I've never been a very good follower. David (the hubs) discovered this early in our relationship at the first wedding we attended together as a couple. He was a little flustered at my inability to follow his movements, and I responded with a "well I can't read your mind!" Our dancing has gotten better, though I still try conspicuously hard to imitate his movements so he doesn't notice my resistance.
I blame it mostly on my childhood, as we all tend to do with perceived faults. I am one of six kids, five of whom are girls, and I sit at spot #5. By the time I was really any fun to hang out with, my brother (the oldest) already had a job and I don't believe it was too long after he turned 18 that he was off to his own apartment, working brilliantly at a small computer business where his adept technical skills were first put to good use.
So the five of us girls spent a lot of time together and inevitably there were many at-home dance parties that ensued. Being short on men as we were, the teenage lot of us partnered up as we wished and alternated taking the lead, though I seem to remember doing it quite often. A few years later I attended some informal dance lessons to prepare for a high school formal (yep, homeschooled) and tried to undo all the leading I had done with my sisters for years.
This whole not-following-well tendency has sprouted up in things other than my dance moves, as I find myself all too often questioning where I am in life, whether I'm doing the absolute best thing, wondering what magical gifts I am destined to share with the world and deeply underestimating God's ability to place me where I need to be.
My sophomore year of college I grew tired of the freshman 15 I had gained and decided to torture myself by running. I actually grew to rather enjoy it, despite the belly cramps and lack of scenery on the long, flat Illinois road surrounded by cornfields that christened my running. Running served its purpose very well, but I certainly am not built for it, as my hips are wider than any other part of me and are therefore not particularly aerodynamic.
I've continued this type of exercise suffering off and on since then and in the last couple years have found that God often speaks to me when I'm running, many times through the music I listen to. And no, my Pandora station is not always on the "Waterdeep Worship Radio."
Tonight a song came on that He has used before and it pulled at my heart the same way it has at different times in the last year or so. You may not think Walk the Moon's "Shut Up and Dance" would be a likely vessel of God's voice, but it has been for me several times and it was again tonight.
Now, knowing what God knows about me, his voice in this song is usually the girl's. "Oh don't you dare look back, just keep your eyes on me," she says. And the artist responds to her, "you're holding back." How often I feel this way toward God. You are holding out on me. It's not that You're not good, or mighty or loving - but You are holding out on me. There's something You're keeping from me, not showing me, not giving me - something you won't let me have. Maybe I'm not good enough, or I haven't learned enough, or I'm not as malleable as I should be, but you're holding out.
But to that the girl responds "shut up and dance with me." As someone who gets really distracted with the future I tend to focus on the hows and the whens and the whats next, and sometimes I feel like God says to me, "Hannah, just shut up, and dance with me." Quit being so distrustful, quit your mind games, and just dance right here, with me, right now, as you are and as I Am.
Alongside the obvious pain of dragging myself through a run along the streets and sidewalks of downtown, apart from skydiving running is the closest I get to feeling like I can fly. When your breath, your chest, your legs get heavy but you find you have strength to go farther - that is flying. When your side cramps and the hill approaches and you breathe your way through it - that is flying. And in the middle of this activity, He chooses to speak? When I'm cursing my hips and glancing down at the slight belly pudge refusing to lie flush with my running shorts - this is when he sidles up next to me and says "dance with me?"
In the strength-sucking movement of running, when I am most fully aware of how much I am weak and pathetic, he asks me to stay in that motion. "Will you keep running? Not just now, but tonight, tomorrow morning, during work? Will you do this something with me so I can do this something in you? Will you stay in the lowlands where you can hear my voice instead of scaling the mountain alone? Will you stay next to Me. Will you give up this (plan, dream, passion, desire) to just be next to Me." And it may not be forever that we lay it down, but many times it's a lot longer than we would like. Relationships require love and sacrifice from both people.
Yet He knows me. He beckons me, invites me. He is that crazy, wily redhead on the dance floor that you can't help but come back to. "I'm here. I hear you. But shut up and dance with me."
He asks us to dance. Will we tango?