How HLI Taught Me To Choose The Dance by Megan Dimmer


When I speak about HLI, I often say it was the best/worst choice I could have made after graduating high school. It exposed to me the depth of the love of God (the best). But also shed a light on the depth of pain I pretended I didn’t have (the worst).  In this best/worst decision, came the tools through self-awareness, ingenuity, heroism, and love to be able to continue the process of entering into the kingdom, fully loved and fully in pain. In coming to the great state of Maine in 2012, I didn’t fully understand why I was there. The invitation was clear throughout my journal over the 9 month period “Know Me so you can know yourself”. Reading them again, the persistence of the invitation to love was evident. I love that, that is the nature of Jesus.

So in all my messy glory, I learned how to wrestle with Jesus instead of hiding in shame. It was the very worst experience to face shame and pain, set down my dreams, and learn how to have hard conversations. The pain was deep and overwhelming, but the ever-present God changed how I interacted with Him and guided me into more authentic living. This gift alone has transformed how I think about life and interact with my community. It changed me from desiring risk and adventure to grabbing hold of rootedness and peace. I have far more courage to lament, to be angry and to doubt, trusting Jesus is embracing me in my reality.


Because Jesus is kind, there is always the next invitation to go deeper, face more pain, have more hard conversations. Allowing for more embrace, deepening authenticity and less shame to rule my life. This is the gift of HLI, learning the dance of following Jesus while inviting others to do the same. The ever present, ever loving Jesus is for everyone no matter the barriers perceived, no matter the lifestyle embraced. It takes self-awareness to see Jesus for yourself, it takes ingenuity to invite others in, it takes heroism to continue to embrace yourself in the midst of community, and most of all it takes love to truly embrace other people.

The last six years, since I have graduated, have been a smattering of dark pits and mountain top experiences. Some moments have been easy to choose Jesus and love freely. Other moments I have wrestled with the thought that Jesus was even present, but trusted the dance. It is always the best/worst choice to expose the pain and embrace love. The invitation is always there. Trust the invitation. Choose the dance.

Mary McKellick