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Monday, December 3, 2012

Overcoming Through Dance

Recently I was the guest on a blog that was all about overcoming. Ultimately, we overcome through God. But along the way, there are many methods for overcoming adversity in life. One way that has meant so much to me has been dance. Dance is often seen as a metaphor for life: for the willingness to step beyond yourself, to embrace the wonder about you, to move in harmony with the universe. As joy and celebration build within, they require an outlet. And so, our hands and feet begin to move, our bodies begin to sing and flow, releasing emotions from our hearts and culminating in dance. Even releasing the heavenlies deep within through our fingertips and toes.

But what if you don’t feel that joy? What if life has beaten you down? Dance is at its core, a form of communication. You can dance your pain, your prayer, and as the music begins to overtake you, you begin to find that joy. Or you can employee the regular old, boogie-on-down kind of dancing to help you dance your blues away.

Exercise itself is a great way to chase away depression. When I’m feeling down, if I turn on a dance workout video and shake and shimmy along with the instructor, before long it’s hard to keep a smile my your face. Oxygen and endorphins alone will do that to a person, but add in some happy music and joyous expression, and you’ll have a hard time holding onto your doldrums.

Now what if we top that off with some praise and worship? Wow! Anytime we offer our praise and worship as an offering, the joy is sure to come. David danced before the Lord with all his might, and God was well pleased. Even Jesus spoke of his frustration with the generation around him by saying in Matthew 11, "We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not mourn.” Yet how often do we stifle this wondrous outlet?

Most churches today that incorporate contemporary choruses sing songs about dance. “Dance with me, oh lover of my soul.” "Dancers who dance upon injustice.” “We will dance on the streets that are golden.” “Dancing with my Father God in fields of grace.” The list goes on and on, but do we take it seriously, or do we stand still and sing the words, hampering our bodies from becoming living, breathing expressions of praise. Romans 12:1 instructs, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship." Of course this scripture has many applications, but I like to take it quite literally.

In my new historical romance, Love in Three-Quarter Time, my heroine is a dancer. Dance is one of her few sources of joy in life. Yet because of wounds from her past, she represses her true passionate nature and restricts herself to formulaic ballet and polite ballroom dances. It isn’t until she lets herself dance wild and free before a bonfire that she finally feels the full love and acceptance of her creator. In a way, her story is mine as well. In dance, I’ve found both my true self and a way to truly connect to God.

So I urge you to offer up your bodies as living sacrifices of praise. Embrace and enjoy the wonder of dance. Take time to relate with God through this amazing form of expression today. Discover the joy and overcoming power available through dance.

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