Secure in the Source

When we are securely rooted in personal intimacy with the source of life, it will be possible to remain flexible without being relativistic, convinced without being rigid, willing to confront without being offensive, gentle and forgiving without being soft, and true witnesses without being manipulative . ~ Henri Nouwen

You could hear the collective intake of air. She’d fallen. They waited impatiently for her get up. Everyone knew the dance. They were embarrassed for her. She didn’t even seem to be trying to hit her marks.

An audible groan came from the audience. There was a short silence, a pregnant pause, before the whispering began: What ‘s wrong with her? Why doesn’t she get up? She’s ruined here!

They confirmed each others thoughts with raised eyebrows as they pelted the stage with candy and popcorn and ice from their sodas. Impatient, the foot stomping started in the far back and crept up the aisles. Even the VIP seats, the ones saved for family and friends and important patrons began to vibrate. Why won’t she just dance the dance?

If she heard them, she didn’t show it. She didn’t show anything. She hadn’t forgotten the steps. She was weary and blistered and tired of dancing. She remained crumpled and still. The spotlight swept the stage and panned the crowd, pausing on a woman who had begun working her way toward the aisle from the middle of the very last row.

As she approached the stage, the whisperers shifted their focus, urging the stranger, prompting her as she moved toward the front: Good for you! It’s about time someone sets her straight! She’s an embarrassment!

 Encouraged by each others indignation, the audience began to hiss like disgruntled fans at a sporting event. Tell her if she can’t dance, we think she might be happier somewhere else.

As the woman made her way onto the stage, the crowd silenced in anticipation. She looked at the sea of scorn and quietly said: Go home. The show is over.

Just like that, the stage lights dimmed and the house lights came up. The audience shrugged into their protective clothing and turned their backs. No one noticed the lone silhouette heading for the exit sign, silently leaving the church.

I disconnected from the church that day when I found myself broken on the stage. My problem was, I wasn’t secure in the Source. It was several years before I made a physical exit and several more before I found a church that didn’t require dancing.

I found people who were flexible without being relativistic, convinced without being rigid, willing to confront without being offensive, gentle and forgiving without being soft, and true witnesses without being manipulative.

Their music called me from the open windows. It was a simple tune, the sweet song of love and redemption and grace.

Author: Debbie

A former counselor and public speaker, I'm grateful for many, many things - God's grace most of all!

35 thoughts on “Secure in the Source”

  1. It is so true that at these moments in our lives we will find more people shouting loudly than those who dare to show compassion. So like the life of Jesus.

    1. Dear Judi –
      The beauty in this for me is finally seeing my role in the problem. For years I blamed it on the audience. Now I see the role I played as a performer. That’s been a grace. 😀
      ~ Debbie

      1. Judi –
        Such a good point. You generally hear hindsight used in a derisive way – but that is how we find much wisdom!
        Thank you, my friend,
        ~ Debbie

  2. no sorry about the sad. i vividly remember being so surprised by the whole actor on a stage theme of your fairy tale. i don’t remember this particular scene. just yesterday i pulled out my workbook (oh they have re-written it….you would be so happy)! the whole idea of writing letters back and forth to yourself can still seem strange to me after all this time but, it works. by that i mean telling yourself the truth and the process of writing it out seem s to work it into my heart. i think that is what you are doing in your blog. thanks for letting me be part of your journey.

    1. Oh Gaye –
      I’m sorry. You were there when I wrote the long version of this l o n g ago. Thank you for being such a wonderful mentor to me in Christ Life.
      I mean this to be a true story of pain, but more than that, it’s a story of responsibility and redemption. I can now see my responsibility in all that happened at CV. I just couldn’t see it back then. God is good. Life is good. I’m greatly blessed.
      my love to you, dear friend,
      ~ Debbie

    1. chasingtheperfectmoment –
      Thank you.
      Nouwen is one of those that is able to speak to the heart because he became so well acquainted with his own. I have much to learn from this his example.
      ~ Debbie

  3. I spent a good part of my life living this way, that is on the recieving end of not performing to expectations. Not a good place to be. I can really say I’m sorry you had to go through all that Debbie. Thank God all churches are not like this.

