What I learned from my seven year old self

I was in second grade, about seven years old, when my parents enrolled me in ballet class. I learned first, second and third position. (Maybe I learned all five, but I only remember three.) I learned to plie and hold my hands just ever so dainty and pointed the way real ballerinas did.

My best friend Debbie took ballet with me. It was fun and special and exciting for us. We were especially excited that we would have a recital at the end of the series of classes.

I’m only five feet tall. When I was seven, well I suppose I wasn’t more than three feet tall, but I don’t know. I’ve always been shorter than my friends, something that at times I saw as a handicap and at others a blessing. In ballet, it was a handicap.

Me in my homemade ballerina costume - 1970

Me in my homemade ballerina costume about 1970

When you’re seven and in ballet class, you don’t understand that the ballet teacher wants to put on a recital that looks as beautiful and planned as possible given the age group of children in the class. When dancing in groups, it’s important that the group members are of similar height and ability I suppose. And there began my first memory of being treated differently because I was short.

For the recital, we broke up into groups, organized by gemstone themes. The kindergartners were emeralds. The second graders were rubies. I should have been a ruby, but because I was the same height as the kindergartners, I had to dance with them. My best friend Debbie on the other hand, was one of the tallest girls in the class. She got to dance a solo because she was so tall.

My friend Debbie and me before our ballet recital

My friend Debbie and me in our ballet costumes before our recital

My brother Scott, me and our schnauzer Sugar. Notice how we are the same height though he is sitting and I am standing!

My brother Scott, me and our schnauzer Sugar. Notice how we are the same height though he is sitting and I am standing!

I wasn’t happy when my mother took me shopping for my green leotard and tutu. In the end, we settled on a green one-piece bathing suit that had a bright orange sea horse on the front. I was horrified that my mother was going to sew a green patch over the sea horse and then make my tutu with her own two hands.

The rubies get to buy their costumes all made, I lamented.

If I were a ruby like I was supposed to be, I would have had a store-bought costume instead of a bathing suit with a sea horse disguised as a ballet leotard.

Isn’t it something that 46 years later I still remember how that felt? I still remember being different and what that meant to me. I wasn’t tall enough to dance with girls my own age, and in my young mind, that meant that I wasn’t enough. That tape has played over and over in my head all these decades later, and muddled within are more examples of my not-enough-ness.

I’m not tall enough.
I’m not athletic enough.
I’m not skinny enough.
I’m not loving enough.
I’m not tough enough.
I’m not devoted enough.
I’m not self-confident enough.
I’m not smart enough.

I could go on, but you get the picture. All of my not-enough-ness gets tangled up in that little seven year old girl wanting to be like everyone else her age. She still lives inside me, and she comes out when things are stressful, or disappointing or difficult.

When my marriage was failing, I told myself I wasn’t enough to keep it together.
When my children left their faith, I told myself I wasn’t a good enough mother.
When my boss is disappointed in me, I tell myself I don’t have what it takes to be a leader.
When my husband and I disagree, I tell myself I don’t know how to be in a relationship.

It’s all lies you know. And you probably tell yourself some of the same lies my seven-year old self does.

But you know what? Jesus says I am enough. He says you are enough. He says He is enough.

“My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 MSG

Jesus’ love and grace is higher and deeper and wider than anything we can imagine. It goes to the greatest lengths for us. It takes our not-enough-ness and makes it more than enough. His love never gives up and it never fails us. When we bring our whole selves – the broken and insecure parts, as well as the confident and sure parts, he says, you are enough. If you weren’t, would I have died for you?

Friend, I don’t know if you have a seven year old ballerina inside of you telling you that you are not enough, but I have a hunch that you do. Today, take your not-enough-ness and place it in the hands of Jesus. Let him remind you how loved you are, how treasured you are, how beautiful you are.

Let him remind you that you are enough.

 

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