It’s amazing how quickly time goes by in an MFA program. I’m heading into my final semester of the MFA in Dance at The Ohio State University and I’ll graduate in early May. Between preparing for my MFA project (presented at Urban Arts Space just a few weeks ago) and looking for jobs, I knew that this year would be one of unknowns. And, now, I find myself thinking about how simple that uncertainty was, and how ordinary.
Two weeks ago, I tore the ACL in my left knee teaching dance class. The way I did it was unremarkable–not through a complicated, tricky movement, but by a very routine action. I felt something in my knee slip as I planted my left foot on the floor and I fell down immediately. Lying on the floor, breathing slow and deep and praying for the spontaneous healing of my leg, I knew I had torn something. I straightened my leg. I got up and limped around for the rest of the day. The next morning, my knee was swollen and I could no longer bend or straighten my leg. On Monday I saw a doctor and got an MRI; by Wednesday I had my diagnosis and an appointment with a surgeon.
I feel a little sick when I replay the events in my head because of the speed of it all. In under a second, I went from healthy, active, and strong to…well, I was going to write something about my limited state but then I think about how mobile I am, and that I’m still healthy, active, and strong, and after surgery and 6-9 months, I will recover. The experience so far has been sobering–anything in our lives we consider constant can change in a moment, and I’ve been overwhelmed with gratitude for how I’ve seen God work in my heart and life over the past two weeks, and in the people around me who have stepped up to sub my classes, drive me to appointments, and encourage me.
God has kept me joyful, and these past couple of weeks have driven home for me how frequently I look to my circumstances to provide me with joy, and my abilities to provide me with validation and purpose. Two weeks have made clear how faulty this thinking is because circumstances change rapidly, and the things we hold dear vanish.
This morning at church, we looked at Philippians 1:12-18, where Paul is writing to the Philippians while he is under house arrest in Rome. Paul’s whole deal was traveling around sharing the gospel with people and house arrest made that impossible. But he rejoices because of how he sees God working through and because of his imprisonment:
“I want you to know, brothers that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Philippians 1:12-14).
It’s such a good example for me of steadfast trust in God. That in hard circumstances, instead of focusing on how bad things are, we can focus on what God is doing in us and through us and around us. Because he is still working! I’m wrestling with that today. I would rather things be easy. I would rather go on teaching my dance classes and dancing. I’m mad that I’m not. But what I have to believe at this moment (and I’m not there yet) is that somehow this event in my life will bring God more glory at this moment than dancing could. That actually seems like an impossible reality to face and one that I truly don’t want to, but it’s where I find myself right now.