Sunday, May 15, 2011

Shall We Dance?

High heels. Sports shoes. Cute flats. Funky sneakers. Footwear at the ready, we crowded merrily into the living room as Sara began to explain her idea to us – a music video to the song “Footloose”. Each of us would show off our shoes and our fancy footwork as she recorded short clips ready to edit together for part of the video.  

“I have no idea what to do! I can’t dance!” I wailed, only half-joking, to a friend.
“Me neither,” she laughed. “Let’s go into the hallway and practice.” Three of us slipped away to stand before the full length mirror in the hall and tap and shuffle around to the beat.
“Somebody choreograph for me!” I part-giggled, part-sighed. “I have no idea what to do with my feet. My creativity is gone!”  
Eventually, with the help of my friends, I figured something out. It’s definitely a challenge to dance in 4-inch stilettos! 
(These were the shoes. Aren’t they gorgeous?!)

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with dancing. When I was a little girl, I would put on classical music and whirl around the room with my invisible partner, dancing with blissful abandon. I loved watching Riverdance and musicals, and went through a period of being obsessed with ballet. I bought ballet slippers and practiced standing en pointe and doing perfect arabesques. I felt so elegant. As I got older, I gradually broadened out my dancing interests, adding, for example, swing, Latin, and breakdancing/street to the styles I liked. I loved dance movies. 

But somewhere along the way, I’d lost all interest in actually dancing myself.  I got shy and awkward. I didn’t think I was beautiful dancing, or at any other time for that matter. I wished that I could dance. Occasionally, in the privacy of my room, I would practice sexy nightclub moves and then laugh at how ridiculous I thought I looked! I couldn’t dance. I had no rhythm. My body wouldn’t flow into the patterns I admired other people doing. Whether I actually looked as absurd as I thought I did, I don’t know. But I was hugely self-conscious, painfully aware of other people’s opinions, and too fearful to let myself dance.

In fact, the random foot movement in my towering heels for the music video was the first “dancing” I’ve allowed myself to do in a long time. I was not elegant. Frankly I felt like an elephant attempting to be graceful, causing a small earthquake with each step…but I had fun! And I contributed to something bigger than myself.

There are other things I haven’t let myself do because of fear. Fear of looking silly, fear of other people’s opinions, fear of not knowing all the steps, as it were. I’ve missed out, and worse, other people might have missed out because I wouldn’t offer myself.

“Do not give way to fear.” 1 Peter 3:6.

God is asking me to dance again, the dance of my life. I want to let myself go in blissful abandon. I want to get lost in the music. I’m still a bit scared. I certainly don’t know all the steps. But God, I’m discovering, is a good partner – a strong lead I can follow. I don’t have to be embarrassed to learn, because he’s a patient teacher. I just have to lean into his arms and let him lead. Eventually his steps will become my own, as I let his perfect love cast out my fear, and get swept away in the beauty of the dance. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

He loves it

He was four years old. Dressed in a miniature tuxedo and carrying his baby violin, the audience cooed collectively as he walked onto the stage. His chubby face sombre with concentration, he began to play.

“Twinkle, twinkle little star.” It was just a simple tune. Perhaps it was the first the child had ever learnt; the notes were scratchy, drawn out, and missed here and there. “Twiiiiiiiinkle, twiiiiinkle….starrrrr.” Compared to the other children in the concert program, this little boy was a beginner of beginners, but he was utterly unconcerned about how his piece compared to the more complicated melodies that came before him. He played on.

It was a masterpiece. The audience went wild! The applause was thunderous. Cheers and wolf whistles rang out across the room as he took his triumphant final bow. I clapped as enthusiastically as the rest of the crowd as the boy trotted off stage, cradling his instrument.

Looking at my own life, sometimes it feels like my attempts to please God are like the four-year-old’s “Twinkle, twinkle little star” to another child’s Beethoven. Simple, scratchy, and sometimes out of rhythm. But God loves it. He goes wild for the smallest thing I do because I love him. Instead of being worried about my "melody" and my ability being compared to someone else, I should just continue to play. Knowing that God thinks it’s beautiful.

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