Recently, I heard creative guru Ken Robinson tell the story of Gillian Lynne. Gillian is choreographer of the Broadway hit Cats, which ran 21 years in London’s West End and 18 years on Broadway. She also directed and choreographed Phantom of the Opera. Impressive. But when she was a little girl, Gillian was a not so impressive — o.k., frankly a horrid — student. Her school thought she had a terrible learning problem and she couldn’t quit fidgeting. So her parents took her to see a specialist; hoping to figure out what could be done. After listening to Gillian’s mother voice her concerns, the man told Gillian that he wanted to speak to her mother alone for a few minutes in the other room. As they left his office, the specialist turned on the radio and — just outside the door — told her mom to turn around and watch. As soon as they left the room the girl was on her feet swaying to the music. The specialist said to Gillian’s mother, “Your daughter’s not sick…she’s a dancer. Take her to a dance school.” So she did. And, there the girl met others who, by her account, were just like her: they needed to move to think.
Gillian went on to become a gifted dance soloist, graduate from the Royal Ballet, open her own school and eventually meet Andrew Lloyd Webber, composer of the two mega-hit Broadway shows which she collaborated on. All it took was someone looking and really seeing her for who she was — for what was inside trying to wiggle its way out. And once that someone saw, once the people around her believed in her potential — Gillian’s creative capacity was unleashed. Her future was cast as she entered the dance studio. (I imagine somewhere deep in her creative spirit came a huge sense of “at last!“) But what if the specialist had gone along with the school, labeled her a problem, medicated her and left it at that?
Because it gives others a glimpse at our souls, sharing our creativity is risky. Mark Twain said: “Sing like no one’s listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching, and live like its heaven on earth.” It was only when Gillian danced — thinking no one was watching — that she was freed to choreograph her future. It must have been heaven.
In Jeremiah 1:1-9, God tells Jeremiah that He knew him before he was born and has set him apart to do great things. In that way, we are all like Jeremiah. Even he had excuses, but God would hear nothing of them! Like Gillian Lynne, we all have a dance inside us, too. And God has set the stage; our lives are a working production — choreographed to engage our unique combination of abilities. We have to show up, work hard, discipline ourselves to develop into our gifts but no one else can handle your part and you won’t be satisfied until you join in.
Your creativity is important…life-giving! Stop making excuses and enjoy the joy of your God-given talents.
Want an adventure? Think about it: How has your creativity gone unrecognized, misunderstood or resisted (by you or by others)? How have you been labeled — or perhaps, labeled yourself? What excuses have you made? Why? Who do you know who needs to embrace their gifting? How can you encourage both of you to “join in the dance”?