“Throw off the grave clothes and dance.” I didn’t know what this meant when the Lord spoke it to my heart last year.
Being a shy introvert, I’ve always had trouble dancing. I do much better when there are set steps like a waltz or a swing dance; I really struggle with free form. This word from the Lord didn’t make sense with what I was experiencing in pandemic life, uncertainty in finances, and difficulty in my marriage. Nevertheless, the word came: “throw off the grave clothes and dance.”
I took Empower One in 2015, and it was foundational to the work God was doing to free me from generational bondage, curses, unforgiveness, and loss. I was on a spiritual high, meeting with the Lord regularly, ministering to a group of ladies, and enjoying newfound freedom from bondage. To be honest, I thought I had arrived.
I took Empower Proclaim and Engage the following year and really enjoyed them. I was consistently hearing from the Lord and still involved in ministry. That spring, however, I got pregnant, and things began to change. I had a fairly easy pregnancy, but towards the end I developed gestational diabetes and then had a a c-section. Nothing could have prepared me for the storm that was about to hit. My bipolar depression and the sudden change in hormones caused a mania that prevented me from getting any sleep in the hospital, but no one noticed that. The storm intensified after we went home: I still couldn’t sleep, my medical team wasn’t communicating effectively, and I was having difficulty bonding with my son. I wanted nothing more than to hold him, but was afraid he would pick up on what I was feeling. I had difficulty nursing, and while this was a tremendous blow, it ended up being a gift because it meant others could care for him while I was unable to.
I didn’t know it was possible to get postpartum mania. It was more intense than any of my bipolar episodes. I see now that God was getting my attention about some areas He still wanted to heal.
As the postpartum mania faded, I struggled with what ministry looked like. I missed the richness of ministry to others. I wanted things to be like they were before, but I also really wanted to be a good mom. I’m still learning that balance. God is still getting my attention.
In 2019 when my family moved from New Jersey to western Pennsylvania, God was working to address some things in us – namely, living within our means. Selling our house in New Jersey last April and cutting up all of our credit cards felt like death after death: the death of dreams, the death of relationships, the death of parts of ourselves that needed to die but still hurt when they did. The Father was disciplining and refining us.
2020 was a reset. In March, right as the pandemic took hold here, I was put on unemployment by my job. Later that week, I ended up in the hospital after being certain that Christ was returning. After two weeks without any visitors, I returned home. Little did I know that my season of healing was beginning.
God began to restore our finances. I had three months at home with my family. My husband and I participated in marriage counseling, and we were able to focus on each other. It was such a refreshing time after the strain of the previous years. At the end of June, I returned to work and I was different. The discipline of the Lord had been intense, but had also opened my mind, soul, and spirit to experience the Father’s love. I was now able to serve my bosses from a position of “daughter of the Most High.” Throughout the year, the Lord miraculously provided in very tangible ways as we yielded to His refinement. We had to experience his discipline so we could experience his blessing.
While I knew my position as a daughter of God intellectually, it has only been in the last year that I have begun to experience the Father’s love at a heart level. As I have felt the Lord’s love, it has softened me: softened my heart, softened my anger, softened those crusty places on my soul that still need healing. I truly am a daughter.
So, when I heard the Lord say, “Throw off the grave clothes and dance”, He was declaring an end to the season of death I had found myself in. I was dead and bound, just like in the story of Lazarus, but now I’m alive. I must throw off the grave clothes and begin to step into my freedom and worship as a daughter dancing before the Lord.
The key to deliverance from bondage has been cooperation with the Holy Spirit, even when that cooperation felt excruciating. I’m not who I once was. I’ve experienced healing in my mind, soul, and spirit, and I get to leave the vestiges of my death behind me. To move from death to life and dancing can be scary, but it is an expression of the freedom and fierce worship the Lord wants to release through me.
How about you, beloved? Are you ready to step out in your calling and dance?