My wife wanted just one thing for her birthday. She quietly, but consistently eroded my defenses until I gave in to her persistent pleas – for a dance lesson. So I reluctantly agreed to have my daughter Tricia, and her then-fiancé, Lawrence, set up the fear-provoking event one warm, Chicago afternoon.
The instructor greeted us at the door for the one-hour lesson. This poor middle-aged, veteran instructor was about to meet his match and discover the limits of his patience with his new rookie student.
He said, “Let’s start simple.” Let’s just say we never got beyond that – simple.
He politely showed me how to dance in a square – quick, quick, slow, quick, quick, slow. I was thinking, “You are getting paid $60 an hour to show me this?” But he was painfully not pleased with my progress – and I could tell my birthday bride was not impressed with my sluggish learning ability either!
Then he commenced to clap the beat. “Do you hear this? You can hear the beat, can’t you?” I looked the Master Dancer in the eyes and said, “Actually, no.” Ever patient, he tapped the palm of his hand to demonstrate the beat again…and again…and again.
At that point I was sweating. I glanced at the dance room clock and it mocked me by displaying that the dance lesson was only 7 minutes in. “Fifty-three minutes to go,” I thought to myself.
I have spoken to nearly 2,000 people in one setting. I have raised five children and traveled to some pretty scary places on earth, but nothing prepared me for this. My palms were drenched and this skinny little instructor was really starting to annoy me!
I then made the mistake of looking over at Laurence and Tricia. They were entwined in each other’s embrace and melodically sashaying (or whatever you call it) all over the dance floor.
The image is burned in my mind…they were SMILING…laughing even…and (contrary to my experience) they seemed to be immensely enjoying themselves!
My instructor’s voice snapped me back into my unfortunate reality… “Can you do this?” he asked, dancing a simple square and murmuring, “quick, quick, slow, quick, quick, slow.” Over and over and over he asked me the same question. “You can hear this beat, can’t you?”
“No, no, no, you idiot…if you ask me a million times, the answer will always be the same!”
I felt like a loser. I really wanted to share with him that I have a Master’s Degree in Psychology and am really not a total failure in life, but I realized he did not care about my degree or pedigree.
My breathing accelerated. I knew he was going to want me to duplicate his steps in just a nanosecond. I was lost. I froze. My wife stifled a chuckle; she knew better than to laugh and was wise enough to bridle the temptation to make a cute remark. Instead, she encouraged me with kind words. “You can do it honey.”
Those are the same words she used to use when she would encourage our children after they just swung and missed the baseball and had two strikes against them; or just before my son was about to be pinned in a conference wrestling match. That was what you say to losers, to those going down for the last time.
Everything was a blur. It seemed surreal. I glanced at the clock again – bad idea – only 5 more minutes had elapsed. Tricia and Lawrence were gleefully parading around the room like they have been dancing for years together. For just a micro-minute I did not like my daughter or her loathsome fiancé….
After much sweating, forced smiles, and repeated refrains of, “NO, I really don’t hear that stupid beat you are clapping for me,” the lesson finally skidded off the runway and came to a finish.
I smiled, thanked the skinny instructor for his patience, watched Tricia and Lawrence gaze into each other’s eyes and lightheartedly, playfully glide out of the dance studio.
My birthday bride thanked me for loving her enough to endure the lesson with an obligatory smile on my face. I kissed her and we left the studio hand in hand…my family teasing me that I should audition for Dancing With The Stars.
It is my experience in talking with people that sometimes they feel like they JUST DON’T GET IT…they hear instructions from our Master Dance Instructor, Jesus Christ, and yet they can’t seem to get their “spiritual dance” down quite right! “I can’t hear the beat…what’s wrong with me?”
They watch the super saints “dancing” and they feel like a spiritual idiot with two left feet. They signed up for the class, but many months or even years later, feel that they are not really a part of the “contest” much less ready for God’s “Dancing With The Stars.” They think, That must be for those really HARD CORE God-seekers, not for Joe Average like myself…”
My point? God cares even when we continuously don’t get it or screw up. He wants you to keep on seeking Him. He is so happy you are on the journey. Ask hard questions. None of us have it all together. Keep going, Keep dancing.