When I got married I wanted to dance. I don’t mean I was so in love that I felt like dancing. I mean there was that too. But, really I wanted dance to literally be a part of our ceremony. Or, at least, afterwards? I had grand schemes, all locked away in my mind. For several reasons none of this occurred, but there was a woman I knew who did dance. So I asked her to dance (for me) during part of the ceremony. I never told her though that I was asking her to dance in my place.
She danced with so much joy and abandon my heart was bursting as she literally leapt from one side of the sanctuary to the other. That’s the way I remember it anyways.
After she was done and was passing me she knelt down and whispered in my ear, “Raynna, I was dancing for you!”. Well, if I was ever a glowing bride, the glow level had to have hit a new peak at that moment.
Something deep inside me knew that my new life beginning that day would be marked by freedom. As I woke up a couple mornings later in the arms of my husband, our bedroom seemed flooded in sunlight, and he whispered into my ear,…
“I have loved you with an everlasting love”.
I remember closing my eyes again as I took a deep warm breath in, basking—soaking up and leaning close into his adoration. I remember joy. I remember knowing he meant those words and that they came from beyond him.
I was no longer Raynna Hill, nor Raynna Myers. I was Raynna who was loved with an everlasting love. But I didn’t really know. That proved true when we would get into arguments and I would lash out in fear. I was afraid and wondering if he was going to leave now. Now that he saw the ugly part of “Raynna who is lov…”, well, let’s not say that part out loud right now—in all my hot tempered glory.
But, I didn’t say any of that of course. If I had known how to say it, maybe I would have. If I had known what it really meant that freedom would be my bridal inheritance, maybe I would have danced and leapt? It took some time though. It took all the wrong words and a bunch of missed opportunities for dancing. It took hitting very real limits and constraints. It took feeling like I was being squeezed through an eye of a needle…before words and dancing would become my own.
A long time ago my oldest brother and I were having a conversation. I didn’t feel like he loved the conversation we were having but then he stopped and he said something I’ve never forgotten. He seemed, to me, to be trying so hard to be gracious it compelled me to listen closer. And he was gracious. He said, “This reminds me of the story where the school children were told to go outside for recess.”
Here’s the story as best as I can remember it: They went out to a huge sprawling playground surrounded by rolling hills, a wonderland of sorts, especially if you’re in grade school and just finished your least favorite subject. But, the strangest thing would happen. They all, every day, would congregate right in the middle of this beautiful space provided for them. Always within this certain circumference that they were sure they were safe within. They had fun, played tag and all, but none of them would go beyond the unknown…well, because it was uncertain. What if they got in trouble, what if it wasn’t OK? No one knew.
So the teachers got together upon watching this loss unfold, realizing that this situation was never going to change without some intervention. The next day the children went out to play to find markers had been placed, clearly defining how far they were allowed and safe to explore.
Well, their tiny nucleus enlarged. And not just a little. They started out and didn’t stop until they reached the boundary markers themselves! Exploring every nook and cranny, tree and hill, in between—they were filled with delight.
Before there were boundaries marked for the children in how far they could explore and run, they were afraid. Once the boundaries were known, they were emboldened to make new choices. Yes, in time, a few climbed over and looked around the boundaries too. Of course they did. The teachers didn’t think they wouldn’t. But that’s a story for another day.
Today, our boundaries, our constraints—these are here for a purpose, with a design—toward freedom. Maybe these words for some of you will be the way my friend danced for me. There’s nothing wrong with that. We need each other. We need our limitations. We need boundaries. There is a time and place for everything under the sun. This is gift. Yet, at the end of it all, above it all, beneath it all, is one thing that all the stories (good or ugly), dreams (dashed or fulfilled), and all the boundaries lead us to.
We need sacred things to help us hear and see this freedom singing. We need relationships and the lack of them, places and spaces and the loss of them. We need times that are set aside and called “sacred” and we need “ordinary now”, even if we don’t know it yet. Don’t say if it’s all sacred none of it is. That’s not true. It’s all sacred we just can’t know that all the time yet. It’d blow our minds way too hard.
But, like a little secret we know today, and forget tomorrow, know this: marriage, abandonment, motherhood, emptiness, home, lost years, sabbath, Monday, strength, grief, joy, questions, knowledge, mystery, night, day—all of these are invitations we often confuse with stale words to our ears, like “limitations” or “laws”. They sure do mark boundaries. But how deep will be our loss if we miss this: they are markers, they are blazing arrows toward joy within a kingdom that is freely ours to explore.
The space a woman in labor inhabits as she births a new life into the world, as she dies to herself? That’s sacred. It’s defined. It’s beyond her control. It’s painful. But all these things, including the pain, point the way, teach the way. The way to life, the way to freedom. It’s the song in the wind, a whisper in our ear.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”* -Jesus
“The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him;”*
-Paul in a letter to Timothy
You are loved with an everlasting love, this is your inheritance. There is a thief who wants to steal it, wants to tell us the truth in the most twisted ways. But in Jesus, Yeshua the Messiah, we’re the people of the song. The song sang from the most ancient of days. Let’s play, dance and sing.
Adventuring onward in freedom with you,
P.S. I’m relaunching my book this August. Coming soon to Amazon & Kindle!
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You know how life in all it’s beauty can be painful? I am an author, photographer, doula, wife and mama seeking to capture the fine art of real life and follow these hints to where Mercy leads in the midst of it all. I want to listen, pray, and fill with courage, together. This is where I share my journey, with the aim to encourage you in yours.
*II Timothy 2:11