October 17, 2023

Living For Jesus

Featured image for “Living For Jesus”

Living for Jesus by Elizabeth Harrison airs weekdays throughout the day. Below is her testimony.

I Surrender All

Have you ever had a dream (e.g., to be a professional ballerina) that you wanted more than anything? Have you ever faced a decision that would completely change the course of your life? A dilemma that brought you sadness, grief, and heartache? Where the only way to get through was at the feet of Jesus in prayer? Have you ever felt like you were standing at a fork in the road?

I know I have. All of us, in one way or another, have had a “fork in the road” experience. Here is my story of a choice between two paths in my life. One where each path would lead farther and farther from the other…

Pursuing My Dream

I started taking a ballet class with a friend as a hobby after school when I was younger. My friend ended up changing her hobby, but I wanted to continue with ballet lessons. I ended up signing up for another class during the week. I grew to really enjoy ballet. Fast-forward a few years, and as I moved into my early teens, I started taking ballet more seriously. I fell in love with ballet. I started really progressing and growing in skill. I remember wanting to take it to the next level, from hobby to career… to become a professional ballerina, like those I’d seen in the New York City Ballet.

But in order to pursue a career like this, it is not an easy road. It’s more than a few minutes of performance on stage. There is so much that is required to have any chance of “making it” in the ballet world. Ballet is like any other professional athletic sport—you can’t just pick it up and put it down when you want, or maneuver it around the other things you’d like to do. It requires complete dedication, focus, and change in your life.

You have a window when you’re young to acquire your skill. It’s something you must constantly practice in order to progress. You must spend hours and hours training, attending “intensives” (ballet training camps), preparing for and attending auditions, and traveling from place to place. It means countless injuries along the way. It means saying no to getting together with your friends, and not seeing your family as much. You eat, sleep, and live it.

This is what you do if you are going to pursue ballet as a career. But it didn’t seem like a sacrifice because I was so immersed in it, and I loved it so much. It was my dream. It brought me such joy—something I wanted more than anything. I did my school work during the day (sometimes on the road), and traveled weekly to both New York City (NYC) and Rochester to train with my coaches for multiple hours a day. Then I would travel back home for classes with my local studio teacher and to teach ballet in the evenings to little ones.

My Dream Was Becoming a Reality

Things were looking good. My coaches, who were already well-established in the ballet world, knew my goal was to enter into a program after high school that would lead to me becoming a professional ballerina in a company in New York (the ballet hub of the U.S.). They were helping me along the way to achieve my goal. Everything was progressing nicely along the timeline of my high school years.

Then, in the summer of 2018, my family and I started to attend our home church more regularly as my brothers and I had a growing desire to become more serious in our walk with Jesus. We wanted to become a part of this church. Later in 2018, we were baptized—it was the best decision we’ve ever made. I didn’t really think much would change. Since I trained independently, I had more control of my training schedule with the coaches. As I got closer to graduating and was trying to narrow down and finalize the next steps after high school, foreign thoughts started entering my mind saying, “You shouldn’t be continuing this… time to give it up.” Then, road block after road block came up after trying to find a ballet company that would let me have Sabbath’s off.

Which Path Would I Choose?

The ballet world and my new world, where I wanted to keep the Sabbath holy, are polar opposites. When do people usually attend shows? Evenings and weekends—including on Saturday. As a ballet dancer, if you aren’t performing you are in the studio training or rehearsing. Weekends are a requirement. Unlike when I trained independently if I was to work as a company member, I wouldn’t have a say in what my schedule would look like. I researched one company after another to find one that would be flexible, and time after time one door closed after another. I had a clear decision to make: am I going to continue on after all these years of hard work, sacrifice, and preparation to achieve my dream, or am I going to choose Jesus and give it all up? 

And my answer was… as much as I love ballet, I love Jesus more. So, I gave it all up. 

This is when the song we sing at church—“All to Jesus I surrender”—became a living reality for me. It was by far the most difficult, painful, and emotional decision I have ever made. Ballet was everything to me—it was a major part of my identity. I couldn’t see myself without it. I had put all my eggs in that one basket, so to speak. I was so close to achieving my goal. I didn’t know what to do next.

Even though it’s been a few years now, it’s still something that is very painful to talk about. However hard that decision was, it was the right one. If I had made the other choice, I don’t know where I would be in my walk with Jesus—maybe it would be non-existent. Looking at it now, I believe that for me it would have been almost impossible to be a growing Christian in that type of environment and lifestyle. I’m thankful that Jesus worked on my heart, led my life, and gave me the strength to make the decision He wanted me to make.

Since then, He has filled my life with so many other blessings. I have found my identity and joy in Jesus. I am thankful He knows what is best. I am still praying and trying to find out what God’s plan is for my life. But I know He will show me, just as He has been faithful to show me before. 

Call to Action

Whatever Jesus may ask you or me to surrender to Him, do it. 

Give Jesus all, no matter the cost, it’s the only right choice. He has our best interest at heart. 

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”ROMANS 8:28