I am re-reading Dancing With My Father by Sally Clarkson this month and next with an online group of women. It’s always eye opening to look at notes and underlined text from two years ago; to see what has stayed the same and what has actually changed! We are in chapter 5 today, and it stuns me to realize there has been “progress” made in my view of God and how He views me and my life. Yet, it shocks just the same when I read words that still describe my view of Father.
How frustrating it must be to God to know that we sometimes picture him as a grumpy old man only interested in our perfect behavior, ready at any moment to spoil our fun and to slap us with harsh discipline the moment we fail, and who wants us always to be quiet and well-behaved.
I don’t know how long it has been since I just enjoyed a gathering, be it a small group or large, without riding home scrutinizing every action, thought, and word that I had. Did I say too much here, not enough there, the wrong thing at this time? Were my actions completely foolish, offensive, sinful? Such internal interrogation can leave me seeking the comfort of solitude because if I’m just “me and God” how can unholiness ruin me?
But, I have known dancing.
I am convinced that God meant for us to regularly experience pleasure and delight, laughter, and pure, unadulterated joy.
Beside these words, in the margin of my book, I wrote this: How I am with Hannah.
Hannah, the friend who shouldn’t have been but always was. She was that girl my age who actually knew conviction and loved the God Who allowed it. She had a deep worship of her Savior that planted seeds within me. We have survived middle school, high school, parents, girl-drama, boyfriends, distance, marriage, and different paths of life. It’s what happens when your relationship is built on the Cornerstone of Christ – no matter where life takes you, it will not crumble because the Foundation is the One Who is Strength.
Hannah has always had a lightness, a joy, a humor about her. Everyone loved her because who doesn’t love a reprieve from the harshness of this world. In her smile, her rosy cheeks, her crazy hair that still looked good no matter what, and willingness to just laugh. To just laugh. I don’t just laugh. I have to turn on comedy to do it. It’s as if I have this defective piece in me that doesn’t work unless manually caused to. When I’m with Hannah, though, it’s like the “piece” just wakens up. Around her I seem to know child-like joy naturally. I relax, I smile, I laugh. Not just smirk or giggle – I laugh hard and long and good! It’s this euphoric state that I want every day of my life, but it’s like I forget how to dance like that when we’re apart. Maybe it’s that I don’t trust myself with such freedom.
You see, far too often my words cut with sarcasm instead of engage in just pure fun. I find I’m normally nervous instead of relaxed. I am too consumed with figuring out what I’m going to say and what I’m not, that I don’t even know how to speak! I see in me a neediness that repels the company of others instead of a contentedness that draws. How do you take an awkward stumbler and turn her into an independent dancer?
But in order for these to be an integral part of a very real relationship with him, we need to find him in beauty and pleasure in the minute places and details of our lives.
I can’t say I have figured out much. I don’t know that my dance looks much better than it did two years ago. I still stumble more than I glide, but I do know one thing – I finally made the choice to dance. There are so many things I don’t know if I can do because I was never brave enough to try them. If it didn’t come easy I quickly moved on, not wanting the embarrassment to wound me. They say you begin to feel more comfortable in your own skin as you get older…maybe. I hope! Right now I can say I find more comfort in my hand holding His. It’s He who never jeers at my mistakes or taunts His abilities over mine. Instead He takes me where I’m at and as a Father with His little girl, says, “Put your feet on mine.” Though I wobble and sometimes fall off, He is always there, waiting for me to stand back up.
Something, it seems, Hannah has a grip on is how God does love her. He isn’t standing with a check-mark list, tallying the negatives against the positives. He really did make us for His pleasure, and she knows it. Hannah enjoys life, not because it is all easy (we’ve had too many phone conversations for me to believe that), but because He is all good. Hannah looks for no other reason to smile, laugh, dance than that of the goodness – the nearness – of her Savior.
It is overwhelming to think that it wasn’t just with this book or Ann’s book that God had been wooing me to a life of dance, joy, and thankfulness; it was with the very life that led me to Life in Him. From the moment He gave me Hannah, God has been saying, “Dance, my Child.” I tremble with the mere thought of this Grace – this Love. I want such supernatural joy to become my new natural. I want His nearness to truly be my good! I want to just laugh.
Hannah means “grace.” And I, I want to be found not watching from the side, but dancing with Grace.