Dancing with the Father
In college a sorority sister convinced me to take ballroom dancing lessons with her for a summer. I did studio and team dance as a child/teen so I thought this would be a fun foray into a hobby I missed and immediately signed up. If you don’t know, dancing is a lot of work with many, many hours of behind the scenes preparation to make it look effortless on stage but there is something so magical about the first time muscle memory takes over for a routine and you just get lost in the music… those moments when I no longer had to truly think because I could feel every step. This was one of the main reasons I agreed to her plan because I felt comfortable in that sphere so I was sure surprised when dancing with a partner didn’t come easily at all.
As an adult who has done a lot of soul searching, I now can clearly see all the hang ups but at the time I was truly shocked. However, that summer taught me a ton about myself and how to enjoy dancing through life even when you don’t recognize the tune.
You can’t always know every step.
I am a HUGE fan of MGM musicals. Gene Kelly is my favorite actor and I’ve watched the barn raising dance from “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” more times than I can count but all of those dances are choreographed to perfection. Every dance number I have ever participated in has been choreographed which is perfect for me because I like to know what’s coming next. That’s not normally how ballroom dancing works. As a woman, you don’t necessarily know the next step and as the guy, you might not know what song is up next or what the tempo might be or if someone is going to swerve into your lane.
Life works much the same way. You can’t memorize or even know every step you are going to take in your journey but if you just stop you’re going to get run over. Sometimes, you just have to go with the flow and enjoy the unexpectedness that comes with the process because who knows what amazing dance may emerge in the process.
There’s not one right way.
If you can’t always know the steps because your partner may have a different idea or the tempo may change with the next song, then it stands to reason that there isn’t one correct way to proceed in your dance. That was like lesson one that summer. These are the types of steps for this style of dance. Go forth and combine them how you see fit. That stressed me out more than I could tell you because I wanted to do it the proper way which apparently isn’t a thing. I’ve heard dancers speak of their love for the spontaneity of ballroom dancing. Yes, you practice but you practice to become comfortable with your partner, not to memorize a perfect routine which is what makes watching these couples whirl about pretty spectacular! They don’t necessarily have a written out plan because there are so many options. ALL of which are correct.
Life too, doesn’t have one set of steps to take. Some people marry at 19 others at 36. Some people have four kids and some have four cats. So people find their passion in middle school and some don’t figure out their purpose until retirement. We tend to get hung up thinking that we’re behind in life or taking the wrong road because it doesn’t look like our best friend’s journey or our brother’s. We’re stressed that we aren’t sticking to the road map we randomly made because God alone knows where we’re headed. Yes, we can choose the exit ramps we take and rest areas we stop at but even then we can't choose when they will appear.
It’s not my job to lead.
The hardest lesson for me to learn that summer was that it’s not my job to lead...EVER! I’m a woman so my job is to follow my partner’s lead which was really hard for me in class. As expected, the guys in our course were either 95 and knew the moves but couldn’t really execute them like they did on VJ Day or they were socially awkward young men who thought this was a good place to meet women but panicked when they had to take our waist. Let’s just say that no one instilled me with confidence in their ability to get around the floor. However, the course I did had a weekly lesson, a Friday dance AND a private lesson. It was during this private lesson that I had an epiphany for my life and daily walk with God.
I remember showing up for my lesson and the instructor's first words being, “Bailey, you have got to let the man lead!” Of course, I immediately became defensive. “They don’t know what they’re doing so we keep doing the wrong thing.” His next words woke up something in my soul… “You’re never supposed to lead. It’s not your job so even if you do the right steps you are still wrong.” Wow! What a life philosophy because he was completely correct but that doesn’t make dance any easier if you don’t trust your partner. Which leads me to my final lesson...
The right partner makes it effortless.
After my little scolding for being too much of an independent woman, I had the chance to take the floor with my instructor. He turned on a song I can’t remember and we whirled and whirled and whirled. My heart soared just like it did when I was younger. I could no more tell you the name of the steps or the style of the dance than I could tell you the chemical makeup of Silly Putty. It didn’t matter. I didn’t have to know every step or any step because I wasn’t in control...he was and I trusted him.
I realized that the same was true of my walk with God. I so desperately wanted to dance with the Father but I also had a hard time letting Him take the lead. Some people find it hard to follow God’s lead because they aren’t in control or because they feel they are just being dragged along with no say so but here’s the truth that becomes instantly clear two seconds into watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dance. Fred is not dragging Ginger along. Actually, you realize that you often aren’t even looking at him because he knows just how to put Ginger on display.
God is the same. He knows what moves are best for you… even the scary ones and never once have I seen Fred lose his grip on Ginger and send her spinning into a wall so how much more care will God show to us in our dance of life? Don’t get me wrong, you actually have to participate in the dance. You can’t just “Weekend at Bernie’s” your life and expect it to come out but when you are dancing with the right partner you can’t help but dazzle. And while God will always be the ultimate partner, the more you dance with Him the more comfortable you become just like with a man. Do you remember those awkward school dances when someone you didn’t really know would ask you to dance? They might have been nice enough but it just wasn’t the same as dancing with someone you knew. The same goes for our relationship with God. The more you get to know Him the better you flow with the dance because you trust His steps and can recognize His movements.
So, as you’re led on to the dance floor just take a breath and follow His lead. He knows exactly what He’s doing. He even wrote the song!