As a young girl, I loved the rain. I loved dancing in the rain, running in the rain, just being in the rain. I have vivid memories of grabbing my dad’s small black umbrella and heading out, the back storm door crashing wildly behind me. I was headed to the driveway. Our driveway was grey gravel and often had potholes. It came from a busy highway and curved around the side of our house opening up to a parking area nestled between the back side of our home and a little well house. Mama had planters added, signifying the end of the drive and the beginning of our backyard. I would run down the four brick steps, umbrella flapping above my blonde head, and jump wild with both feet slamming down into the first puddle of mud I found.
I’m sure my mom appreciated the mud splatter on those white Keds week after week. Water splashing wild I would dart to the next one, mud upon mud in a glorious display of childhood lived large. I would walk the length of that driveway stepping in puddles and singing songs to myself. Sometimes I would make up stories, playing the role of the always-championing protagonist. Those memories are some of my favorite from childhood, dancing in the rain, twirling and spinning, raindrops flinging and darting from the carousel umbrella.
And then, as happens for all of us in various ways, the innocence was slowly taken. Walking and dancing down driveways in pure bliss turned to concern over clothes, hair, makeup and boys. The boys came around often in those days and my heart forgot how to dance free.
Lack of concern for muddy white Keds turned into seeking the approval of man. I was always searching for the next one to make me feel special. I was lost in a world of man’s approval and my desperation for it. There was no time for the rain dance. It became a distant memory and a notion that would just mess up my hair, makeup and get my clothes wet. Then I would have to change and it would be cold and wet and cold and wet and I would be late and ……ughhh…..rain. Who has time for rain?
But freedom came. It is for freedom that Christ set us free. It is for an abundant life that He came. Life abundant. Copious, profuse, lavish, bountiful, huge, prolific…life. I wasn’t living abundantly. I was living in mediocrity. The days weighed heavy. The laundry piles, the dishes sticky with last night’s pancake dinner, the little hearts asking the deep soul questions. And, me, trying to just make it from one sun up to the next.
Grieving with the Lord over the boredom of my life’s calling in motherhood, I heard His still small voice: Dance in the rain.
It took weeks of me hearing Him say it to obey. There was always a good reason – it’s too windy, too dark, the kids are cranky, I’m not in the mood right now, did I just hear thunder? And then Tuesday came. I was out of excuses and it was a deluge. No thunder. No lightning. No errands to run. And three little faces I knew would absolutely shrivel up and die if mama not only let them play in the rain, but joined them in the dance. So we did it. Jackets and boots and old-ish clothes and out we went.
They tumbled out the door like children coming downstairs on Christmas morning, all toppling over each other, clambering to be the first one to feel the cold pelt cheek. I stood back for a moment. Waiting. I think I was waiting for Him to speak, for some grand gesture from the heavenlies that my time had come.
I hid behind my camera phone for a few moments, videos and snapshots of red curls mud splattered and peaking from behind black hoods, blonde daughter jumping high with all her might to come down again and watch water curl into air. And I flashed back to my black umbrella and my white Keds and the freedom of those moments and I ran. I dropped my phone and ran. Leaping off the porch, skipping the two concrete steps completely, I suddenly found myself standing arms flung wide in the middle of my front yard, face to the darkened sky, cold drops splattering shoulders, hair and forehead. And I spun. I closed my eyes tight and I spun around listening to the rain pelt and my kids squeal.
We played in the rain for a while that day. We splashed in puddles and danced in circles, our fingers interlaced while our feet skipped. We fell into the wet grass and got sad when it seemed like the rainclouds were closing up shop.
There is a great freedom that comes in returning to the dances of our childhood innocence. A part of my soul cracked loose that day. Most adults scoff at those of us who aren’t afraid to enter into the simple and silly, like dancing in the rain just because. But there is joy immeasurable in joining full force in the freedom of choosing to dance through this life. Why walk, run or even skip…when you could dance? A few days later, the talk of the day mama danced in the rain makes my little ones saucer-eyed and giddy, the boots are still trying to dry and my soul is brim full.
Julie Forman is a wife and mama to 3 tiny humans all under the age of 4. A Texas transplant from the great state of North Carolina, she finds the heat unbearable and the people charming. She enjoys dance parties in the kitchen, the magic of the coffee bean and writing. You can find her blogging here (though the dance parties get in the way of that a bit) and filling her days with laughter, diapers and sippy cups.