Every Day We Show Up

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Dress Rehearsals

Every Monday during the winter, I drive into town. There, twenty young actors and a few directors gather to work.

We block scenes so the actors know where they’re supposed to be, when. We practice dialogue so they know their lines and how to deliver them. We fine tune character development so they know how to inhabit their role. 

In the beginning progress is slow. Details that seemed settled at one practice get lost before we make it to the next. We forget lines and props and which side of the stage to enter from.

But week by week, little by little, we improve. The actors go where they want to end up. They say the right line at the right time. And they become the character they’re meant to be.

It’s a process.

We start with blocking rehearsals. We don’t do the scenes in the order they appear in the script. We work the scenes in an order that helps us make the best use of our time. To an observer it might look as though we’d dropped the script and are performing a mixed up story.

But observers don’t matter at this point.

We just need to figure out what’s happening on the stage: How to get from here to there. How to get the props on. How to get the set changed.

After blocking, we move to polishing. We work on getting on and off stage at just the right time and in just the right way. We work on saying our lines not like ourselves but as our character. We quit relying on scripts because we can’t use them in performance and it’s impossible to act well with a book in your hand.

A few weeks before the show, we begin technical rehearsals– bringing in sound and lights and special effects and the audio-visual crew so that it all flows together. And we continue to polish. We perfect line delivery and placement and postures. We prepare for the inevitable moment when someone will forget a line, when some prop will disappear, or break, or just get forgotten.

And then it’s dress rehearsal, probably the cast’s favorite one of all, with costumes, a dark house, and directors glued to their seats, unable to stop things and ask them to “run that one more time.” It’s the moment they’ve been working toward. They take the stage. They perform the show. Just as they’ve practiced.

When it’s over they’re tired and hungry and ready to go home, but first they sit together on the stage and we talk. They talk about how they think it went, what went well and what they hope doesn’t happen again. Then the directors and even the technical crew do they same, because it’s important to know what went right and what still needs some work.

In just over twelve hours we’ll all be back, putting on makeup and costumes, and–because they’re all teenagers–eating, rested and ready for the show.

The lights will go down. They’ll take the stage. And the show will begin.

The cliché is right. Life is not a dress rehearsal. But it’s not a performance, either. Life is living, one day at a time.

We show up for practice. We block so we know where to go, when. We polish so we know how to communicate, what we need to say and how and when we need to say it, how to make ourselves heard and how to be silent so others can be heard. We practice the technical stuff and grow more and more into who we already are.

Over and over again.

Every day we show up with what we have,  ready to do our part and do our best. Every day we block the new, polish the old, and hold an imperfect dress rehearsal for the day to come. And every day we learn from that day how to better move into the next one, how better to run the race set before us, how better to attend to and apply the Word that lights our path.

Life is not a dress rehearsal. It isn’t a performance. It’s a story, blocked, polished, and lived out one day at a time, with new mercies raining down.

And you?  What are you showing up to today? What’s it teaching?

Linking this post at Jennifer, Lyli, Brenda, Barbie, Jen and  Dawn‘s.

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17 thoughts on “Every Day We Show Up

  1. Natalie says:

    Transitions are an uncomfortable stretch. And waiting seasons, whether it be waiting for action or understanding, are uncomfortable in their own way. Showing up takes strength and courage that God provides. Keep showing up. He’s there in the midst.

  2. Barbie Swihart says:

    This is perfect. After a long season of transition I found myself asking God what my purpose was. But if I show up every day, ready to do my part, I am sure to find purpose in it. Thanks for sharing over at the #glimpses link up.

  3. Brenda says:

    “…Learn from the day how to better move into the next one.” So true, Natalie. The days we’ve lived are the best kinds of teachers for the days we’ve yet to live, aren’t they? So glad God is patient with us and allows us grace to learn from life as we live it one day at a time. Lovely post, Natalie. Thanks for sharing with #ChasingCommunity today. ((grace upon grace))

  4. Dawn Boyer says:

    Your words remind me of my own ‘theater’ days in school, before the demands of life were upon me and I couldn’t slip into that role and be someone else. I always enjoyed the time I had in drama and choir and the thrill of performing with the nuance of seeing all the pieces come together. It is so much like life in that someone the pieces we experience feel out of place at times, repetitive and maybe even boring but the repetition is necessary in order to get to the conclusion or the closing seen. And often, the ends always justify the means. If we would only remember what we know to be True, we would see that more. Great post!

  5. Lisa notes... says:

    I love everything about this post, Natalie. “Life is not a dress rehearsal. But it’s not a performance, either. Life is living, one day at a time.” Just showing up is a strategy I’ve been using for years. Sometimes it’s all I can do, and I discover that it is enough.

  6. Gayl says:

    “Life is not a dress rehearsal. It isn’t a performance. It’s a story, blocked, polished, and performed one day at a time, with new mercies raining down.” I’m showing up to help care for grandchildren as their mothers have been sick, and I’m learning that with all that is required, God is giving me strength. Blessings to you! I’m your neighbor at #TellHisStory.

    • Natalie says:

      You’re showing up as a blessing in the lives of your children and grandchildren. My mom often did the same for me, during our children’s younger years, and I was so grateful. Thanks for taking time to stop by today.

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