It’s that time of year again; the season when the annual Christmas dinner is looming on the horizon. Each year we join the rest of the staff of Brian’s company for a formal dinner, after which a band takes to the stage and the party begins, with all his co-workers taking to the dance floor while we watch from the sidelines, then slink away under the cover of darkness. Well, not this year! This year, we wanted things to be different, so we decided to take ballroom dancing classes. Yep, that’s right. The Beatties are dancing. Well, at least we’re trying. So far we mostly step on each other!
This isn’t our first attempt at dancing. We have given it a try at the dreaded Christmas dinner. For anyone old enough, if you remember slow dancing from the weekly sock-hop in high school, that’s pretty much what we would do. For those too young to have a clue what that’s like, it means I put my arms around his neck, he puts his arms around my waist, and we sort of sway to the music, maybe moving our feet a little. This style of “dancing” only works to really slow songs, and makes you feel kinda dopy. I remember one time thinking, “Brian doesn’t lead well at all!” only to hear the whisper of God say, “You don’t follow well.” Oops! I felt sheepish as I realized the truth: Brian’s leading is irrelevant if I’m not following!
The first night of class we learned the main problem with our dancing is the way we hold onto each other. We knew where our hands were supposed to go, so we put them there and forgot about them, focusing our attention on our feet. We tried. The whole class of a few dozen adults tried, and we all looked like goofs. We women just couldn’t figure out where we our partners were trying to lead us, so we didn’t follow well. This lead to an evening of smashed toes, tangled arms, and lots of embarrassed laughter. About the time we all decided it must be hopeless, the instructor randomly pulled a woman out to the center of the floor and began to dance with her. Now, with her own husband she seemed to have two left feet, but with the instructor, you would have thought they had been dancing together for years. No one was more surprised than the woman! Well, maybe her husband…
The instructor went on to explain that the man has to “make a solid frame” with his arms, rather than just let them go wherever they flopped. What this means is that the arm that is around the woman’s waist is rigid, both at the shoulder and the elbow. The other arm (the one holding the woman’s hand) is also still. This means that as the man does turns, or goes sideways, or whatever, unless the woman really fights to not follow, she will follow like a pro. Believe me, the women were all thrilled to find out the problem was all the men’s fault!
The instructor pulled me out one time to dance with him, and I found out he was absolutely right. While I stepped all over Brian, I was able to follow this total stranger almost perfectly. It didn’t take effort on my part, either. And, while it might sound uncomfortable to be held so stiffly, it wasn’t. It felt very natural (except that I didn’t know this guy, and he was holding onto me), and I didn’t have to think much about where my feet were supposed to go, or what beat of the measure we were on, or anything. I was just pretty much twirled away.
It was about that time I realized God had a message in all this for me. I thought of all the time I have spent in prayer, begging God to give me direction; telling Him I didn’t care what I was supposed to do, but I needed to know what it was so I could do it. Who hasn’t prayed, “God, I want to follow you, but I don’t know where you want me to go! How can I follow You if I don’t know where you’re leading?” That night in the dance class I realized the folly of my ways. I know God doesn’t hold me loose and sloppy, letting me flounder; He holds me firmly. God provides the “strong frame” necessary for me to be able to follow almost effortlessly. The problem is I plant my feet and over-think the whole thing, refusing to move until I know if we are headed into a twirl, a turn, or just moving straight down the floor. If I would just relax, trust that He is holding me, and trust His leading, I would be twirled away without me having to worry about the details.
Since then, I can’t say that I’m perfect at following Him, but I have relaxed some. And do you know what? I’ve begun to notice His leading more and more as I’ve worried about it less and less. It’s not the struggle to know what He wants me to do, now that I just let Him lead. I’m back to the basics, where I started: do what He has put in my heart, and notice later how much it was God. Pretty cool, eh? Next time God asks you to dance, I suggest you say yes, and let Him lead!