Sway with me.

Of all the stories I get to tell, the one of meeting my husband is one of my favorites.

After completing grad school, I returned to my hometown. The years away were difficult emotionally and the young woman who returned home was vastly different from the one who had left three years prior. Returning home meant returning to my childhood church where I had been known for who I used to be. The pain and shame that now followed me needed to remain hidden as I felt far too fragile to be exposed. Entering life back home yielded many questions on a regular basis, the most common one being about my relationship status.

There was a lot of energy and talk surrounding the new junior high youth pastor and the suggestion that I meet him came up numerous times in the first few weeks I was home. When I did meet him, the hype had been more than I could handle and the honesty of my heart blasted him as I informed him that everyone in the church wanted me to meet him and I wanted absolutely nothing to do with him.

He turned thirty-two that summer and had been in youth ministry for three years. Having only been at my home church for a few months, he had already been introduced to several women in an attempt to find this eligible bachelor a wife. Having experienced his share of betrayal and games by the time I met him, he was rather reluctant to the idea of another introduction. He was friendly when we met and upon hearing my statement he breathed a sigh of relief as he responded, “that sounds fine to me!”

Two years passed with both of us on separate journeys towards discovering what we wanted in relationships. There was heartbreak along the way for both of us and questions unanswered when it came to when and if true love would ever come. One night, while a group of us were all hanging out at a friend’s house something changed for both of us and it was as if we noticed one another for the first time.

By the time we finally started dating I knew that I was serious and started imagining the two of us together. So did he, after moving to California for music school. I was familiar with this story, the one where someone moves away. The one where life is changed and what once was is no longer.

I wrestled as I tried to believe that this would be different, that what we had could last but honestly I had no idea how it would.

The months leading up to the March departure were challenging and sweet, tender and raw.

Weeks before he was scheduled to move, we were honored to stand with friends as they became husband and wife. The weekend was filled with hope and celebration and when it was time to dance, the floor was filled with laughter and joy. As the music transitioned to slower, romantic songs our dance shifted. Our joy coupled with sadness in anticipation of the year ahead brought a peaceful sense of intimacy.

A year apart turned out to be only six months apart as a pinched nerve proved to be impossible to tolerate when playing guitar up to seven hours a day. As he returned home, the familiarity of ambivalence filled my heart as I realized that one of his dreams was dying as one of ours was coming true.

Our engagement was grand and the wedding even more so. The night we were married, our friend and pastor gave a charge which he shared in the form of an acrostic, reflective of our relationship and also a way to remember the words shared that day. He prefaced our word with a story about a night when he felt uncertain about the future of our relationship as we headed into a season apart. He remembered watching us as we danced at our friends’ wedding and knew that we would be okay.

Our word was “DANCE.” The word that day brought great joy to my heart. I remember feeling like it was absolutely our word and at the same time I was acutely aware that we had also struggled with dancing. The following and leading, the coordination and rhythm were both awkward at times and unfamiliar. Yet, someone had seen us together had appreciated our dance. Although he was not completely aware of the emotions and stories behind our dance that night, he named the beauty in our dance as it was the communication of emotion expressed in physical form.

Emotion expressed in physical form. I can think of numerous ways that we choose to express our emotion in physical form other than dance, and yet dance seems to be the primary avenue to express the wide array of emotions that we carry within our bodies. There is beauty in the dance of pleasure and connecting between husband and wife, and there is beauty in the dance of suffering when dreams are lost and hope is wavering. There is beauty in the free form dance of a lively spirit and there is beauty in the structured dance of a conservative soul. Whether we are dancing alone, in a group, or with just one…we are able to connect our minds, bodies, souls, and hearts and there is honestly nothing else I’d rather do than dance!

I love to dance. I love to dance joyfully in the kitchen with my husband and boys when Uptown Funk or Feel Good, Inc. starts blasting through our speakers. And, I love to tenderly dance a slow dance of sorrow when my husband and I embrace and shuffle our feet back and forth as we listen to “I’m Worn” by Tenth Avenue North.

Whether laughing or in tears, we will dance. We’ll dance until we see Jesus face to face. I’m guessing though that we’ll probably dance even more at that very moment when there is no more sorrow and no more tears.

DSC_0533Bethany Cabell is a Texas transplant, residing in Michigan with her husband and their two young boys.  A lover of beauty, she lives life chasing after wide-open spaces: sharing her heart with others, in relationship with Jesus, and through music and photography. She tells her story here.