Monday, October 4, 2010

Guest Post: Unrestrained

You've already met Traci of Circular Praise and Tracings in a previous guest post. She hoops it regularly at her church for fun, fitness, and emotional and spiritual well-being. Also, check out her Zazzle shop. Thanks, Traci!

Hi, Kitchen Courage readers! Beth asked for guest bloggers to fill space while she’s away at Hoopcamp, and since I can’t be there with her (hoop one for me, girl!), I thought I’d help hold down the cyberfort.

As y’all know, Beth writes about her body image and eating issues from the perspective of someone who’s suffered from anorexia. I deal with disordered eating too, but because it’s neither starving myself nor bingeing and purging, most people wouldn’t call it a disorder. Poor food choices maybe, or “she loves her chocolate, “ but not what it really is – using food to stave off boredom, depression, rejection, etc., instead of simply to fuel my spirit’s rental car.

I know what the “right foods” are, and I do eat some of them; it’s just that I also like the “wrong foods,” the ones that lead to weight gain and metabolism imbalances. I acknowledge this, and I realize that for the sake of my health and quality of life, I need to make changes. Not to mention that as a Christian, I know my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and I should be keeping said temple in decent shape…

And that brings me to the title of this post. Mandisa, former American Idol contestant and current contemporary Christian singer, has a song on her True Beauty album titled “Unrestrained.” It’s about worshipping God with everything in you, regardless of your situation. It beautifully illustrates the progression of a believer from an intellectual understanding of God to a fully lived relationship with Him.

I love dancing and hooping to it because like the lyrics, the music builds from a calm start to an unabashed lovefest by the end. It’s stirring and wonderful, and I wish I could dance it for my congregation, but I’d probably knock over one or both of the projectors we use to put songs on the wall for praise and worship. It’s not a song for small movements and small spaces…

But even if I can’t dance to “Unrestrained” for my church, I can dance. And for the first time in over two years, I did just that last weekend. We held a four-service, three-day revival, and I danced at two of the services.

The first time was Friday evening, to Casting Crowns’ “Who Am I?”, which was sung by two of our congregants. That meant I wasn’t alone on the platform, and I was dancing to a song I knew pretty well.

The second time was a bit different. It was Sunday morning in front of a full congregation. I was using a CD I’d bought on Saturday, and the song (“Beauty of the Cross” performed by FEE) was one I’d never heard until I found it in the local Lifeway store.

Also, I was on the platform without any other warm bodies, so my nerves threatened to take over in the form of an Elvis Presley-like leg twitch and lip tic reminiscent of his famous sneer. A few deep breaths and a quick prayer helped settle me, but it wasn’t easy getting through that mostly-freestyle dance.

It went well – I didn’t forget the lyrics and end up standing there doing nothing, or knock over the projectors, or pass out from overexertion. Best of all from the perspective of my body image issues, I didn’t receive any criticism, only comments on how beautiful and graceful the dance was. For someone who’s been on the receiving end of judgemental remarks about how overweight people shouldn’t be allowed to do dance ministry, hearing such encouraging compliments is not only appreciated, it’s actually healing.

Beth asked the other day if we were not-waiting-to-feel (insert arbitrary marker of goodness here) last week, and if so how. As I read that post, I realized the dancing was my “how.” Now I just need to do more of it (and keep hooping, of course), and allow God to take away the restraints that keep me from being fully alive in Him.

How about you? Have you had an unrestrained moment recently? What was it?


  1. Stephanie (dancingwaOctober 5, 2010 at 5:45 AM

    First, that is a fantastic picture! And thank you for the post; I love the line "It’s not a song for small movements and small spaces…" and I think it may end up being a writing prompt of mine in the near future.And to answer your question - I had one yesterday without realizing it. I was walking around downtown Baltimore in the rain and at a certain point, I was smiling and looking up at the buildings without worrying about the rain making my hair frizzy, about looking like a tourist, without all of that extra chatter going on ... I was enjoying the cool morning with the rain and the feel of being in my body, enjoying the city.

  2. Sounds wonderful, Steph! Sometimes we need to let our inner child come out and play in the rain, you know?Thanks for the comments. Feel free to use the thing about the song as a writing prompt. Have a blessed day!Beth, thanks for letting me post again. :)

  3. Thank you for your guest post! I really enjoyed your previous post and am glad to see you “back” at Kitchen Courage. I appreciate your honesty and your openness, as it gives others COURAGE to face whatever they may! I am not familiar with dance ministry! Is this something specific to your church or is it a widespread movement? Is it non-denominational? I’d love to learn more!The focus of my yoga class today was the “root chakra” which represents feeling safe, trusting, grounded, and entitled to a purpose in life. I feel like you have found these strengths through your experience dancing. You found a safe place to express yourself with the purpose of praising God! That is so wonderful! I guess my “unrestrained” moment was just this morning when I didn’t feel well and opted to forgo my morning gym session and gauge how I felt later. I did feel well enough later, but to break my “routine” is tough for me. That probably sounds strange but I’m “one of those” really attached to routine/exercise people. Thanks for helping me recognize this “listening to my body” as a strength today.

  4. Thanks for reading, Clare! To answer your question, dance and other expressive movement have been part of many religions' worship traditions for centuries. For example, the Bible mentions that King David "danced with all his might" in worship when the Israelites returned the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem after it had been in captivity among Israel's enemies for a long time. Here in North America, dance and other body movement worship (sign, mime, drama, etc.) wasn't practiced much until the last 30 years or so. Now, though, there are a lot of churches, both nondenominational and in the mainline denominations, that recognize the value expressive worship has in both praising God and ministering to people. For instance, people who might never set foot in a church often are open to attending an event where music, dance and drama (including clown skits) are used to deliver the same message the preacher normally would on a Sunday morning.Thanks for giving me an opportunity to spread the love about worship dance. And congrats on recognizing your unrestrained moment. May you experience many more. :)


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