Saturday, September 15, 2012

Boot, Scoot and Boogie: The Truth of Line Dancing

Line Dancing is a sign that I am loved by God.  There, I said it.

I have made comments before that if I could be buried underneath a dance floor of a line dancing bar, I would be happy for eternal rest.

I love line dancing.  I love doing it.  I love watching it.  I love the anticipation that rises in my heart before I walk on the floor.  I LOVE IT!

For those unfamiliar with the line dancing culture, basically, a DJ plays a song of the country variety and there is a preset, choreographed dance to it.  You walk out, and bust a move with your feet! Usually a series of steps in 8-count that simply repeat, over and over again.  Once you can see and dance the pattern, you are set for the rest of the dance! 

My line dancing history started in my college town of Evansville, IN where a group of friends went every week to the Brand 'N Iron, about as nice of a place as it sounds.  You didn't have to be 21 to go there and it was cheap, so in those days, it was perfect.  I learned all the "moves" there from very patient friends who taught me, step by step, at least 20 dances.  (I've actually never counted them up before, but I bet that's true.)

What's to Be Learned from This Cultural Event?

Lesson One: Risk
If you've never seen a line dancing bar in it's prime (not a night when there's a popular concert, but legit-hard-core line dancers), it can be a little intimidating.  You'll see couples in matching cowboy/cowgirl outfits. Masses of people dancing in unison to songs you've never heard of.  My dear high school friend put it one time, "It looks like we just walked into a musical and everyone suddenly knew what they were doing!"  When a friend who is new to line dancing steps out on the floor, I'm instantly proud.  That's half the battle and a huge risk to potentially make a total fool out of yourself.

Life is full of times when we are asked to risk our pride, our preconceptions and even face our fears.

Lesson Two: Steadfastness 

I wouldn't consider line dancing easy.  It can be frustrating when you don't see the patterns or when your feet won't do what your brain is thinking.  It's REALLY annoying when it seems like everyone on the dance floor gets it except you. However, your odds of understanding the dances increases when someone is right next to you, telling you the moves.  Over and over and over again.

There are SO MANY times in life when I just don't get it.  My only hope is that one day I will, and I stay close to the people who have the answers and the glimpse that I don't have.

Lesson Three: Obedience
(If you don't listen to said person next to you, or at least look at their feet, you'll probably fail.)

Doing something on my own without any authority feels awesome for the first millisecond that I might succeed.  Then, I look around and no one was there to share the moment with.  More often, I don't succeed on my own and I'm left alone with my helplessness.  Life is always better lived with another.

Lesson Four: Fulfillment When Working on a Common Task
Okay, so finally understanding and executing a line dance might not save the world.  But it DOES look pretty freaking cool and to be a PART of it is incredible.

Somewhere, ingrained in our natures, is the desire to do a common task with those around us--to be a part of something beautiful in a work that is edifying.  We have to follow the steps to make this happen, face our limits, and work in steadfastness, but a unity and harmony eventually comes through.

Lesson Five: Mission: The Power of Invitation

I've invited WAY more people to line dancing than I've ever invited to any kind of Church event.  First, the risk is less in my mind, because it isn't as important to me whether they like it or not.  And if you've been my friend for very long, chances are you've joined me in this adventure at least once.

But, I think my desire to invite my friends to something that I find beautiful is why we evangelize about Christ in the first place.  Sometimes, I might not fully understand this "Jesus" that I'm following, and therefore, am not as forthright in my invitations as with other things.  But for things we understand and love, inviting isn't hard.

Bottom Line:  We have a loving, merciful God who promises unity, harmony, and meaning to our work each and every day. He gives us so many people to walk that journey with us and when we are in love, we invite our friends to meet Him who we love. I pray that we are all given the eyes to see through little signs as banal as line dancing to remind us of our deeper purpose.

On a final note, yee haw, y'all.  See you on the dance floor.



Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Jealously Loved...A Humble Correction

Next to my computer at school, scattered through my apartment and even on my phone are lists of blog topics that I've had inspiration for writing.

My summer was more packed with events that many people might accomplish in two years.  I'm so thankful for the summer breaks I have to share with family and friends...and SHARE IT I DID!

Between taking Grandma to Edinburgh, rocking out at my friends' first paying band gig, falling in love again with CL and the Rocky Mountains, and babysitting my amazing niece, I had PLENTY to be thankful for and witness God's mercy/charity towards me.

Behind all these things, all the time, was a nagging voice, "It's not enough, Erica.  None of this is enough." And I wanted more and more and more.  More beautiful nights singing with my friends.  More lunches with friends I haven't talked to in ages.  More Zumba classes at St. John's!  But is that really what I want more of?  My summer could have lasted three more months with more trips out of town and more vacation, but would that have satiated my thirst?

Thus, my absence from this blog.  I can't pinpoint what in the hell my life is missing.  After five/six novenas, and people on the Camino praying for my vocation (thanks to all of you, btw), I still have this inclination/desire to be great, to be full, to point others to universal truths in their lives, to love without measure, etc. And I fall into the temptation of thinking that a big answer to my lifelong vocation is going to bring all of this to me! A restlessness totally exists within me, and it's uncomfortable.

This sounds dumb to me, but I couldn't even admit this restlessness in a blog post.  God forbid I let some kind of uncertainty show when I'm supposed to be "taking care of my heart."

We're educated by Fr. Giussani (founder of the Communion and Liberation movement) over and over again that this restlessness and tension exists in our hearts PRECISELY because it is there where we can reach out to God and know His saving Love.

My "mission" two years ago for this blog was to celebrate how God saves EVERY circumstance...to celebrate the surprises in my life when my heart just vibrates with the beauty He gives and when He fills life with meaning in an unexpected way.

My original blog title, "Taking Care of the Heart" in what I've learned over the summer.  My heart is more needy than I can ever wrap my head around.  It needs more love than 1,000 well-intentioned boyfriends could ever provide, and I SUCK at taking care of it.  I lack will power, energy, and courage to stand in front of this needy heart and fall all the time to stupid habits, gossip, and mediocrity that displays a paler "me" than my Creator originally designed.

And so, here I am.  With a new blog title and one that I've learned fits more with my life.  "Jealously Loved." Because without a doubt, I am jealously loved by Him.  Circumstances reveal to me that boys I love, Zumba classes I lead, and praise I get from my students' parents are NOT the answer to my heart's needs.  And so, here I am, Lord.  Needy. Once again begging you to show me the way.