At the risk of sounding prideful, I tend to not like doing things that I am not entirely awesome at doing. I know my strengths. Partnering in a game of Taboo? Get ready to slay. I’m your girl. Partnering up for a game of bowling. Nope! Hopeless. I’m also bad at pool and geometry so maybe I just don’t have a knack for angles. At any rate, if I know I don’t excel at something, the chances of getting me to try it again are very slim. This explains why I can count the amount of times I have slow danced on one hand. I am painfully terrible at it.
Now I am a pretty good dancer. I love to dance. I was the little kid that would hear music then start dancing, only to look up and discover that people had formed a circle around me. I absolutely love to feel music on my own and have gone out dancing completely by myself numerous times.
I get easily embarrassed. I can't look into the other person's eyes and my body just seems to fall limp. To make matters worse, I begin to think too hard about it. I start thinking things like "I don't have enough experience in this. I don’t feel like he’s leading me right. What if he starts leading me into something I don’t want to do, like a dip? Does he really think I trust him enough to dip me?! Wouldn't this be better if I led? Why do we have to be dancing SO close? “ This is why, more often than not, I prefer to dance by myself. But what’s scary is that at some point this mentality somehow spilled over into how I viewed relationships.
What an interesting parallel slow dancing is. Two people, connected by the rhythm of one force (love/music), attempting to keep in step by moving in opposite ways that compliment one another while one of them leads. The thought of it is absolutely beautiful but the reality of it freaks me all the way out. I discovered this one night while dancing with my friend Damien.
Now I don't know too many guys that I trust and respect more than Damien. However, every time he has taken my hand to dance with him, I have a problem letting myself enjoy it. It's not that I don't feel safe with him because I do, one hundred percent. It's just that my own insecurity makes me fear that perhaps I won’t be good at following his lead. I mean, I have been dancing on my own for a pretty long time. But no matter how much I resist and say "I am no good at this", Damien simply smiles, doesn't let my hand go and keeps on dancing with me. Now I used to think that this was because at 6'2 he has a whole foot on me so he can’t hear me over the music yelling at him to let me go. But I later discovered that for one, he is patient, and two, he doesn't think I am as bad at dancing as I do. The last time we danced I tried my best to run off after he twirled me around but he grabbed my hand and twirled me right back into him. As much as I tried to enjoy it, I was just too embarrassed to loosen up.
Okay maybe I did enjoy it; but just a smidge.
We talked about it later and Damien said something that has always stuck with me. "When you dance with someone you need to stand firm." He then put his hand on the small of my back and straightened me up. "Your arm has to be stiff. It shouldn't be limp" he said as he wiggled my arm showing me how loose it was.
When he firmly grabbed my hand, I immediately straightened up and stood firm right in front of him. It felt right and I felt confident. I felt strong enough to let my partner lead.
Isn't that what it's all about though; choosing the right partner and then trusting them enough to let them lead? I think sometimes as single women we feel in order to "dance" we are going to have to become weak and spineless in order to let a man lead. We are afraid that somehow we will lose ourselves in the dance and not be who we really are. Some of us do lose ourselves in relationships. However, the right partner, the right leader, wants you to stand firm and be strong. You really can't move on rhythmically together otherwise. Also, you can't be a bully and demand to lead either. Just ask my date from my junior prom. After a while, we literally just stopped dancing and came to a standstill. A complete waste of a perfectly good Keith Sweat song.
Now for the record, I have no problem with a man leading. For the love of God, I wish I actually knew some men who would step up and initiate a "dance" or two. My awkwardness when it comes to slow dancing truly is the perfect metaphor because honestly, I really can be a bit shy sometimes with men I don't know. That's why I think it's imperative to be friends first. Friendships help to develop trust. If we weren’t friends and Damien tried to dance with me and wouldn't let me go after I tried to pull away from him, he would soon be painfully limping his way off the dance floor. But because we are friends and he’s an upstanding guy, he knows how to lead with patience, with love, gentleness, kindness, and self-control. According to I Corinthians 13, that’s the only way to lead when it comes to love. It's the only way to follow too.
To all of my single ladies out there waiting on their last first dance, here's hoping that we will all get to dancing soon.