I am sitting on a bench, looking out at a beautiful view, drinking tea from a thermos flask. To my right is sitting a middle-aged lady called Lou, who has been introduced by a mutual friend.

“She has a “light through the cracks” story that she wants to share”, our friend has told me. “You just need to know that she’s a really gifted dancer.”  

Lou is slim and petite, and her long blonde hair has been swept up into an elegant chignon. She smiles shyly as I invite her to share her story.   

“It started when I was a teenager,” she tells me, her voice softly spoken, “although it probably began further back than that.”


Encouraged by her parents, Lou starts to dance from a very young age. She has a natural aptitude, which is noted by her teachers. She finds it easy to pick up new techniques; she is happy to put in hours of practice; and she quickly rises through the ranks.

By the time she is taking her GCSEs, it is self-evident that she will become a professional ballerina. Her place at one of the country’s most prestigious ballet schools is almost cast iron guaranteed, and her career path lies ahead of her, already mapped out.

Suddenly, inexplicably, as she heads into the autumn after her GCSE results, Lou injures her back.

“It happened by accident,” she explains. “One day at home, I slipped on the kitchen floor, falling awkwardly – and I was in agony.”

As weeks turn into months, the doctors diagnose a slipped disc. Surgery, it seems, is the only solution. But Lou, unable to dance because of her injury, starts spiralling into depression.

“I had never been so inactive in all my living memory,” she tells me. “I just held out for the surgery, believing it would be the solution I needed.”

During the operation, the surgeon gently pulls away the nerve in Lou’s spine, exposing the prolapsed disc, which they partially remove – just enough to prevent pressure on the nerves, leaving most of the disc to continue working as a shock absorber.

Tragically for Lou, the surgery isn’t successful. In fact, it makes matters worse. She is left hobbling, like an old lady, leaning on a stick. Her depression deepens, and bitterness starts to set in.

Her future career as a professional ballerina lies in tatters at her feet …


… Fast forward two decades, when Lou is well into her thirties. She has recently moved neighbourhood, and a new friend invites her on an Alpha course at a large and vibrant church in the city where she lives.

“I had no idea such churches existed and, reluctantly, I agreed to go,” she says. “I had long ago given up on there being any kind of God and, even if he did exist, I was mad at him for the suffering I had endured.”

During the Alpha course, there is a discussion about forgiveness. Slowly, gently, she feels an inner nudge, which she later understood to be from the Holy Spirit.

“It was like a still, small prompting within my heart,” she tells me. “I knew I had to forgive the surgeon who had bodged the operation on my back.”

With the help of her Alpha leader, she articulates a prayer of forgiveness – not just forgiving the surgeon, but also forgiving herself for the slip that led to the original injury.

“As I extended forgiveness, out loud, I felt a huge weight lift off me,” she says. “My spine felt inexplicably light. ”

Encouraged by her Alpha leader, she stands and straightens her spine.

“The pain had completely gone,” she says. “It was incredible.”

Unable to contain her delight, she starts to dance, round and round the venue, much to the bemusement of her fellow participants on that particular Alpha course.

Later that evening, she gives her life to the Lord, and the first thing she does is to break her stick in two.

“I knew that Jesus had healed my back,” she explains, “and I knew I couldn’t keep it to myself.”

Lou couldn’t resurrect her professional dancing career, but she could recover her love of dancing. “Now I dance for the Lord,” she tells me. “It’s one of the ways I worship him.”


As you reflect on Lou’s story, is there anyone who comes to mind, who has hurt you and who you need to forgive? It might be someone from a long time ago, or someone from more recent times. It might also be yourself.

If this is you, what, if anything, might have been holding you back from extending forgiveness?

Why don’t you take a moment now, out loud, to forgive that person, or those people, by name, giving them over to God? Include yourself, if appropriate.

Allow God to minister to you in response. Perhaps he will lift a huge weight off you, or bring healing and release from pain …

As ever, constructive comments are welcome below.

Image by Nihal Demirci Erenay on Unsplashhttps://unsplash.com/@nihaldemirci


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