It takes tremendous faith and trust to follow.
I never realized how much of this I lacked until I started taking ballroom dancing lessons with my husband a year ago. As we stood face to face and hand in hand we began to sync up with the rhythm in the room, in our hearts. He began to move and step on my feet and go the wrong way. Everything in me protested. “No! You are doing it wrong!” Anger that I didn’t know was there arose– a feeling and a message “you are not safe!” it shouted. And then I quickly shut down. Unable to learn and move together. Unable to fall into grace. Suddenly the man I love became the enemy. He was breaking the rules and doing it all wrong.
The teacher picked up on the tension. He gently reminded the women that we must follow. Let the men lead. I thought I was a good follower, but clearly that was not the case.
My internal feelings of danger kept building and by the time we got into the parking lot I was ready to explode. Kevin couldn’t understand my anger and neither could I. I had no words. There was a lot of shame and just below the surface, a geyser of tears. I sat on the curb right outside the college and wept inconsolably. Kevin was so confused. It was our anniversary and he was taking this dance class for me, as a gift and in response to my heart’s desire.
“I want to dance!” my heart cries out. Just below the desire is horrific terror and fear.
It is so hard for me to understand. Kevin is a good man and he has loved me with tenderness and care, but something inside me is ready to fight. I can’t soften into his arms; I want to flee.
That day on the concrete I realized it is hard for me to trust, not only Kevin, but also God. Though I love and honor my dad’s legacy, he didn’t necessarily lead me tenderly. Although the truth in scripture comforts and guides, there is a place in me, deeper than the language, that believes that the story-tale love of Jesus is not for me. I keep my arm stiff in protest.
There is something so vulnerable about Kevin’s willingness to step toward me in my desire. Why does it feel like a train wreck?
We finished the class and danced together for 8 weeks. The dance became a metaphor for our life. The way we move together and apart. When he lifts his arms and heart, there is a frame of support. The teacher calls that the wings of an eagle. He says “if you get confused, just come back to the center and sway together.” But I forget. I get impatient and there is a pride in me that wants to be good, better than I am. I feel deep frustration for the gap between where I am and where I long to be.
It is hard to see the dark places in yourself. It takes courage to really see and address the way you are still bound to “less than.” But you must do this work, if you are to release the past and choose to grow and step forward. Say “sorry” and keep stepping. Even if you get it wrong and need to step back to the center and sway together like you are dancing in 7th grade one hundred times. Together we can grow and become more than we could alone. We can learn to trust and follow. We could become leaders together.
I went to a friend to do Immanuel prayer during this same season. She was gifted in the way she cared for and ushered me toward the presence of God. With my eyes closed and my heart attuned toward the Spirit, she asked me to notice where the presence of God was, and in a short time I saw Jesus on the dance floor asking me to dance. He held me and I wept on his shoulder and then he looked me in the eyes and assured me of a perfect love that was dispelling the fear in the depths of my soul. He smiled and began to lead me into the dance. I followed and allowed myself to receive the support and guidance I needed to fall into grace. It was such a gift.
Last weekend I watched my son, Jeremy’s high school musical performance. He and his swing choir modeled something that I need to practice every day. The girls gracefully fell into the arms of the young men and it was beautiful. If they were trembling in fear, it would never work. They were falling, leaping, and twirling in a perfect trust. They were caught, held, and supported in strong and able arms. I want to trust and fall, and I am still scared, but I am learning every day.
Jean Masukevich is a special education and yoga teacher. She holds an advanced certificate in grief and trauma from the Allender Center and is passionate about facilitating healing spaces for children and families. She teaches and encourages integration of mind, body, and the Holy Spirit through yoga/narrative/art therapy. Jean loves to play outside and enjoys quality time with her husband and four awesome children. You can find her here.