Learning to Dance with Abandon

I never learned how to dance.

Aside from a single ballet lesson when I was little, and a kindly retired neighbor who showed me how to box step to Anne Murray after dinner at our house one night, I’ve had precious little experience in that arena.

To me it seems that all the music and cadence in my body is happily located in my ears and vocal chords, and in my fingers when they’re poised over piano keys. I would rather play a part of a song than move artfully to it, but that hasn’t stopped others from doing their share of coaxing.

Once, at a college retreat, two of my first-year Bible study girls threaded their way through the crowd as the worship music began, loud and jubilant. They wanted to dance and jump to its rhythm, and sing at the top of their lungs — and they wanted me to join them in it.

So I did.

From my first to fourth years as an undergraduate, my carefully buttoned-up heart thawed this way by quick degrees as I spent more time with God and in the community of His people. As I felt the self-consciousness fall away, I understood better and better how King David could have danced with so much abandon that he scandalized his more “dignified” wife.

And David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn.

As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart.

– 2 Sam. 6:14-16, ESV

Some joys are too great for propriety.

Motherhood has furthered my great thaw. I am a woman tinged with less dignity and more abandon these days, owing to the two little faces who constantly pluck me beyond my awareness of myself. Around them I am sillier than I ever dreamed I would be in my foolish youth, and am now “old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”*

So I’ve found that life, like dancing, becomes beautiful and full of grace in all forms when I’m not focused on my own feet as they shuffle along.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,” begins the Bible verse we prayed when we dedicated our children (Heb. 12:1-2). This overly punctilious introvert has never done this perfectly. But every time that I have kept to His words more closely than my own burdensome thoughts and introspection — what release!

I’ve tasted freedom then, like hearing music from a far country so rich and irresistible that fear and self-consciousness fall like old shoes to the side of a wild dance.


I watch delight glow in the eyes of my firstborn as she balances on the curb of a plant bed at the outdoor shopping mall. A song plays over the speakers nestled in the mulch. “This is such pretty music, Mommy!”

I nod, smiling, and I take the little hand she extends to me.

We waltz together in the violet light of the summer evening, between the storefronts and parking spaces, spiraling the moment into my memory. I’ve been invited into a child’s liberating wonder, and in the joy that lingers on her upturned face, I glimpse something of how mine must look when I am keeping in step with my Savior.

How astonishingly His love moves us.



*see C.S. Lewis’ dedication to Lucy Barfield in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

This post is part of a 31 day series about Loving God as an Introvert

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