I love to dance. I really love to dance; it ranks third only to Jesus-ness and horseback riding. I didn’t realize this until my sophomore year of college when a friend introduced me to Contra and Swing. I quickly fell in love with dancing… spinning till I can’t see straight, everything melting away and drifting off with the music, laughing with every step whether wrong or right. I have learned that my heart becomes surprisingly vulnerable while dancing. Dancing vulnerable? Yep. I can remember talking with a friend of mine about it… I just couldn’t understand why whenever I danced, all of my walls came tumbling down. As I learned to dance more, it began to make sense. I learned how to follow my partner’s lead, and following requires trust. Apparently, vulnerability and trust go hand-in-hand.
Admittedly, my technical skill with dancing is not always the most advanced, though it is improving exponentially. Generally I can keep up quite nicely, but my lack of training has caused me to rely heavily on following. Following did not always come naturally. I can remember dancing with a friend, and he stopped mid song, looked at me and said, “Either I can lead or you can. Take your pick, but we can’t both.” I decided it would be best if he led, since I didn’t actually know the dance… a wise decision. Gradually I learned to follow; however, problems still arise from time to time. Now the problems are limited to distrusting my partner’s ability and integrity or to thinking instead of feeling.
Distrust arises in two situations: either I distrust his dancing skill, or I distrust him as a person—I distrust his ability to know how to take care of me, or I distrust that his character is one that he will take care of me. This distrust manifests two ways. One is me trying to take the lead. The other is a reluctance to go where my partner leads. Neither is pretty; neither is fun. Walls and invulnerability.
Over thinking the steps is easier for me to overcome, as it depends exclusively on me. This tends to happen in dances where I have time to think. The waltz is where it’s appeared most. I love to waltz, but unless I turn my thinker off, the waltz does not love me. I struggled with the waltz for a while; I understood the basic steps and the rhythm, but I would over-think and try to anticipate what came next. In Take the Lead, a cute dancing movie, there is a scene where this girl learns follow by waltzing blindfolded. Though I didn’t try a blindfolded, I found a way to apply the concept—occasionally choosing to close my eyes. When my eyes are closed, the only option is to feel the music and my partner’s leading.
All this to say: dancing reveals my struggles with trusting people and God. I don’t always trust Him to be able to take care of every part of my life. Nor do I trust Him to always lead me to good. And more often than it should, over-analyzing gets in the way of fluid movement. When I trust my partner dancing feels great, and knowing every step doesn’t matter! When I trust my God living feels great, and knowing every step doesn’t matter!