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To the Religious Teacher Who Cut Me From Dance Team for “Body Mutilation” for One Small Tattoo

I thought I had just about gotten past every hurt in my life, but I suppose we humans are more like onions than we realize. One day you’re traipsing along thinking nothing bothers you anymore when all of the sudden you stumble upon something unexpectedly, and like a sharp stone sticking into your bare foot, a hard reminder of a past pain will pierce through your calloused psyche to the soft flesh underneath. Like an onion, another layer will be peeled back, fresh hurt that you didn’t even know was still present below.

So here’s the story. I’m scrolling through Facebook when I see a friend share a photo of her daughter on a local community college’s dance team, and bam, like that my feelings were hurt. You see, once upon a time, like twenty years ago, I wanted to be on that dance team. I didn’t make the cut; not once, but two years in a row. Now before you start thinking I’m overly sensitive let me tell you why it hurt. If I had not been allowed a spot on a team because I didn’t deserve it as a performer that would be one thing, but that wasn’t the case here.

There’s plenty of times in my life I’ve tried something and failed. That’s fine. Sure it hurts at the time, but you get over it. You move on, you try something new, or you work harder. Heck, that’s what I assumed the first time I didn’t make the college’s dance team. I thought I was either overweight (at a whooping 120 pounds), or I just wasn’t a good enough dancer. So I was determined to work harder, lose five pounds if that helped, step up my dancing game, so to speak. But the point is, not getting a participation ribbon never hurt me. It wasn’t about not being picked. It was about why I wasn’t picked.

I wasn’t raised in a typical Bible-belt, Southern Baptist home like many of my friends. It’s not to lessen my upbringing in any way that I say that. I was raised by loving parents who showered me with affection, and they always let me know I was a special girl in their eyes. But some of the concepts that are common in religious or Christian homes weren’t as much of a priority in my family. We belonged on a church’s roster, but we didn’t talk “church stuff” other than on Sunday. Because of this some of the ideals that my religious classmates had instilled were not pushed in my home. Abstinence wasn’t even a conversation. Drinking lots of alcohol was not frowned upon. I came from a long line of sailors so you can imagine the colorful language. It’s hard for me to talk about this because I think people will judge my family, something that would be terribly heinous, but something that is sadly common as this story proves. All I know is I never doubted my parents loved me, and though I didn’t truly learn about or experience a personal relationship with Jesus until I left my parent’s home, I know for a fact God taught me about unconditional love through the actions of my mom and dad.

It would be incidents like this one in college that showed me how religious people can hurt you, how they can judge you, label you, and make you feel unworthy simply because you don’t fit into their perfect little box of what a lover of Jesus is supposed to look like. Apparently I didn’t fit the mold.

After my second failed attempt to become a part of the sparkly lineup I was disappointed, and a close friend who had made the team decided to do some digging for me. I still recall getting up the insane courage to confront the woman in charge of the dance team, who apparently held my lack of scholarship in her hands. After calling out to her across the campus, and once she was facing me I just blurted it out.

“Is it true I didn’t make the dance team because I have a tattoo?” I asked.

Brie Gowen
Brie Gowenhttp://briegowen.com/
Brie Gowen is a 30-something (sliding ever closer to 40-something) wife and mother. When she’s not loving on her hubby, chasing after the toddler or playing princess with her four-year-old, she enjoys cooking, reading and writing down her thoughts to share with others. Brie is also a huge lover of Jesus. She finds immense joy in the peace a relationship with her Savior provides, and she might just tell you about it sometime. She’d love for you to check out her blog at BrieGowen.com.

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Chip and Joanna Gaines are teaching us important lessons about marriage and family as they walk away from their HGTV show for the sake of their family.

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