Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's NOT a Dirty Word.

I found myself in this unusual place again today. That's been happening more and more lately, I'm not sure what to think about it. I know I have choices about wherever I go, but I also know there is always this bigger picture about how doors of opportunity come to me. But that's not really what this blog is about, perhaps another day.

I did, however, see something today because of where I was and it gave me stop to ponder.

I was watching this man and woman dance. There was loud music playing and it was this very festive atmosphere and the woman walked up to where the man was and suddenly he grabbed her by the hand and started to dance with her. They weren't a couple, just friends, but it was clear he was a good dancer.

He grabbed her by the hand and started to lead her across the floor. He took her and spun her under his arm and pushed her out from him, then pulled her back in. There were moments where it was absolutely beautiful, but there were lots of moments where it was really clumsy and awkward.

The difference in the moments were glaringly obvious. It was all about her willingness to allow him to lead. When she would relax and just follow his bidding, it was graceful, joyous even. It was enticing to watch, it made you want to be a part of it. You couldn't take your eyes off of it. Even if he seemed to make a misstep, if she let him lead, they never lost their rhythm.

Then there were moments where it seemed like she was questioning what he was trying to do and her resistance would rise, instead of relaxing and following she would tense up her arms, stop moving her feet and try to take back control. It would almost look like a hand to hand battle. It changed the entire dance, everything became strained and awkward. It rang of the worst of the displays on Dancing with the Stars. Watching you would half turn away and watch only from a side glance and cringe in anticipation of the stumble, you could see it coming.

It took me immediately to a deeper thought. At the time it made me think of just being married. As a Christian woman there is this word that I have heard over and over again, submission. I've also seen lots and lots of other women, both Christian and non take incredible offense to the word. I think it stirs some fear from deep within that "submitting" is the equivalent of devaluing oneself. Since the days of Gloria Steinem "submission" has become a dirty word.

So herein lies the rub... submission is undoubtedly a command of the Lord.

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." Ephesians 5:22-24


"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord." Colossians 3:18

So here's the thing I noticed as I was watching the dance, when they were dancing together, and she allowed him to lead, it was her that my eyes were drawn to. She was the one who looked so beautiful and joyous.

Later when I saw them dancing separately on the dance floor, I wasn't struck by any exceptional dancing talent. It was only when they danced together, he the clearly stronger dancer, that they both looked their best. When she danced and let him lead, there was a freedom that I saw in the dance, and in her eyes. It was beautiful.

It made me think. I never feel better about my marriage and my family than I do when Neal is clearly leading. When he leads our home and family, I feel safe, I feel confident, I feel joy. When I let him lead in our dance of life, I feel freedom and peace. Even if he takes steps different than I think he should, if I trust him and let him lead, it comes together, but when I fight and resist him, that's when we stumble and falter.

The thought occurred to me, what if I was watching another pair dance, not a couple of people who had never really danced together before, but a pair who were partners for a long time. It makes me think of like ice skating partners, or famous dancing duos like "Fred and Ginger," the longer they dance together, the better he becomes at leading, and the better she at following, so much so to the point you can hardly tell the two roles apart, they can seemingly anticipate one another and move to the same rhythms so well, that you almost never see a stumble apart from outside disruption, like a crack in the floor or a broken heel.

I thought to myself, isn't that God's plan for marriage? Isn't that the beauty of submission? I think it is.

I can hear the muttering and groaning already... "yes, but when my husband doesn't this, or my husband doesn't that... then do I still have to submit?"

You know, I think we as women spend far too much time wondering and worrying about what he should do instead of just focusing on our own steps. Like I said, even when he wasn't dancing perfectly, if she just let him lead, they never lost their rhythm.

In the "dance" of life, we will all find our perfect rhythm, if only we will allow the Lord to lead us. He after all is the Designer of the dance. He knows every step, and has created the rhythm. When we learn to submit to His leading and direction, we find freedom, and in that freedom, we find strength and peace. For the husbands, submitting to the Lord is how he learns to lead, by the example set for him. As a wife, I learn the joy of submission, the freedom in giving up the control by trusting first in the Lord, and then learning to put that same trust in my husband. And when each of us, our lessons better learned, comes together, our dance is beautiful, you can hardly take your eyes off of it.

Although I cannot for the life of me get my husband out on a literal dance floor to lead me, I am grateful the he is the partner the Lord has chosen to lead me through the dance of a lifetime. Anyone who knows me knows I am a strong minded and a strong willed woman, and yet I find comfort and peace in knowing the roles both Neal and I have been given by God in our marriage. It is for Neal to lead, and for me to follow, not silently or foolishly, but with mutual respect and love. We have not perfected the dance, but our Instructor continues to grow us both and when we stumble, we stumble together, but when we move to one rhythm, it is beautiful and brings glory to our God.

Even the simplest of dances can be beautiful when each partner knows his and her part. The Musician plays the music, a partner to lead, a partner to follow, the song made more beautiful by the display, the partnership strengthened by the experience, a beauty to behold, a privilege to participate.


jennifer said...

Good words, Diana! Definitely an inspired post. Art and I have been dancing through marriage for 40 years this year...I could so relate to the times of stumbling when I wanted to fight his leading, versus trusting God's best plan to follow his lead, even when I sometimes don't understand! Oh, the adventures we get to share when we dance in unity! Thanks for sharing the truths He reveals to you! I always get blessed!

Janet said...

Ah, its so true. Written from a pretty controlling person! It reaps its rewards in so many shapes and forms.

Jenni said...

Just a lurker here, but I wanted to say that this is a wonderful metaphor, and I will be contemplating it for a long time!!

Thank you for the encouragement.