I don't really know what I want to write about other than about the beauty of life that I've been discovering recently. It's all about the true journey, right?
Something I realized within the past couple weeks is that I will never end up helping people or changing the world if I'm not being honest with the people around me, and that includes you all on here.
I made the decision to not create a blog for LIFE ON POINTE because honestly, there's no reason for that at the moment. Instead I created the extension, The Ellie Way as a way to be myself apart from LIFE ON POINTE. I want to make this very clear: I am the creator and founder of LIFE ON POINTE. It is not who I am, it is not an extension of who I am. It is merely a platform I created to educate the community and support the members of the Arts & Entertainment industry.
Speaking of who I am and who I am not, that is what I will be talking about today... my identity journey. I'll give it to you simply on here, but if you want a more in depth understanding in regards to this particular post, you can listen to my podcast on anchor.fm/theellieway that will be live as you read this.
Recently I discovered how much my identity was rooted in the things I do and in the people I am around. It caused very unhealthy mindsets to be created within myself that were causing more harm than good. After a long process with someone, I realized that I am only responsible for myself, my choices, and my reactions.
It sounds so simple. You know when you know something in your mind and you say, "well yeah, duh," but you don't have this revelatory understanding of how practical the simple truth really is? That is how I felt after having a sudden revelatory understanding of what that looked like.
For years, I've been known as "the dancer," "the pastor's daughter," "the girl who's wise beyond her years," but never "Ellie." I felt that many people only got to know me because of who's daughter I am and because of what I do rather than me for who I am underneath all of that. I thought being a pastor's daughter didn't affect me in the ways I soon realized it did. I didn't think that my identity was so deeply rooted in my dancing until I suddenly did.
For many years, I was told I was "mature for my age" by countless amounts of people from a very young age. I was a weird kid with a burning passion and hunger for God, so I guess I wasn't weird, I was just unique. I never fit in with anyone my age, I was teased and made fun of, and yet it just didn't effect me. I could get my feelings hurt, I had a heart, I had emotions, but I was so in tune with God, living truly in a whole other dimension and realm with Him on the earth, that it didn't take affect when people told me I was stupid or weird or whatever. I had a compassionate heart for people who were different from me, like those with birth defects, mental challenges, physical ailments, and was constantly praying and laying hands on people. If I felt the heart of God for someone, I would share it with them.
When I was in Awana, I had a friend who was deaf. He was a little older than me, but while everyone teased him for the slur in his words or the fact he couldn't hear, I helped him with the homework. He told me then, when I was 9 or 10, that I was different from everyone else, not only because I didn't call him dumb, but because I told people Jesus loved them even when they were being mean.
Like I said, I was a weird kid.
When I became a teenager, I sadly grew out of that connection and found myself in a world that was less than pleasant, and I experienced that hurt without the connection with God for years. I had no identity, I had just me, my dancing, and being a pastor's kid. I had almost no understanding for what was going on with me until about a year ago, though it was being taught to me on a regular basis. For thinking I was quite self-aware, I soon realized I really wasn't.
I'm a bit strong willed. I'm gung-ho. I'm a steadfast person. What I believe is what I believe until it's not anymore. I'm what a lot of people will call black-&-white, but recently, God's been showing me that there is a lot of grey in the world, and yes, a lot of which is self-created.
In the journey of finding myself, I went back to my journals. Younger Ellie was even wiser than the current me can be, and she even made better choices. Yet I learned that she made better choices because of who she was then, and did not have the understanding of everything that she has now. So I went back to my journals and read everything that Younger Me wrote. I realized that all of that was foundation. It was all engrained in me, but now, it's harder to make a choice. I have more excuses why I can or can't, will or won't, do or don't. I have more choices now than I did at seven. And that's how it's supposed to be.
It took me going through a traumatizing experience only about a couple months ago now (though it feels longer than that) for me to get back to a sense of what I used to have and to cultivate a sense of self-awareness. This is something I wrote at the end of April:
Sometimes you have to lose what feels like everything to discover what it is you actually believe. It's a scary & lonely process at times, but one that becomes worth it. Just a couple weeks ago my whole perception of God changed. It went as far as me questioning His existence, but only for a second, because I knew God was real. I know He is good. And suddenly I faced this question: If God is good, why do bad things happen?
