Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Outgoing (05/05/11)
By Jessica Turner-Stotz
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It is a dance between the audience and the performer, a give and take, a willingly accepted illusion that one lives and breathes in and the other is given the chance to just watch, not taking a step from their seats. Their laughter feeds me; their expectant stillness empowers the ebb and flow of my story, the story of the other characters that dwell inside the stage lights with me. A story that exists only until the final bows, the curtain’s dramatic close and the spotlight shutting its mesmerizing eye, unlike my story that continues to be written the moment the mask is taken off.
Theater has always been a truly, powerful outlet for me. The stage beckoned to me from a young age as I battled insecurities involving weight, a father’s abandonment and depression. I had never been a shy girl; I had never been the class clown either. I was just a run-of-the-mill adolescent secretly searching for something that would set me apart from a crowd that would otherwise rather I just fit in.
I found Jesus about the same time I found theater. Middle school was a rough world to exist in, let alone stand out in, and finding both Jesus and theater would have done just that, set me apart. I can remember an especially lonely day in 6th grade, before I had found either, sitting at the end of a lunch table, eating alone. There’s probably a day in everyone’s lives when they feel lonely in a crowded room. That day was certainly mine. I was one of the popular girls in elementary school and just because I didn’t feel comfortable with the "new" popular crowd at the junior high, I was left to pick at my sack lunch, solo. Don’t feel too bad. I didn’t eat alone every day, just that one in particular, and I can’t even remember the reason why anymore. Had I only known then that I wasn’t really as alone as I felt. As I tried desperately to not stand out in my aloneness, Jesus sat beside me, with one hand on my shoulder, just waiting for me to acknowledge Him so we could strike up a conversation He’d been waiting my whole life to have.
When I later that year accepted Jesus into my heart and was cast as the lead in the school musical, I fell in love, one with the lover of my soul and the other with the passion of my heart, which God had planted there as he knit me together in my mother’s womb twelve years before. I began to blossom over time, embracing what I was made for, who I was made for, and reaching out to other people around me. The mediocre girl, became outgoing and passionate. I spoke up about things that mattered and entered into the performing arts with open arms, ready to learn and cultivate a talent I was excited to find I had, a talent I would later use to study Theater in college. God had patiently waited for the eyes of my heart to be opened, so that He could pluck those heartstrings to the tune he wanted them to play. Even as I grew, I always knew that it was He who had not only opened new doors for me as I aged, but the one who had opened me as a person, leaving me no reason to dwell within, but to dwell without, where He meant for all of His children to be, ready to further his eternal kingdom, ready to reach one more for Him. I’ve stepped onto countless stages, into different spotlights, and entertained numerous audiences, but the most important act of my life, has been in cultivating the story of my relationship with Christ and allowing Jesus to shine through me wherever I am, whether it’s onstage or off.
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