Monday, October 5, 2015

Dancing Lessons

Our Wedding Day Dance
Years ago for Christmas my daughters gave my husband and me dancing lessons. Four lessons at a professional dance studio. Four appointments with a private dance instructor to learn to the rumba, the waltz, and the cha-cha. We were a little stunned, but we decided to give it a whirl. What could we lose? Maybe it would be fun; certainly, the participation in the classes held a romantic aura. 
Each week we donned fancy clothes and went on our dancing date. Newly engaged we were in the midst of the I’m-learning-even-more-about-you-stage. Steve walked over to my house and out to his car, opened the car door for me (he still does, always). I scooted into the car with weak knees and butterflies. What was the root of these flutterings? Nervousness about dancing? Or because of the striking handsomeness of the man of mine? These dance dates proved to be awkward and challenging. Our self-consciousness raised to new levels. Certainly there was something incredibly romantic about those nights in that studio. Being held in his arms and looking up into his face seemed to be movie material—but we discovered (or admitted) that we both had two left feet.

When envisioning the lessons, I saw us gliding gracefully across the floor. Every movement choreographed together, synched. As close as we were and are I thought we would anticipate each other’s movements. I thought I would be able to follow his lead. What a picture we would make, I dreamed. 

This dream was far from the reality of the situation. We were awkward and disconnected. Stiff and tight. The rhythm of the dances didn’t come naturally to us. We were too busy counting and trying to remember the next set of steps. I’m not sure who was more uncomfortable? Steve or me? Our instructors were patient, tolerant. But their eyes spoke volumes: This couple is hopeless.  We knew it too, but at the end of our gift package, we decided to sign up for four more lessons, not because we thought we could dance. Not because we were determined to be great dancers. No. We signed up because we were learning something hard together—a built-in weekly date that forced us beyond our comfort zones and into trusting each other.
The waltz came the easiest, though far from elegant. We didn’t know how to guide our feet on the floor or how to keep our eyes pivoted away from our feet. We had no innate rhythm. The instructors kept encouraging us to raise our chins and look at each other. And for a few moments when we followed these instructions we danced. Briefly.

I’m sure the instructors felt a bit awkward themselves. Steve and I couldn’t dance, but we were in love. Written all over us was this “I’m crazy about him stare, and this I can’t look at her enough gleam.” And we did not bother to hide it.  If anything we reveled in it, and the instructors had front row seats. Thankfully, they often turned their heads and allowed us our private moments.
At the end of the second set of sessions, we discussed the option of investing in more lessons. We laughed and decided to invest our money elsewhere. We opted out of the sales pitch, and the somewhat insincere “but you are doing so well”. We knew better.

This week I thought about the value of those lessons. Those eight lessons solidified something in us that had nothing to do with dancing.
These lessons taught us to ask questions and evaluate. How would we interact and respond and react to the difficult and uncomfortable places in life?  What choices would we make when we just couldn’t get it right? How would we handle the reality that there would be situations when we both would have two left feet? What would we do when we couldn’t find the why or the how? What would we do when we stepped on each other’s toes or missed steps or moved in the wrong direction? These lessons helped set a precedent for what would we do, as a couple, with the challenges in life.

We still dance. At the weddings and chaperoning school dances and in our kitchen. We still have two left feet. We don’t remember any of the steps of choreography. But what we learned and still know is how to keep looking at each other. To lift our eyes away from our feet and look at each other, through love rather than perfection and expectation. In those dance classes, we learned that even with two left feet we danced well with each other. We met and meet challenges together. My hand in his, his hand on the small of my back, leading me even when I am moving backward. 
After we had married, long after the lessons were over, we were in Wal-mart. In the middle of the household department, Steve caught me up in his arms and pulled me close. We danced—swaying and laughing and gazing at each other. We didn’t care about steps or choreography or who was watching. We danced in and because of joy. Silly wonderful delight.

More often than not we dance through life with two left feet—a weakness and limitation that makes the tricky combinations quite difficult. But our Father knows our frames. He knows about our two left feet, our lack of rhythm, and our awkward lilt. But when we dance in spite of being uncomfortable and self-conscious, he is delighted. Laughs right with us.
Friends, dance. Lay down the self-conscious censoring. Put aside the unreasonable expectations. Give over the hobbling limitations. Seriously. Just put your hand in the Father’s, look into his face and dance. 



christylw39 said...

You allowed us into a personal, private space today....and the take away was very much needed. Thank you for blessing each of us through your gift of writing. Never stop.

christylw39 said...

You allowed us into a personal, private space today....and the take away was very much needed. Thank you for blessing each of us through your gift of writing. Never stop.

Margaret Welwood said...

That was sweet! Thank you.

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