I took a tango class a couple weeks ago for the first time since I’ve been here. It was something I had wanted to do for months. When people think of Argentina, they think about two things: steak and tango. And yeah, I’ve had a lot of steak since I’ve been here. I’m not the most coordinated dancer in the world, but I had a lot of fun pretending to be for the evening. Also, I got to wear my favorite pair of heels. It was a great time indulging my girliness. And working off all that steak.
In the tango, as in most partner dances, the male leads. Which . . . you guessed it, was a struggle for Kelsey. I wouldn’t say I have an authority problem per se, but well, I’m just a bit of a leader by nature. And yeah, I don’t like to be told what to do.
With tango in particular, you move all over the floor, most of the time in a pretty crowded little place. And as the follower, I was mostly being moved around in a backwards direction, hoping my partner didn’t have a personal vendetta against me and wanted to lead me right out of the room and down a flight of stairs.
That didn’t happen. And after the first few numbers, I loosened up and felt more inclined to trust my partner and figure out how to be a good follower. As I was learning to follow, I realized a few parallels with my walk with the Lord:
Following requires trust. Trust that he won’t throw me down a flight of stairs. Trust that he can see where I’m going, because I definitely can’t. And trust that he will pull me back if I get going in the wrong direction, gently correct an error on my part and set me back on course. God does that to me, even if my feet get all stomped on in the process.
Following is active, not passive. It does not simply mean limply falling at the slightest motion of the leader’s hand. I could let him throw me around, sure, but that would pretty much make him do all the work. And if I sway too much with a movement, I get caught up in my own momentum and I miss the next change of movement.
Instead, there is a certain effort at sensitivity involved. A willingness to go at the slightest impulse, but equally matched by a willingness to stop at the very next, should he say so. Following is active.
Both with God and with my dance partner, I usually start out in the right direction, and I get so accustomed to what I anticipate he will do that I plow full-speed-ahead by my own strength. Following falls apart when you try to anticipate what’s coming. I get cocky, think I know what’s going on, and before I know it, I’ve taken over. That’s not trust. That’s not active following.
I’ve heard life called a dance before, and I do think that the Tango paints a beautiful picture of the embrace our creator holds us in as he sweeps us along. We are not called to be helpless, limp ragdolls. We are made to be wise and skilled, precise and controlled, all the while holding fast to the arms that are holding onto us. And to grow accustomed to the feel of following that particular set of arms. (I started dancing with a friend and then ended up trading with instructors and various other students, so that’s really where this metaphor breaks down.)
And following our life’s leader, like in any dance, gets better with gentle correction and with practice. We may have to readjust to a new tempo or cadence as the seasons of life progress, but the leader helps us with that too. If you’re struggling where you are, don’t give up. Take a moment to pause, listen, and fall back into step.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.