Ever since I was a child, I believed I possessed an inner tap dancer, this idea no doubt influenced by old black and white movies featuring the tap-dancing Shirley Temple. That inner tap dancer would turn loose whenever I was wearing my black patent leather Sunday shoes with a tile floor beneath my feet and no judgmental witnesses in sight. Now, I experience the urge to perform fancy footwork every time I put on ankle boots.
Not long after my first ankle boot purchase, I found myself enthralled while watching a YouTube video of river dancers who surprised shoppers in a mall in Ireland. That’s when it hit me. As I watched their feet, I realized I had been river dancing all along. Admittedly, what I had been calling tap dancing involved too much stomping.
Did you know that dancing is addressed favorably in the Bible? According to Ecclesiastes 3:4, there’s “a time to dance.” David demonstrated such a time when he was bringing the “ark of the Lord” to Jerusalem, and he was “dancing before the Lord with all his might…leaping and dancing before the Lord” (2 Samuel 6:14, 16). In Psalm 30, which is a song for the dedication of the temple, as David recalls God’s deliverance, he proclaims, “You turned my wailing into dancing” (vs. 11).
I believe David could be considered the original Lord of the Dance. (I mean no disrespect to Michael Flatley.) Keep in mind, David was called “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). His dancing was a form of praise and sheer joy in the Lord.
I can remember times when I’ve burst into a happy dance in response to a huge blessing, such as a phone call offering me the teaching job I’d been praying for. My joy gushed out through my feet, and I couldn’t have stopped it if I’d tried. Those were hallelujah moments for sure.
My new fascination with river dancing compelled me to learn some legitimate river dance steps, so I returned to YouTube for help. I found a video of a man demonstrating a simple sequence that can be repeated. I watched this video numerous times, studying his feet while listening to him count.
“Hop, 1, 2, 3, right, 1, 2, 3, left, 1, 2, 3…” When I attempted to duplicate the steps, I realized I was missing a transition, so I had to watch more times. I was ecstatic when I finally performed the steps correctly.
A few days after mastering basic river dancing steps, I experienced extra stress at work. When that stress followed me home and pestered me with irritation-inducing thoughts, I decided to river dance my cares away. After all, watch any river dance performance, and you’ll see sweating but smiling dancers at the end of it.
I began executing the steps on my kitchen floor. Even though I felt uncoordinated and awkward—I kicked myself a couple of times—I had a blast! I felt better afterwards for sure, that is until the pain set in.
The next morning when I rolled out of bed, a bolt of fire shot through the back of my right heel and up my calf. I’m not young anymore (except in my mind), so I know the importance of stretching to loosen up stiff muscles. I paid the price for not doing so for three days. I tried not to limp.
Once the pain was gone, I vowed to stretch before engaging in a river dancing stompfest in my kitchen again. My motivation? You will never see me on Tik Tok. No, I dance for an audience of one (actually two if you count my dog).
Like David, I’m grateful to God for many reasons, and sometimes that gratitude inspires me to kick up my heels and dance with joy. Other times, I choose to focus on my feet instead of my frets and fears to restore joy. As long as whatever I do, I “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31), He will be pleased.