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Just Dance

25 Jun
I love to dance.  I’m 30 years old, and STILL dance around my room with my headphones on to drown everything out.  I have visions of myself dancing skillfully in a modern/ballet style, bringing emotions to the surface of those watching as I communicate to them stories and emotions that stir up their souls.  While this may never actually happen, I don’t have to forgo the sweet freedom that is dance.  When I dance – letting go of thoughts, feeling and moving with the music – there is no feeling that comes close to that.  I feel like my spirit inside is moving right along with my body outside.  I can’t describe it better, I just feel completely united with my soul.  Granted, this is probably not the case for everyone, but do you know if it is for you?  Our bodies are gifts given to us for the time while we’re on this earth and they are strong and capable; they were created to move!
I was recently reading about Miriam, older sister of Moses, in a devotional and was really struck by the authors’ words on dancing.  With regard to the Bible, most of us probably don’t think of dancing.  It seems uncharacteristic.  Maybe a little risque.  The passage below, however, tells us that dancing is not a bad thing, it’s a way to celebrate and express emotions, to give glory to our Creator.
“In biblical times, people danced to celebrate happy events and to praise God. Dancing in Scripture is always linked to joy and happiness.  The presence of mourning means the absence of dancing (Lamentations 5:15), and there is a time for both (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
The very first mention of dancing in Scripture is when Miriam led the Isrealite women in a dance that celebrated God’s miraculous defeat of the Egyptians at the Red Sea.  Imagine, if you can, the emotions of these women as they walked (perhaps ran?) between the walls of water of the Red Sea, Egyptian chariots right behind them.  Fearful for their lives, they breathlessly reached the eastern shore, turning around to see the waters come crashing in to drown the Egyptians and their horses – a narrow, frightening escape.
Then, quickly, fear gave way to a thrill of excitement.  They were FREE!  When Miriam went by with a tambourine, singing a song of praise to God, the women’s feet moved to her rhythm, their voices joined her song, and they danced!
The Hebrews danced in worship, often in praise of God for his deliverance from enemies (1 Samuel 18:6, Psalm 149:3).  They danced to celebrate happy events, like weddings and the return of loved ones (Luke 15:25).  Hebrew men and women didn’t dance together.  The men usually danced alone, as David did before the Ark [of the Covenant] (2 Samuel 6:14), while women danced together.
There is some evidence that dancing was a part of the worship of the early Christian church.  But according to several early Christian writers, it soon degenerated and no longer expressed a pure praise of the Lord.  Before long it was banned.
Just as Miriam and the women couldn’t help but dance with joy, so when God does a wonderful work in our lives we sometimes respond in much the same manner: our faces break into smiles, our hands are lifted up, and our feet can’t remain still!  Certainly the God who created the human body delights in the pure use of that beautiful instrument to offer praise to him.”
Dancing has taken a lot of heat in past decades, even centuries, as something that compels us towards lusty behavior.  For this reason, lots of us don’t participate.  Or maybe we are nervous that we’ll look silly or fall over or step on someone.  I would challenge you to find a deeper reason to dance.  Dance to celebrate, to express gratitude, to praise your Maker.  If it’s not dance, find the mode of expression that ignites your spirit in a way that you can’t help but do something about!
If you are local in the Seattle area, you should check out my good friend Whitney’s women-only, community dance class Surrender Dance.  It’s donation-based, all levels and LOTS of fun 🙂

Inspirational Afternoons

28 Mar

Its that email full of criticism and harsh words.  Or that snappy remark from a friend in passing.  The attitude from your cashier at the grocery store.  Those little moments that get right under your skin and heat your blood to boiling.  What happens next?  Personally, I seek control and comfort, and my favorite place to find that comfort is in food.  Not chicken breast and steamed broccoli food, like Oreos and tortilla chips food.  Sound familiar?  And then its a downward spiral of guilt and upset tummies, which produces more guilt, and the soft tummy and thighs that make you angry at the chips and Oreos.  Until the next time it happens.  To talk about it in this manner, it sounds ridiculous.  I want to go back in time and shake myself and say “STOP IT!!!”  But I can’t.  Because really, it’s about more than behavior modification.

Why is it that we turn to food for comfort?  And why isn’t “comfort food” healthy?  WHO do you know that when they’re super stressed or bummed out goes and has a nice salad with dressing on the side and some grilled chicken?  Nope, nobody.  I think we know what is right and wrong, we know what will make us gain weight or lose it.  And in those moments when we cannot control our situation or our best friends’ behavior or our barista’s nasty attitude, we tend to pacify ourselves with something forbidden.  Like a treat for surviving.  Except is it really a treat when it happens daily?  More than daily?

What if, instead of trying to swap celery sticks for cheetos and convince your tongue it’s the same, we dug a little deeper and considered in those moments taking a pause.  Heck, take a walk if it gets you away from a bad food choice!  But in your pause, reflect on what is going on.  Acknowledge that, yeah, this sucks!  And there might not be anything you can do about it, but hurting yourself (by way of unhealthy food in excess when you’re not hungry), is not the way to fix anything.  So take some deep breaths, take a walk, call a friend who knows you and how to ‘talk you down’ per say.

Or.  What if you go back to that moment with that person that set you off?  What  do you think was going on in their day/life/etc that made them dump on you?  Is it possible that we’re all just messy people and sometimes that mess spills out on others around us?  So if someone’s mess causes your life to get messier, nobody wins.  If you can settle your pride and turn away from the comfort food, you win.  But if you went back to that person and showed them a loving gesture or asked how they were doing and maybe let them unload some of their mess, you both win.  Now, I know that is WAY easier written than done.  Our pride and sense of self-worth and justice-seeking are FIERCE opponents.  But if we think about it, these happen all the time.  In these little battles we have the opportunities to fight for or against the pain.  For or against unhealthy habits.  For or against isolation.  So even if you try and fail, or fail to try; keep trying, if your heart is in the right place, you’ll make a difference.