She danced by the brick retaining wall in front of her home, wearing tan corduroy pants and giggling at nothing but being a girl and being alive. When she was alone she was always herself. She was free from the burden of sharp words and downward glances that came for no reason and any reason at all. Alone, she could disappear into a world of thoughts and words and make-believe.
She had porcelain, doll-like skin speckled with freckles across her nose and cheeks, saucer blue eyes with lashes for miles, and a shy smile, but her nails were ragged from the gnawing of her teeth. She knew she was smart and the best athlete in the class, but at a very young age she knew she didn't belong. It didn't matter about looks or ability or breeding, she just wasn't accepted the way God made her. Alone was the only place she could find a home, and chewing her nails was all she could do to calm her nerves. She read God's word daily from the age of eight, but the audible voices seemed to be louder than the One that spoke to her spirit.
Was it the shyness that made her a magnet for ridicule or did the ridicule make her shy? As the years passed, she learned that it was both. Early, and in the most vulnerable years of her life, lethal words flew easily through the air and into her heart, making her skeptical and unable to trust anyone at all, except herself. Hearing over and over again all that was wrong with her, she turned inward, and when we turn inward, the world looks away because there isn't anything to see. When we fear people, we give them power over our lives. When we build a wall thick enough to protect us, it also makes us invisible. We can't reach out, and others won't reach in.
When we grow up believing we don’t belong, the emptiness that remains will become a hunger that we will seek to fill one way or another. We will keep seeking and finding nothing until we understand the love of the One who makes all things new. The emptiness is not something we grow out of; we have to be redeemed from it. Thankfully, we can be. Thankfully, we don't have to dance alone.