[an extended entry]
While our dancing may be awful, it isn’t wrong. And yes, some churches still believe dancing is wrong. I can’t imagine how if you’ve read the Bible, seen Ren’s sermonette in the 80′s flick Footloose, or been in my kitchen after dinner time.
Psalm 149:3, “Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp.”
Psalm 150:3-5, “Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.
Buy the DVD of Footloose at Amazon.
Usually its Beyonce. Single Ladies. Sometimes Fergie. G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S. Dinner is finished and I clear the table as my wife, Kristy, clicks on our “dance party” playlist. Kristy and our 15-month old little girl, Josie, join me in the kitchen for a ritual that’s new to me. Dancing. I’m not from a dancing family. We were calm. Polite. Somewhat orderly. Kristy’s from a dancing family – after dinner, during commercials, in the car.
I’ve come a long way in the past seven years of dating and marriage. At first I was reserved, searching for a friend and corner at any wedding reception we attended, settling for a table, conversation and glass of sweet tea. Never having been a big drinker limited the easy, and careless, avenue to freedom. But Kristy stayed with me, gently persuading me. And in time my foot began to rise to the rhythm and eventually my hips began to swing. So this is my confession, my declaration of transformation. I proudly proclaim – I dance! It’s not pretty but it is often.
This nightly ritual of dancing in the kitchen has become my favorite time of the day. Josie electrifies as she hears the music begin to blare. It’s as if furied energy bursts through the floor into her tiny feet and fair-skinned legs, entering her little chest, almost knocking her to the ground. She gains her balance and begins her horribly awkward leaning and spinning. She drops to the floor shooting a leg out here or there, twisting around as an artless break dancer. She stands and jerks like a robot, clapping her hands, looking at us for affirmation. We usually smile and hoot if we aren’t caught up in our own dance move at the moment.
I see only pieces of this footloose child on Sundays as we bring her into the main church service for the final few songs. She claps and raises her arms but no break dancing. Nothing compares to her in our kitchen. There is something about home that brings freedom.
I think its love.
At home Josie knows she is loved. At church there are three thousand other people who could be watching her and thinking something, judging her. At home our love grants her a freedom to go for it. To look silly and enjoy it anyways. Love grants dancing. It brings freedom.
Love has this way, to affect behavior. I used to think of love as a gift, something you could fit in a box with a ribbon. Like a cashmere sweater or even a diamond. But loves isn’t static. It moves. When received it doesn’t sit idle in one’s heart as a diamond does on a finger. Love moves around finding areas that need its goodness, affecting motives and thoughts and living.
I used to worry that telling people about a love so glorious that it forgives anything and is conditioned upon nothing would grant people a license to rebel – they’d head for the strip clubs, sleep around, and stab people in the back as they climb the ladder. But God’s love doesn’t work that way, religion may, but not love. The love of God transforms behavior, it doesn’t demand it. We receive as we are, with no merit or religious strivings needed. Complete grace. His giving. This gift frees us from guilt and performance. It leads us to right standing with God and begins a new motion in our hearts. This love begs us to dance.
So tonight Josie will dance again. I’ll watch my little girl twirl and sway to the music. I’ll see her freed by love, dancing as I hope to live.