On dancing and trust . .

My dad danced with me–and nobody else.  I didn’t even have a date until I was in college, and the first person I ever tried to officially “date” I asked out–and he ended up turning me down!  But I was in love with the romanticism of dancing, and I would “dance” to music by myself, in my room, alone.

One day in college my professor of political science class was talking about when dancing had been outlawed in the U.S., and how dancing had been defined at that time.  He asked who in the class danced.  Out of something between naivety and wanting to look like I was cool and thinking I actually knew something about dancing, I raised my hand.

He actually called on me.  I remember he said something like, “Teej, you dance?”

“Well, by myself.” I said.  What I meant was, I danced alone, to music, in my room.

I didn’t realize how this would come across until he started laughing at me.  He asked me a few questions about this whole “dancing by myself” thing, and some of my classmates–and then many–started laughing too, including at least a couple attractive guys.  I was terribly embarrassed, but I kept digging a bigger hole for myself with my answers to the professor’s questions.  I think said my dancing was something like “interpretive dance”.

I remember the professor at last saying something halfway scornful and halfway kidding as he rolled his eyes like, “Well, we’ve got Teej who dances by herself.  Who else dances?”

The attention was at last turned from me, but I was “mighty low”–like Yosemite Sam on Looney Tunes after he’s filled with bullet holes (although I didn’t admit it to myself for a long time afterwards).

The dancing thing didn’t come up again for probably a year or two.  I got to be a bridesmaid at a wedding–something I’ve never done before or since.  It was a big deal for me.  But there was going to be dancing at the wedding reception.

I felt scared and thrilled.  Maybe I could learn how to dance.

A couple of kind fatherly men tried to teach me a bit about ballroom dancing.  At first, I was like a cardboard cut-out, partly because it was always safer for me to pretend to be “dumb” than to actually try something risky.

I did dance at the wedding reception.  Mostly with a seven-year-old, because it was scary to me to risk real dancing.  When a dear friend kindly volunteered her husband to dance with me, I felt like that cardboard cut-out again–embarrassed by my lack of know-how, even though no one was making fun of me.  Political science class had taught me I was no dancing machine.

Since then, I haven’t had much chance to dance, except “by myself”, as I got so ribbed for in college.  Even when I dance “by myself”, I am sometimes shy, afraid there’s a hidden camera in the room or something!

However . . I am now in the middle of an “extreme surprise” from God that has caught me off guard.  That surprise started on a mission trip this summer.  Somehow, someway, I wound up doing what I would term “Sandra Boynton ballet dance” with a Spanish maraca.

And, by the sheer and powerful grace of God, even after seeing my Sandra Boynton ballet dance, a man I met on that trip (Ben) fell in love with me.

There’s a funny thing I’ve discovered about falling in love.  Most of the time, when two people fall in love, at least one person seems to want to dance, don’t they?  🙂  And Ben wants to dance.

Probably the only thing I am qualified to do in a ballroom is drink punch and eat cookies.

There are the typical questions anyone who is as socially awkward and self-conscious as I am might ask:

What if Ben tries to teach me how to dance, and he finds out I’m more pathetic of a dancer than he thought? 

What if he secretly ridicules my tries to learn? 

What if it takes me too long to learn, and he gives up on me? 

What if he’s embarrassed by how I dance? 

What if people see us dancing and think how stupid I look?

The thing is, for me to dance with Ben–for me to let him teach me how to dance–I have to trust him.  It’s that simple.  And that hard.

I have to hope that, if I am more difficult to dance with than a millipede, Ben won’t give up on me.

Letting Ben teach me how to dance, in a small way, reminds me of how we come to God for salvation.  We have to trust that God’s love for us is real.  We hope that He won’t betray our trust, mock us, or give up on us.

Hebrews 11:6 says,

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

It’s easy to avoid, play dumb, or become confrontational when we find ourselves in circumstances we know spotlight our weaknesses.  But all of us find ourselves in this circumstance when we face our sin.  None of us know how to live right.  None of us is clever enough or self-controlled enough to figure out how to please God.  We all need His forgiveness, wisdom, protection, and guidance.

The only way we can get that is through Jesus Christ.  It takes faith.  Faith is scary.

But scary is worth it.

I believe Ben is trustworthy, and I think he can maybe even teach me how to dance.  But I have to trust him.

–And I know God is trustworthy, & He will forgive my sin through Jesus Christ and teach me how to live a right life.  I have to, and I have chosen to, trust Him.

He has never let me down.  He has never broken, betrayed, or misused my trust.  Rather, every time I trust Him, He gives me more reason to trust Him than ever before.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;

do not depend on your own understanding.

Seek his will in all you do,

and he will show you which path to take.

(Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT)


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