For many years, Joe and I took ballroom dance lessons. In fact, we met taking classes and that will be a story for another day. When we first met, we took classes separately and with different teachers. Joe had started about a year or so before I met him; so, he was fairly confident of his skills and his abilities. I, on the other hand, was a novice and was fortunate enough, by circumstances, to be able to take lessons with a premier teacher that brought me along rather quickly.
Ballroom dance is not for the faint of heart. It is a sport that requires a person to be in relatively good health and it is hard work - mentally and physically. I soon learned the really "great" dancers make it look easy and effortless, graceful and smooth. And, I soon learned from Todd, my teacher, that the way to make it look easy and effortless, graceful and smooth is to learn the steps, to learn the technique, to practice, practice, practice and to let your partner lead - I had to learn to follow.
Let me tell you, following is not my strong point. As I have previously explained, I like to be in control of all aspects of my life. So, dance was no different and it was quite a challenge (especially because the woman normally has her back to the line of dance, has her partner dancing "into" her and she CANNOT see where she is going or why). I was constantly being reprimanded on my "back leading" skills - they were very, very good and, just keep in mind, it is impossible for both partners to lead and for the dance to be beautiful.
So, I slowly learned to dance - not just the patterns, but the art of expressing myself through movement with the music, the balance, the nuances of why it is important for my head to be at a certain angle, why my feet had to point a certain direction, why my arms and shoulders had to be placed in a specific pose and in a specific relationship to my body and to my partner's. I also learned that the closer the partners are able to move together, the easier it is to dance the more difficult steps, spins and turns. The "center" for both partners becomes one instead of two; so, those movements are easier to master.
Another thing I learned is that dancing is a matter of trust - trust in your partner that he will not drop you or spin you into oblivion, trust that your partner will dance to your skill level and help you put your feet in the proper position and at the proper time so you will be able to take the next step without falling.
Dance is such a beautiful metaphor for our relationship with God. All the things I've explained about learning to dance are valuable lessons regarding God's role in my life. He leads by taking my hand in His and, with the other, gently guiding me into the next step where I am meant to follow. It's really very simple and, at times, can be very difficult. I fully understand the concept. It's just that, sometimes, I have issues with the execution.
This all brings me to something I read this week that has touched me very deeply. I read this on Ann Voscamp's blog - Holy Experience...She is reviewing a book by Sally Clarkson called Dancing with My Father: How God Leads Us Into a Life of Grace and Joy.
"To grow in this joy, I have to move where He leads. When dancers attempt to turn in different directions, there is no beauty, no synchronizing of movement. But when they learn to read each other's movements and move as one body, there is beauty, a grace, and a skill of step that grants the joy of unity and elegance to the dance."
I love this! It touches my soul. When Joe and I learn to dance together as one (and, it is a constant learning - in all areas of our life together), it is such an intimate experience. I feel my soul fly free and I am in tune with the rhythm of his heart and it feels so right.
So, too, when I learn to dance with God, it is an intimate and magical experience - one of trust, one of surrender, one of knowing that He will always lead me where I am supposed to go - as long as I allow Him to guide my steps. In that learning is where I find freedom, confidence, beauty, grace and joy! And, oh, how sweet the dance...!