"Things are looking up"
        Self-esteem is kind of like money-- it's what you do with it that counts. Each can be blessing if we use it properly--if we continue to seek after God when we have them in our possession.
       As young Christians, my friends and I are faced with the problem of money and financial security in this world.  Should we be concerned?. My dad says if it's a money problem it's not a problem.  He sees money as something of this world that God will provide us with when we need it
because we need it for survival. Hereally doesn't talk about it much beyond that.  I have  witnessed money as being pretty huge distraction from things above.  My mom says,  "Money is the root of all evil." Maybe that's why I'm so terrified of it?  No one can serve two masters says Jesus. I have that written on the back of my wallet.
       I am preparing for a life in the theater by attending a BFA program in college, so obviously I don't think about financial security very often. I 
do remember that theater is also of this world;  though I am not worrying about money distracting me from things above, I have encountered distractions similar the false security in money.   Just like how everyone needs money to survive, actors need self esteem to be successful.  Self-esteem is also an essential but dangerous element of this world, because self esteem can turn into pride as quick as money can turn into greed.

       When I first arrived in Jackson, the Lord had basically stripped me from all my pride as an actress. I shook with fear as I walked to rehearsal and prayed that God would help me to grow in my experience here. I prayed that I would not hold the Festival back, but be able to work hard at my roles and add positively to the plays.  I felt that I was behind everyone, that I was not worthy to be here because everyone was so much more experienced than I was.   I learned alot during the rehearsal process and I
did work extremely hard.  God showed me how to use the rehearsal space as my playground-- to be free to explore and have a tremendous amount of fun.  The rehearsals were successful, and I enjoyed every second of that time at the Jackson Symphony Orchestra Hall.  But as performances approached, the directors got tough.  I worked hard, but forgot the  "have fun" part.  For my role in the Comedy of Errors, I started to feel stuck-- like I was missing something.  The director gave me notes that backed up my notion that I wasn't quite ready to open the show. What was I missing?  I prayed to God that he would just reveal to me how to take the next step.  That step, God revealed, was to just let go.  The director told me before the opening "Just have fun Darling! You are doing all right, just have fun up there."  And I did.  It took me a couple of performances to warm up, but I felt that with each performance I was enjoying myself more, and just having fun on stage. And now, here I am, on the three- day-break before our final weekend of performances of the Michigan Shakespeare Festival's 2001 season, and I have never been so thrilled to be doing theater in my life. I have been recieving positive feedback about my work from my peers and I feel that my hard work all summer is paying off.  I can't stop rejoicing. I feel great about God, I feel great about theater, I feel great about just about everything in my life.  I feel very secure, and that's the danger.

       God is showing me something unique here in Jackson-- The difference between Pride and Confidense.  Pride, according to Uncle Clive Staples (Lewis), is the one thing that seperates us from God; it was focusing on himself that caused Satan to fall. But confidense can be a strength that comes from God.  With confidense, I saw that  that it's okay to take risks with the Comedy (and the Tragedy) and go out on a limb, because  I have the control and capability to do so.  When actors  have confidense, we can just let go of ourselves and jump into our character's shoes and perform to our best uninhibited and unlimited ability.  We can't do that without confidense, it is our security blanket. Without it we just end up like the nervous wreck I was before we began the run:  worried that we will let ourselves and everyone else down and that we aren't capable of performing like we should.  I prayed that God would provide for me what I needed to perform, and he provided me with confidense. I know that it comes from Him, that it is Him that I am confident in as I go out on stage. But still it's still a hard concept for me to grasp--God  wants me to be confident;  God  provides me with self esteem.

     When God blesses us with potential distractions (success in this world), we must make double sure that we depend on Him more.  It is during times of success that we forget we need God. We've all heard that suffering brings us closer to God because  it reminds us that we need Him in this world,  so at the same time let us be reminded of the potential danger when things are going right.  We can't afford to lose our hunger, even in satisfying times.  I pray that I may give back to the Lord when He blesses me. Oh how He has blessed me here. Things
are looking up for me. Even so, I must keep looking up to God.

"For I am confident in this very thing, that He who began this good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ" -- Phillippians 1:6
July 31, 2001
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