Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dancing & Trusting

A few months back I decided to sign up for swing dancing lessons.

I don’t know exactly why I felt compelled to add something to an already full schedule, but perhaps some childlike notions of whimsically gliding across the dance floor were lodged deep in my head.  That and the notion that my mind needed a break from trying to solve the world’s problems that meet me in my day job.

So, swing dancing. Sure, why not?  It can’t be that hard!

It wasn’t exactly your group of protégé dancers who showed up on night one (or nights 2 or 3 for that matter).  Within a few lessons it was clear I was among a motley crew of wannabes and the likes of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire were not in our midst.  So much for my daydreams!

Each lesson my 2 left feet would give it another go, always hoping the instructor would call ‘switch’ and I would end up dancing with him.  Not because of any sort of romantic intrigue, but simply because he could dance, something at which the other gentlemen in the group were failing. 

The thing about dancing is that it really matters who is leading.  When you’re with someone who knows how to lead, things begin to fall into place.  Suddenly your 2 left feet find the rhythm and you can fool a few people into thinking you actually know what you’re doing. 

But I’ll be honest, even in the arms of the instructor, I have a hard time following.

Just as I am sighing relief that I’m dancing with the teacher, he would say ever so firmly,

“Karen, you’re trying to lead—stop!” 
(Make sure you say Karen with a good Russian accent for full effect- “Kahhren”).

This would happen over and over again as I would attempt to relinquish control, take a deep breath and let him lead. 

Just when I would think I was relaxing into his lead he would stop me and say,
“You’re doing it again!” 

Oh dear, and here I thought I was getting it!!

“Just close your eyes. Stop thinking so hard and close your eyes.”

 So, I did.  And the funniest thing happened. 

The second I closed my eyes and relaxed in his lead, I could follow.
Sometimes that feeling of relaxing would only last for a moment or two and before I knew it I was struggling to take control, but then he’d only whisper,

“Stop thinking.  Trust me.”

As I settled into the music, turned off my control instinct and relaxed, suddenly the steps would flow.

Suddenly I was hearing accolades instead of correction.

Suddenly I was dancing.

As I continued to glide around the room, eyes closed, I felt the Holy Spirit reminding me of this same lesson he’s been trying to instill in my faith walk.

 Letting go of control and following.

As I’ve been going back week after week I can’t get this parallel out of my mind.
Every time I attempt to control and lead on the dance floor I feel like there is a mirror being lifted before my face reflecting how I try to control God- to put him in my box of the way I want things to go-- because I think I know the steps better.

There is a song that I heard not long ago - a direct echo of this lesson that I’ve been slow at learning.  Hearing it the first time, tears welled up in my eyes, for it put into words my struggle on the dance floor and my struggle with the Lord.  

You steady me, slow and sweet.
We sway, take the lead, and I will follow.
Finally ready now, to close my eyes, and just believe that you won’t lead me where you don’t go.
When my faith gets tired and my hope seems lost,
You spin me round and around and remind me of that song, the one you wrote for me.
And we dance,
Oh, we dance.
Just you and me.
And I will lock eyes with the one who has ransomed me
The one who gave me joy for mourning.
And I will lock eyes with the one who has chosen me.
The one who set my feet to dancing.

It’s nice to know I’m not alone, I’ve found my home here in your arms.
(Steffany Gretzinger, Bethel Music 2014)

What a beautiful picture of the dance of this life.

As I listen, I'm reminded that I need not fear that I’m dancing with the new student with 2 left feet. 

I’m dancing with the instructor.

I’m dancing with the one who has choreographed the steps and knows the music.

I’m dancing in the embrace of the safest arms, which means I can close my eyes and trust where He is leading. 


Joanna said...


Thanks for sharing this. It's just what I needed to hear. :)

By the way, is there a way I could get in touch with you and hear more about the work you do with Orphan's Promise?

God bless from Taiwan,

Steve Kilpatrick said...

Thanks for sharing - my Karen and I tried swing lessons a bunch of years ago with some other co-workers and had a lot of laughs and a few groans. Experienced the same results you mention above. I still resist the dance floor whenever I can!

I have to say your spiritual parallel has also been my experience on both the positive and not so positive similarities.

Blessings to you in your writing and your world changing ministry!

Steve and Karen Kilpatrick

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