The Dance of the Devoted Daughter (Jul – Aug 2009)

By Matt Dabbs

by Rhesa Higgins
July – August, 2009

I should have said no. I should have voiced all these fears before this minute when they are introducing me. I could have postponed until after the baby got here, at least I would have been able to breathe then! Instead, I had put on my minister’s wife smile and agreed.

So, here I am. Eight months pregnant and standing before 125 people from our church that I don’t know personally. There are elders, ministry leaders, influential people and my husband’s employer in the room. I have been invited here to give my testimony, I am supposed to share the deepest part of my identity with a group that is likely to be opposed to what I find myself called to: specifically, my call to ministry.

“When pressed to come up with a title for tonight’s conversation,” I began, “I settled on ‘The Dance of the Devoted Daughter.’ I knew from a very young age that I wanted to live life to please God. The deepest motivation, in the beginning, came from wanting to see my daddy who died when I was four years old. I knew that he was alive in heaven and I wanted to get there. To get there, you had to make God happy. So, I set out to dance through life for His pleasure.”

The audience smiled polite smiles back at me. A few dared to chuckle. One looked pained. A pillar blocked my view of my husband’s face. I wished it would move to block my view of the elder sitting next to him.

“Eventually, my dance led me to recognize that I wanted to live for God, not just die to live in heaven. At nine years old, I was baptized. I think that I expected something magical that day. I thought that I would suddenly have a specific job for God in my elementary school. Instead, I had to study for a math test the next day. Surely, God wanted a more spectacular dance than that.”

An elderly couple in the second row smiled encouragingly to me. The intelligent eyes beneath his white hair had seen more than 80 years of life. He was my grandfather’s age. My grandfather thought I was a feminist lunatic. My own grandfather found it impossible to accept me, his flesh and blood. She too reminded me of my grandmother, with her perfectly set hair and the vague scent of menthol lotion.

What would they think when they heard the rest?

“I realized again at age 17 that my dance was not my own. While a freshman in college and planning to study law, God called me to ministry. The call, while not audible, was unmistakable and I changed my major to Bible. My parents were concerned about my ability to make a living after graduating and I was intimidated by the male dominated classrooms. The spotlight on this dance made me wish to sit in the audience but I steeled myself to dance the role I was given.”

I looked down at my notes, needlessly, to avoid eye contact. When I looked up again, I stared at the back wall.

“Just one short year ago, after a series of disappointments, God confirmed and refined the call. A life of public ministry is the path to which I’ve been called.

“I find myself living in a season of preparation that has lasted far longer than I anticipated. I am beginning to wonder who needs more preparing, me or the church? Whichever the case, I dance the many roles I’ve been given: wife, mother, minister’s spouse, ministry leader, called by God. I try to dance them all for the glory of God, trusting that He will tell this daughter devoted to Him when it is time to step into the spotlight.”

I plied my eyes from the back wall as I finished and looked into the faces before me. I had been asked to give the audience a chance to respond. I took a deep breath and searched for a friendly face. My husband was still hidden and the elder looked angry. My eyes settled on the elderly couple in the front and I braced myself for shock and disdain in their expressions.

They were smiling and his eyes glistened with unshed tears.

He raised his hand and I nodded toward him. “Please forgive us,” he said. “We have been slow but I am trying. Please forgive my generation for stopping you from honoring God’s call. We need to know that God is bigger than we imagined. You clearly seek to follow God and I won’t be the one to stand in your way. I need you to patiently lead me because this is a new journey for me. The church needs you to be gentle but determined.”

I felt tears stinging the back of my eyes and throat. While they looked like my grandparents, this man was asking for my forgiveness and leadership. The irony was that his bold statement warmed the entire room to me. Others voiced their encouragement and affirmation.

Cleansing tears washed over my face. I had expected anger and rejection, never confirmation. There were many who chose silence and their eyes spoke volumes of disapproval. But, they chose silence that day and let the voices of acceptance reign.

Maybe, just maybe, there is hope for my dance of devotion.New Wineskins

Rhesa HigginsRhesa Higgins was called to ministry at the age of 17, which led her to earn a degree from Abilene Christian University focusing on youth and family ministry. She is married to Chad Higgins, worship minister at Highland Oaks church of Christ. Together they are raising their three children; Raemey, Ryleigh, and Caysson.

Rhesa is a busy mom in Dallas, Texas! She writes for Highland Oaks, and other clients, as well as a few articles for herself. She also speaks to women’s ministries across the state. Her message focuses on her desire to dance the dreams that God has set and encouraging others to do the same. She has a passion for helping women discover their spiritual gifts and their niche in the body of Christ. You can read more at [www.danceofthedevoteddaughter.blogspot.com].

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1581 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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