February 26, 2005

Do you wanna dance?

I just got back from our annual church women’s retreat. Forty-five women laughing, crying, talking, singing, praying, eating, dancing. Our theme was Can I Have This Dance? We talked about joy…real joy…not fleeting happy feelings, but a deep rooted joy. Joy is more of a deep contentment that comes from trusting God through this existence that we call life.

As I was pondering the meaning of joy, I realized it was being played out right in front of my eyes. I looked at each woman there, those smiling, laughing, dancing women, and thought about the hard times they had each been through….past abuse, death of a child or husband, suicide in their immediate families, divorce, poverty, eating disorders, chronic illness, women who had survived cancer, strokes, heart surgeries and ill children, single moms, moms who were taking care of elderly moms, and some who made their own trouble through foolish decisions, which we all do, but some suffer the consequences far more greatly. I realized as I saw these women laughing, singing and dancing that they chose to trust God…they chose joy. It’s offered to each of us, but for some reason, some people do not choose to trust…they choose to be angry, to question ‘why me’, and usually they become very bitter, hard people. I have seen this too in some of the women I have known through our women’s ministry and I thought about them…why did they choose to go that way? Our retreat leader, Mary, illustrated this so well (and I'm all into word pictures, so I was all over this)….it's as if we have these beautiful dancing shoes in a lovely box up on our closet shelf but we never choose to join in the dance. We choose to remain clothed in our comfortable clod-hoppers. But once we give in and put those shoes on, believing there will be a beautiful dance, we are set free from the bitterness and regret. “You turned my wailing into dancing, you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” Psalm 30:11

I know some of my women friends here have struggled with putting those shoes on. They were in mourning or depression or self hatred or wrapped up in guilt or pain. To read that list of hard times they’ve been through one would think we are a very dysfunctional bunch, but when you open up your eyes, you start to realize that we all go through hard times….there is no shame in it, no reason to hide it. It helps to release it and share it…it encourages others to do the same and when we do, we help free each other. One of the things that helped me the most through my own hard times, is that I saw other people who had been through my particular situations and they made it through….and they still had joy and hope. And I remember even thanking some of those people who were vulnerable with me and shared that they too had traveled through where I was dwelling. It helped set me free.

So get that lovely box down off the closet shelf, put those shoes on, put your trust in Christ and accept his invitation to dance.

As a parting thought….did you know that God sings? I never read this verse before, but when I read it at the retreat, it made my joy swell to know what he sings about…..

“The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17

Now…..shall we dance?

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