God doesn't cause bad things to happen, but He lets certain things take place so we can grow. Just because we face challenges, uncomfortable situations, and pain doesn't mean that God's not good.
It's okay if you don't agree with everything God says or does, and it's okay to be upset or frustrated with Him. However if you choose to agree or disagree or obey or disobey God, then you must be prepared to take responsibility for the consequences, good or bad.
God is here, and in our storms, the more connected we are with God the less we are affected by the storms. He gives us the ability to go through life in true relationship with Him; He makes life's cruelty much more bearable.
It was only through those traumatizing experiences that I found my voice, my freedom, and it became an opportunity to revisit the values I created for myself, the lists of who I want to be, who I want to surround myself with, and any other list of expectations that may have been created in the process of my life. As I said earlier, Younger Me was wise and mature for her age, but the current me that exists on the earth is someone a bit different than that girl Younger Me was.
Parts of my foundation that had been laid had gaps and cracks in it, and I needed to repave my foundation and my values. Some are the same as they were when Younger Me was making the choices, but some were let go of, outgrown. Some were released unto the feet of Jesus so I didn't have to stress about being perfect or find people to surround myself with that are perfect for me. Some are new and found a place to piece itself into the puzzle, such as making choices to choose to be at peace instead of choosing irritation, love for anger, forgiveness for bitterness, and so on and so forth.
When I let go of the stresses of being perfect, letting go of my expectations of other people, letting go of keeping up with being mature for my age, I chose to be who I am right now and release the little details to Father God. In that, I found the freedom I was desperately searching for. It feels amazing to know I can make the choices I make and still be loved by the Creator of all things. I know I can take ownership of the things I do and answer to the results without harming myself or hating myself for failing, because to me, life is no longer pass or fail. Life is life, and I must live it.
Life is beautiful. Life is a gift. I spent so much of my younger years fearful of the future, trying to plan everything to the last detail. I spent so much time on trying to become independent, to do everything myself, only to realize that I have no idea what the heck I am doing. Does anyone when it comes to the matters of life?
Yeah, I'm introverted. So what? Just because I'm introverted doesn't mean I need to shut people out and hate them for existing. Seventeen-y/o Me might disagree, but that's okay. That alone shows me I've grown. I spent much of my time running from people and shutting them out when really, it was the cure to the cancer I was causing myself- the cancer known as stress and anxiety. You know, anxiety, depression, and being stressed is not a cool thing, and just because everyone else seemingly has it doesn't mean you have to have it too. You get to choose.
Instead of me saying, "I have anxiety; I have depression; I am stressed;" I have flipped the tables because I have a choice to allow those things to control me or not, and you know what these things controlling my life did to me? It caused me hair loss. It caused me cystic acne. It caused me painful periods. It caused me to starve myself. It caused me to hate everything and everyone around me. It cost me relationships I cared about. It nearly cost me my career. It caused me to walk with an endless exhaustion that I saw no end to. I don't have anxiety, I just have my moments where I am having a stressful situations. I don't have depression, but sometimes I have moments of feeling sad and down for what seems like no reason. I don't have a stress disorder, I just have moments of feeling stressed.
There is a difference: I don't own anxiety, depression, fear, or stress, and they certainly DO NOT own me. And finding this truth has caused me to find freedom.
So long story short, I found that all the things that I found myself in once before was all breakable. My dance career could be over in a split second. LIFE ON POINTE could disappear. All of my friends and family could suddenly up and decide they want nothing to do with me. Everything is fragile. Like glass, everything is breakable.
But I found that there is one thing that is not capable of being broken. And that one thing is Jesus. When I found myself questioning everything, the one thing that did not have a question mark was the fact that God is real, that Jesus exists, that Holy Spirit has always been by my side, and that collectively as one, God has always and forever will be good. That one simple truth helped me overcome what I thought would be impossible to overcome.
That, no matter what, will never be shaken. My bad decisions cannot shake that. My consequences will not shake that. My trust is in God and the truth that He is forever good, and I find myself wholly in His presence.
And on that note, I hope you enjoyed reading this first official post on The Ellie Way Blog! More deep notes like this will be coming your way, so stay tuned!
All my love,