    The love of Christ does not include ridicule of those that do not dance to the exact same tune as everyone else. There is plenty of room for difference in the body of Christ.

    Thanks for a true look at something not so good. I like your honesty even in the hard things.

    Blessings sister

    1. Greg –
      Certainly part of what I’ve learned is my role in choosing to dance the dance – year after year after year. I started going to that church when I was 22 and left when I was 47.
      It’s taken a bit of time to gain perspective. I was so young and so eager to please both God and man. I made the mistake of letting man tell me how to please God.
      That was my fault, not the churches.
      Thank you for always extending grace, my friend,
      ~ Debbie

    1. Lori – I so wish that for you. I have a job now that requires me to every day – weekends and holidays are just another day in this business – so I’m not currently able to go to church. But God did bring great healing to my heart through the love of the dear brothers and sisters in tiny St Matts in Oregon. I’m forever grateful.
      ~ Debbie

  4. What strikes me as I read this, Debbie–is that so many churches are “all about the numbers” (how many seats in the sanctuary, how much money in the offering box, how many they’ve led to Christ). Yet they are clueless, when it comes to acting on Christ’s example–He taught us to walk in love and grace and peace. He said nothing (zero, zilch, nada) about dancing to the tune of others, including the church leaders. I am broken-hearted when I hear how the church has hurt some people–especially the ones who are then unable to separate people’s attitudes, from God’s. And I grow peeved and weary with the convenient response that, “the church is not perfect–because there are no perfect people”. That’s true–and I don’t expect perfection–but when I hurt someone, it is incumbent upon me to repent and seek forgiveness. It’s not just “polite”–it’s God’s rules.

    The church has a God-ordained obligation to be a place where broken people can come to get healed, strengthened and renewed to do the work God has purposed for them to do. It is not a theater to showcase an elite dance troupe, for the entertainment of “elite” patrons. Love to you~~from sis Caddo, who can’t dance a lick (or sing, for that matter)

    1. Dear Sis Caddo –
      What a wonderful, thoughtful response.
      I should just make your entire comment as a post!
      I’m always a little bewildered by believers who get defensive about other people sharing anything less the positive about the church.
      We are the church. We are the body. If we refuse to see how we hurt people, why we aren’t a living light, then how will it ever change?
      I grow peeved and <em>weary with the convenient response that, “the church is not perfect–because there are no perfect people”. That’s true–and I don’t expect perfection–but when I hurt someone, it is incumbent upon me to repent and seek forgiveness. It’s not just “polite”–it’s God’s rules.
      Well said, my friend. Hurt is hurt – whether it’s caused collectively or individually, we have a responsibility to repent and ask for forgiveness. I don’t think that’s something that comes easily for many – maybe that why it’s so hard for the church.
      I can’t dance a lick either, so I guess it’a good thing I finally quit trying. 😀
      love and grace and songs for your heart,

      1. Hey Sis, I wonder if you’d bear with me to add one more thing? (you can always edit/delete!) I’m rather intrigued with the “battle” between Christians who take the view that “you’re responsible for your reactions”–and those who say, “if you’re hurt–then I’ve said/done something wrong”. Again, the former seems pretty convenient to me. Whereas the latter reflects so much more of Christ’s love. Really, how much does it cost to tell someone you’re sorry they were hurt–that it was unintentional on your part, and ask their forgiveness? After that, it IS their responsibility. God bless you. Love to all at “Grace” church today!! sis Caddo

      2. Caddo –
        I agree that I’m responsible for my own actions and my reactions. But to me, that means it’s always all on me.

        What I do with my feelings in response to being hurt is my responsibility. When I hurt someone else, making amends is my responsibility, too.

        When we taught conflict resolution, we always encouraged people to apologize for causing hurt – even unintentional hurt. It’s healing and healthy and loving.

        If hurting someone was intentional, then it’s better to say nothing. An insincere apology is far worse than none at all.
        “They are too thin-skinned” just doesn’t fly with me.
        Neither does hurting others under the guise of a sermon prayer (you know those prayers that are really a lecture) or as a “Christian duty”.

