to discover the moves that the song is calling for- it is still indescribable. That was when I realized my love for creating. For designing. For teaching. For performing.
And five years later, after teaching dozens of students, learning hundreds of dances, performing a huge variety of shows, travelling to Guatemala to minister and teach, and spending hours and hours in the studio daily, it's over. After spending more time in the studio than in my own house, after eating supper every day after 10 PM... it's finished. I've performed my last show, and at this point, I have no plans to keep dancing.
And so I ask it again: What do you do when you come to the end of a chapter in your life?
Well, what do you do when you come to the end of a chapter in a book? Do you close the book and dwell on the previous chapter? Do you go back and read it over again? Do you mourn its close? Of course not. You turn the page and keep reading. Chapter 1 may have been boring, so that's why you move on to Chapter 2. Chapter 2 might have been exhilarating, but that just means there must be greater things coming in Chapter 3, and beyond.
You don't neglect what the previous chapters have said. The best authors drop the tiniest hints in the early chapters; hints that the reader hardly even notices. The best authors give the randomest glimpses of information, knowing that it will tie in later in a very necessary, and beautiful way. The best authors give you the lessons and the knowledge and the tools you need to understand the rest of the book. Sometimes the plot twist they throw in reminds you of that moment in the beginning of the story that you paid little attention to. Sometimes they don't revisit the memories from Chapter 1 until the last Chapter. Sometimes they leave you wondering if they've forgotten about that one little detail back in the first couple pages.
But the best authors never forget those details.
And the best Author ever is writing my book.
My life is His great composition. Every morning, He begins a fresh page. And while sometimes He drags me, kicking and screaming, the book is being written. He's been giving me the tools I will need someday. He's been giving me the skills that will be demanded of me someday. He's giving me the people who will teach me the most valuable lessons that I will need. He's giving me the experiences, the struggles, the accomplishments, and the discipline that will prove vital in later chapters.
So yes, I'm finishing a chapter. But I'm not closing the book. Moving to the next chapter is a process of life that is sometimes the greatest relief, and sometimes the hardest decision. And whether our chapter is finishing on a high or a low, it's part of a greater story. Whether it ends with the breaking or the mending of a relationship, with the gain or loss of a friend, with leaving or returning to our home, or with new birth or death, there's a plan. The Author never forgets the details. The Author never writes a pointless chapter. The Author never wastes time on an insignificant page. From the exposition to the climax to the resolution, He knows just how to make every story uniquely perfect for its time.
It's sad. It brings a lump to my throat and long minutes of silent nostalgia whenever I think back on these last ten years of intense discipline and great reward. The memories are vibrant and glowing. My current plans are free of all things dance-related, but I know better than to assume that I've seen the last of the studio. I know better than to assume that my feet will be blister-free for long. I know better than to assume that last week's performance was the grand finale. I know better than to assume that the lessons and blessings and opportunities of the last ten years will not impact my future in some way, shape, or form.
So when you see me dancing on some random stage in some random place at the most random time of my life and think to yourself, "I thought she stopped dancing years ago!"... don't be surprised.
It's what all the best authors love to do.