When I was a kid, I was a major fan of Saved by the Bell. CONFESSION: I might have even watched The College Years. There was one scene, among many, that I remember clearly from that show. Apparently others do as well because it is one of the first gifs that comes up when you scan gifs for the show. In the scene, Jessie Spano has become addicted to caffeine pills and they have take a toll on her body. Zach Morris, her friend who is supposed to dance with her in a competition that evening tells her “You can’t dance tonight” while he tries to get her to calm down. As she protests she eventually starts crying saying, “There is never any time. I don’t have time to study, I won’t get into Harvard…”
Taken out of context it’s a funny gif considering that it’s a stereotypical show about teenagers in high school and it depicts just one of a series of dramatic experiences that happened on that show. But in context that scene stuck with me for another reason. It stuck with me because I could relate to that feeling (no, not of being addicted to caffeine pills… though maybe substitute coffee and you got something there). I could relate to the feeling of there just not being enough time. My husband and kids know this fact about me well. They know how much mommy hates being late, particularly in the morning.
But more than being late for one isolated appointment on a random Tuesday morning, I hate the overall feeling of running out of time. As a kid, I always felt like I was running out of time. For example, I had the childhood dream that many young girls do, of being a dancer, but somewhere along the line I reasoned that if I hadn’t started lessons by age 3 then there was really no hope of dancing. As an adult, I still feel this same way when I strike up a conversation with someone about how much I enjoy writing, and they tell me about the book they just finished and they are just a few (5, 10) years younger than me.
Perhaps this resonates? How many of us have felt we should have done or been someone or something by 21, 25, 30? How many of us think it is too late to try something new or really commit to a new goal because the calendar says we should have done it by now?
However, is it really time that keeps us from pursuing our dreams? For Jessie Spano (fictional character, yes I know!), it was not actually about time. It was more about the pressure she felt to be everything everyone expected her to be. It was about not feeling like she was enough, just as she was. But it was also about her lack of faith that if she waded through the hard stuff, she would eventually come out on the other side. It was a lack of faith that if she was reaching toward the person she was meant to be, the details would work themselves out. Today’s Gospel reading highlights the lack of faith the devil is hoping Jesus has. He is hoping that Jesus will doubt. He is hoping that Jesus will break down. He is hoping that Jesus will seek the easy way out. He is hoping that Jesus will give up. Jesus, however, remained steadfast in His commitment to God.
Several years ago, I decided that I would finally pursue that dancing thing. I had matured enough to know that I would never be an actual professional dancer, but I also knew that I did not have to let something like not winning the latest season of World of Dance stop me from doing something I love. I researched places that offered adult ballet lessons and came across Contemporary Ballet Dallas. I went to a ballet store, and I was overjoyed to discover that they did, in fact, have adult sizes. And I went to my first ballet class on a random Saturday morning.
It was like a dream come true for me. I discovered when I signed up that I could take jazz, hip hop, and contemporary classes as well. I took them all. I was horrible, especially because in all classes except adult beginner ballet, I was dancing alongside company members. But no matter how difficult it was trying to learn choreography for the first time as an adult, I never failed to show up and try. I fumbled around with a huge smile on my face. And as I looked at my grown-up self in the mirror on the studio wall, I realized how much was possible with just a little faith, just a little trust, and the desire to never give up.