A Dream of Dance Reawakened.

Another turn in the journey to find my beauty often requires me to revisit my heart’s desires as a child. What did I love or long for as a child? One of the things I longed to do was to dance, to be seen, and to perform like Shirley Temple, whom I was often compared to as a little girl. I wanted to dance and dress up in outfits that were covered in feathers, sequins, ribbons, fringe, and rhinestones–to be seen was the whole goal. Our neighbor girl took dance, and I at five years old wanted to do the same, but alas that was not the story that was given to me.

I should explain a little about my family background. I had wonderful parents, but like so many parents, they were influenced by their own backgrounds. My parents were part of a church culture that opposed dance, and for them dance lessons for a child was just not an option. Besides, it was a frivolous expense that they did not need. And so dance lessons were forgotten.

Skip ahead to almost thirty years later and you find me a grown woman on this precious journey to find my beauty and recover all that was lost along the way. Almost four years ago I bought a belly dancing DVD by Dolphina. I was determined to learn to dance, but it’s hard to make your body do much of anything when your heart is so hemmed in and pinned down by brokeness and despair. Thank you Jesus for grace, because in this last year I picked the DVD back up. After three years of getting some healing, I was able to belly dance. I had to work really hard at it. I had so many things to overcome, the little girl who had no inhibitions, who thought she was beautiful, and who told people that she was “sexy”; I had to pray that Jesus would resurrect her because, she was buried under almost thirty years of lies that the enemy accused her with. Belly dancing was beautiful, feminine , sensuous, and sexy, all the things my feminine heart longed to be but had believed for too long I was not! I worked the program all this summer and danced. I was finally able to do the whole DVD, and it was magical.

And so autumn has come and I picked up yet another dancing DVD called, “Dancing with the Stars.” My sister Shanna recommended it. I was so excited because I had watched “Dance With Me” starring Vanessa Williams and Cheyenne and “Shall We Dance” starring Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon a hundred times. I knew this was going to be beautiful. I had no idea what surprises Jesus had in store for me by doing this DVD; what wounds he would bring up, what places he would ask to heal in me, and what he would do to romance my heart through this DVD.

I watched the DVD several times and practically cried because it looked so simple on a DVD. It was not simple in reality because I had to face my family background, church culture, my midwestern culture, and the fact that I am not a professional dancer. I thought Oh, Jesus, I wish I had that little girl’s heart back, and Oh, to have a shot of Latin blood flowing through my veins. I concentrated on the mambo, and I am still practicing. It has been fun, so empowering, and so healing. Jesus has shown me so many good things about myself through this experience. Like, if I am not instantly good at something, I give up. He has shown me that I need to let go of PERFECTIONISM!!!! He has shown me I always compare myself to my sisters who are gifted with the ability to dance, and have no inhibitions. He has shown me I need to lighten up and have some fun, to give myself some grace to get the dance.

The most wonderful and precious truth I have gotten out of this dancing experience was sent to me through my sister, Shanna. After calling Shanna multiple times asking her to pray for me to get the steps, she called to tell me that she had sent me a few video clips on my Facebook to enjoy and be inspired by. They were video clips from the show, “Dancing With The Stars.” This was great because we do not have network television, so I had never seen much of the program. It was Saturday afternoon and I sat down and watched the clips. I wanted to cry! They were so beautiful! Well then I was hooked. All I can say is thank you Jesus for YouTube!!!!!! I watched performance after performance with my sister, Sierra. It has inspired me to keep dancing.

The things that Jesus has shown me from this program have just been mind boggling.  When you watch these dances being performed, you are utterly enchanted. But I have actually learned the most from the practice sessions. You have two people; a male and a female. The man takes the lead. He is masculine to the core and is like a pillar of strength calling out to the woman to play her part. In someways, it is as if they are delving into the deep waters of her heart. I have watched these men encourage, challenge, pursue, allure, and woo these women to come out from behind the veil. The veil being whatever we hide behind as women: fear, control, shame, abandonment, or distrust…and you all know the list could go on. They are asking these women–they are literally beckoning them–to become the woman God created them to be: vulnerable, soft, gentle, seductive, cunning, sensuous, and beautiful. These dancers–Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Mark Ballas, Tony Dolovani, and Val Chmerkovskiy–and all the other guys have awakened in me a picture of Jesus. They are like a shadow of what Jesus is to us as women. Jesus is constantly wooing and beckoning us to come out, to be vulnerable, to risk to show our heart’s brokenness, vulnerability, and deep need. Jesus wants it all so he may heal us, so he may have the beauty to be his partner in this life that is like a dance.

If you are wondering, is all this biblical? There are four women mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy: Tamar, Ruth, Rahab, and of course, Mary. These women should be held up as examples of the power of femininity. They were vulnerable, brave, cunning, seductive, scandalous, and willing to risk it all to say yes to God–to let Him lead them in the dance of life. So now, when I feel Jesus asking me to trust him, I think of the clip I saw, where Maksim Chmerkovskiy is asking his partner, Erin Andrews to do a lift that will require her not just to jump, but to also trust Maks to catch her. He encourages her to trust him, and by faith, she has to trust that he will catch her, or the dance will not be complete. She must risk. I realize that is what Jesus is asking me to do, Risk. I hear Jesus call, “Starla, jump. I will catch you. It will be a beautiful transition in the dance, just trust me!!!!” Okay, Jesus, here I come!!! Catch me!!!!!!



  1. Starla Smith Bunn

    Starla Rene’… you are so precious and I just love you… just love you. xoxoxo, Auntie

  2. Barbara Wilcox

    I love this post. I’m a Christian and a dancer: ballet, belly dance, postmodern. Egyptians tell me that belly dance is more a celebration of feminine energy, the parts of our body that can make and nourish babies, rather than just erotic in the narrow Western sense.

    We can praise God through dance and be grateful for our bodies as part of His creation. Thank you for sharing!

    • Starla

      Thank you so much, Barbara! God did an amazing thing when he designed the female body! So glad you enjoyed this! 🙂


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