“God brought me through an experience I will never forget. At the Engaging In the Kingdom Women’s Conferences, Brenda Gatlin delights all of us with wonderful contests and fun prizes. This year was no exception. One of the delightful, energetic contests is a dance-off. I heard the announcement for this and my whole being said: “YES, I am doing this.” Only four people would be able to participate, so I ran as fast as I could, hoping I would not trip as I raced up the stairs.
I was the fourth and final person to the stage. I was excited to participate but I also had an inner anticipation that God was doing something deeper. I introduced myself with a cocky, “my name is Sandi, and I am from here”, as I pointed my fingerato the stage indicating I was from the Duluth Vineyard. I was going to have fun with this.
Brenda started giving the instructions concerning where we were to perform and for how long. As the guidelines were stated, I was warming up. Doing stretches, twists, bends, really hamming it. It was great. The very active music started. The first women were fantastic. My turn came. I amazed everyone. It was very unlike what was expected from me. When the contest was finished, I didn’t care who won. I just had soooo much fun! Tying for first place was a little bonus.
The best part came a shortly afterwards. The dancing itself was a celebration of complete freedom with no inhibitions or standards of what will anyone think. That was freeing itself. Then during the worship, I began to weep. God brought to my mind me as a little girl who was reprimanded for dancing in front of the camera. I remember the cutting words, “you are just trying to draw attention to yourself. Quit showing off”. Those memories kept me bound-up with the constant fear I was going to be judged. I felt like my creativity or free expressions were just trying to draw attention to myself and therefore I needed to stop. I felt constricted. Through my deep sobs, I heard God say to me, “you no longer wear that label, Sandi. It is not how I see you. You are free.”
The free uninhibited dance was not only a “dance-off” with other women. It was a catalyst for deliverance. It was a celebration with and through God, drawing me into the creative freedom he has in store for me. At the end of the conference, we were asked what discipline we wanted to explore and give ourselves to. I choose celebration. I want to delve into and study what celebration really means to me on a practical daily basis. I know joy and intimacy in Jesus is an exciting part of this. To celebrate also frees my creative expression to be without fear of condemnation or reproach. I will celebrate the truth of who Jesus is in me and who I am in Jesus.”