I am 38 yrs old, married to my college sweetheart now for 15 yrs and have been blessed with three children. My main job is being a mother and wife, something I didn’t predict for my future had you asked me in college as I was focused on my career path, physical therapy. Todd and I were married just before we both began our graduate degrees and had a great time living in San Francisco while we attended school. I worked until I had my second child and though I miss the hospital setting and helping people heal and move again, I know that the work I am doing within my family is where I am meant to be at this time in my life.
Being married to Todd is full of surprises…one of the things I fell in love with was his spontaneity and adventurous streak. But I couldn’t have predicted that one of the blessings that would come from the union would involve my love of dance. His sister, Mindi, a dance major at BYU formed a dance company and created, with a few others, a Christmas dance production for the Oakland Temple Hill’s Days of Christmas. The show, Behold the Gift, has been a testimony builder, a faith-sharing tool and an opportunity for personal fulfillment and meaning in my life. I have been so deeply affected by it that I count this as one of my greatest blessings.
I discovered my love and talent for dance in high school and continued to take classes in college until the dance dept. was closed at our university. After returning to the Bay Area with Todd, his sister invited me to audition and since that time, I have had the privilege of dancing in many productions and have had many spiritual experiences.
My first year in the show I had many insecurities about my talent or lack thereof. Mindi and others involved in producing assured me that our desire to share our testimonies through movement was the most important factor in what would come across to the audience. I have a strong testimony of this now. A dear friend dancing that year was injured and just hours before that evening’s performance, I learned her part and went onstage in her place. It was humbling to feel the power of the Holy Spirit guide me to fill this role. I know that Heavenly Father’s plan was moving forward and that I was able to do this because of it.
We typically perform three evenings and have a cast testimony meeting just prior to the last performance. I always look forward to this because everyone is on a spiritual high and is ready to share and build one another through testimony. Our relationships that have grown through 4 months of rehearsals are the foundation for being open with one another and sharing how the show has affected our lives. I will never forget one year in particular, a teenage girl in the cast shared her testimony and had me in tears. She had been withdrawn and often didn’t even seem to want to be at our rehearsals although I could see her dance talent when she was moving. She shared her testimony that final night, holding back tears and told us of her parent’s divorce and her struggle with her testimony. How coming to rehearsal each week would give her the strength she needed to get through another week. I had been so focused on the choreography and physical preparation for the show that I had failed to consider that for some dancers, the more important thing happening was with their spirit, their testimony. I have witnessed this over and over through the years.
Every year when auditions come around, I think of the sacrifice that my family has to make in order for me to be involved in this production. Weekly four hour rehearsals, commutes into Oakland and an absent mom and wife during performance week. It is never an easy decision as priority is family. Last year I did dance but could feel my body’s age affecting my recovery time post rehearsal. I felt slower and my body didn’t seem to move as quickly as the younger dancers. I was 20 years older than the average dancer so what did I expect, right? I was really struggling with whether or not to even quit. And then I had a rehearsal where I learned a piece set to “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. I have loved this hymn for many years and when I was dancing to it, I could feel the spirit so strongly, I knew that I was meant to be a part of the show. The movement felt effortless, it was like I had a power inside me that filled my extremities and gave extra grace to what I was doing. The words to the hymn were a part of my body and I felt like I was dancing my prayer. And then onstage during this particular piece, I would feel my eyes fill with tears and my body fill with light.
I love to dance and knowing that I can dance my testimony and share it with others has been an amazing experience for me. I have a greater appreciation and reverence for our physical bodies because of it. Heavenly Father has given us talents, dance being one of them, to be developed and used to strengthen each other. We are here with purpose and I am so lucky to know that one of my favorite things to do is also a way to testify of Christ. I know He lives.
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Heather, thank you for sharing this, you’ve changed my preconceptions about how to share a testimony!
The hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” is one of my favs too, I can only imagine how great it was to dance to it. So great that you have found such a wonderful avenue for sharing your talents.
I know dance can affect our spirit, because I always dance to make myself feel better. The right music and the right beat can make even the dirtiest dish seem like easy work.
Today I read this scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants 136:28
If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.
I can’t think of a better song to dance to than “Come Thou Font of Every Blessing” to praise the Lord through dance to.
What a wonderful opportunity for you to be involved with a group that promotes this spirituality.
I’ve always loved to dance. That’s one thing I miss from moving away from a college town.
Keep on dancing! 🙂
Love this. What a unique way to share your testimony. Thankyou.