        C.S.Lewis says the greatest sin is pride. To respond to your rhetorical question – 😀 – that’s what it costs sometimes to tell someone you’re sorry and ask forgiveness – pride.
        I’m with you 100%
        Too much hurt, too little humility.
        love and grace to you, Caddo P.G.,S.K.
        ~ Debbie

  5. Oh we dance the puppet dance of approval – ending up weary and bitter
    We cross the line towards maturity when we give up and give in to inner-refelection knowing we were wrong, forgiving ourselves and growing forward
    thank you for sharing this life-story with such honesty

    1. Susie –
      Not only would I have hurt less, but more importantly, I would have caused less hurt if I’d given the “dance of approval’ years sooner. And yes, thank you for adding forgiving ourselves and growing forward. After I quite dancing, I was lost in self-condemnation for far too long.
      Thank you for your wise thoughts my friend,

  6. Why are we so quick to jump to judgment and condemn others? Why can we not first put ourselves in their shoes for an instant and see what they are seeing, feel what they are feeling? Why do we not first consider what our reactions will do to their heart and mind, and support instead of tear down?

    My heart broke for you as I envisioned the scene. I have also been on the receiving end of ridicule and condemnation; and while not on such a public level, it was still painful. And why? Only to make them feel better about themselves.

    Oh, that we would learn to love as Jesus loved, and consider the consequences before we react! Love and redemption and grace should be the automatic responses to another’s pain.

    Thanks so much Debbie for sharing and inspiring us to a better love.

    1. Dear Drusilla –
      I’m consistently touched by your honest, tender heart. Thank you.
      I really love this Nouwen quote because I think he address the fear that leads many to be so harsh.
      To remain flexible without being relativistic, convinced without being rigid, willing to confront without being offensive, gentle and forgiving without being soft…
      I think it’s often fear that causes rigid, confrontational Christianity.
      Segments of the church have become so afraid of being too tolerant that there isn’t a pew where a weary sinner can sit without feeling like it will be disinfected as soon as they leave.
      There are wonderful churches and wonderful Christians, but I think we do the church a great disservice when we become defensive and insist that it’s perfect. Augustine didn’t. Luther didn’t. Calvin didn’t. Knox didn’t. We are the body and we need reformation so that we all “love better”.
      Thank you, dear Dru,

  7. This is profoundly accurate. I get misty reading it. I know this happened. I’m so sorry. When I posted this morning, I didn’t realize you’d posted this. Thank you, God– for grace, for healing, for St Matt’s. I thank Him that you’re no longer doing that ‘dance’ of approval. There’s so much authentic footwork filled with wisdom and joy in you today. I will try to get your work into print.You are an inspiration to many.

    1. I am so glad you found spirituality that spoke to you. You did indeed. You are an amazing woman who focuses on solutions. The first post was more about the pain and humiliation. I can relate … and i hope your new faith has eased the pain of the original “religious” experience. LOVE mel You give me strength to find the “way” to live a balanced life without extremes and judgments.

      1. deal mel-
        A funny thing happened on the way to the blogosphere last night.
        I had first written a much longer version of this as an assignment for a Christ-Life class in was in 6 or 7 years ago when I was still stinging from the experience.
        Last summer, I rewrote a condensed bit for an early post here at TMG.I was trying to make it “Private” when I accidentally re-posted it last night,
        Since it had already flown out across the cyber waves, I decided I needed to make some changes.
        When I read it last night, I could see how much difference this last year has made in my ability to see my own part in the dance, instead of just placing blame on the church I’d attended for 25 years.
        God has graciously bestowed His love and care on this weary dancer.
        Your open heart, opens mine, melis.
        love and grace my friend,
        ~ Debbie

    2. You know what, Debby?
      You’re one of the first people I thought of when I was re-reading this Nouwen this quote.
      I was thinking of how much it describes you! 😀
      love and prayers, my friend,

  8. “the sweet song of love, redemption and grace” sounds like a wonderful place to fall upon. God bless you as you dance with Him tonight! love and prayers – the other deb

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