Learning to Dance

I’m not a fan of partner dancing. Salsa, tango, waltz, jitterbug…it’s all lost on me. I like watching people dance, but when it comes to my own rug cutting, I’m a mess. Living in California, salsa can be part of ones social life. It’s an expression of joy, a release of the day’s worries and a way to connect face to face with someone. For me it’s a pressure cooker I try to avoid. Once, for my friend’s birthday, we went to a dance club. I took the lesson they offered at the beginning and fared fine (I didn’t say I couldn’t dance), but once the open dancing started I lasted all of two songs before I found myself hiding in the car.

On another occasion, an older gentlemen asked me to dance. It was clear he enjoyed the dance itself. Over and over this grandfatherly voice would encourage me, “Relax.  Let me lead.  Relax.”

I realized that I struggle with partner dancing because I don’t know how to be lead.  In salsa, your partner nudges you in one direction and you go with that suggestions. Sometimes they suggest going to the left or right in a subtle way and sometimes they take a firmer grip as they raise your arm to twirl you around. What was a fun night out becomes a theological struggle for me as I immediately realize that my inability to let the guy lead the dance is in direct correlation to my difficultly letting God lead my dance. How many times did I fight back when I knew God was nudging me in a certain direction? How many times did I question the leading? How many times did I question my own ability to follow?

In my Esther Salon year I decided to pray over this. I prayed and asked God to help me follow better. In the stillness of my prayers I saw images of dancing. I felt God calling me to enjoy the dance. Each morning I would ask “What kind of dance shall we do today?” And each morning God would answer with a different kind of dance.

The first day I pictured a waltz. It was fast paced and orchestrated. I could picture letting God lead me through the steps and around the room, spinning us both and gliding through the crowd. My partner in the dance was in charge of the direction and my only responsibility was to relax and let God lead. That same day someone offered me suite seats to a Warriors NBA game with a few good friends. I can barely afford to buy cheap tickets to a game, let alone sit in box seats. It was an opportunity I didn’t see coming, but one that I truly enjoyed. There are fun surprises in the dance.

Another day I would picture salsa dancing. The dance changed everyday. My favorite days would be when I felt the freedom to “free style”.  This season of prayer was an exercise in relaxing and enjoying the day as I let God lead.

Exercise:  Pray and ask God what the dance of the day will be. Sometimes it may be a fast paced dance and sometimes a slow and intimate one, but allow the space to listen and hear. Use your imagination. Listen to the silence. Allow the first dance thought to dictate your day.  Relax and let God lead.

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