For You formed my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works, and I know this very well.
- Psalm 139:13-14
I experienced my first heartbreak at 15 years old. I wish I could say it was because of a boy or even a fight with my best friend, but this heartbreak was deeper and detrimental. A great mentor-sister-friend of mine passed away and my world changed. I experienced a total identity crisis.
From the time I was a little girl, I remember searching so urgently for what made me, me. I envied the girls who stood out and seemed so sure of who they were. Whether they were bubbly, angsty, pretty, nerdy, etc., their personalities appeared to be so distinct and their purposes so intentional. In my eyes, I lacked. I was an honor-roll student, president of student council, a great dancer, a really cute looking girl, a young philanthropist: I had a lot going for me at such a young age! But I didn’t consider myself to be as anointed or equipped as them. I didn’t know my purpose.
At 13, I auditioned for an elite dance company and no part of me felt qualified to do it. That’s when I was greeted by bright-smiled, bouncy-ponied Shey Harris. As a leader on the senior company, she made me feel welcomed and gave me the confidence to shine. And I did. I was chosen to fill a spot on the company and my journey began. The journey that God used to teach me more about Him, which taught me who I am.
Dancing was my whole life for a 2-year span. I lived and breathed it. I shined as a front-line performer, served in roles I didn’t feel qualified for before, and was constantly jumping out of my comfort zone, almost voluntarily, with Shey’s encouragement of course. I was thriving.
Then on Saturday, November 26, 2011, I received a phone call that changed my life. Shey had passed away in a tragic accident. Everything came to a complete halt. I stopped dancing and ran from God until I experienced my salvation at age 19.
Growing up, I didn’t know the importance of actually listening to God and God only, so I searched desperately for someone to tell me who I was and always felt empty. Because of dance I felt a sense of purpose and thought I had finally filled that hole when Shey came into my life. She led me to God and coached me to be a great dancer, but after Shey died, so did my career as a performer, and with it went my faith. I associated my relationship with God with the love and joy I experienced in dance, so when it was taken away from me, I thought my faith was too. The hole I thought I had filled was empty again and my life was unrecognizable.
Now I’m 22 and I fully advocate the power of our God’s Word! God used Shey to love me and to teach me. He revealed many of my gifts and talents and allowed me to appreciate them, but it wasn’t until I listened to His voice instead of Shey’s that I was able to understand my true purpose. Scripture taught me that it wasn’t to dance in the front line or be the most favored teacher, it was to love God and help others love God. Shey’s death didn’t make sense as a 15-year-old girl who depended solely on her identity as a dancer, and I’m not sure I’ll ever understand why her life was ended so abruptly, but over the years, I’ve learned to not question or associate that pain with God’s plan. I have come to recognize how Shey’s life and death have pointed many people to Christ—and I praise God for that.
The whole time the truth was already laid out there: I was fearfully and wonderfully made and am fully known. The journey wasn’t easy. God used pain to grow me, but I learned that He is good through it all.
Who I am? I am His.
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