“It’s going to take a little time to learn it, but you’ll get it. You’ve not had dance lessons before, so you don’t have the muscle memory yet,” my friend (who is also teaching me Irish dancing) encouraged me.
I certainly am not the best dancer in the class, but at least I know there isn’t judgment there. I am taking the class to challenge myself, to stretch a little outside my comfort zone. Okay, maybe way outside my comfort zone.
I am used to being able to learn things quickly, but hopping up and down on tiptoe while doing a variety of kicks and toe movements, all in sequence to peppy Irish music…well, let’s just say I’m picking this up very, very slowly. I’m certainly not keeping up with the music at this point, but it feels good when I at least manage to copy the movements.
I decided a couple of years ago that maybe my muscles are a little bit too used to doing life like I had been doing it. I had started to close myself off due to fear, particularly fear of failure and of being judged and rejected by other people. I am a Christian, and because of that, I don’t believe fear is the way I should live: “ For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). Irish dancing (and a whole lot of other things I’ve tried, lately) are part of a personal decision to confront those fears and open myself up to the adventure of discovery in God’s beautiful world.
But I should really put that verse back in its proper context. It was not originally written as empowerment to learn a jig or write a book. It was addressed to Christians living with fear when sharing their faith publicly to a world that truly hated them and persecuted them.
Fear is a serious opponent, even in today’s world. The news is full of fear. Sometimes even the workplace is full of fearful news and a barrage of reasons not to live out our faith publicly–and this is the West. Being a Christian in the eastern world is far more dire.
All the more reason to keep practicing until our faith gets stronger. We need the “muscle memory” that helps us see the current, active presence of God in our lives, where we work, and where we live. We should learn to see the patterns in world news that God predicted in His Word, and learn the contents of the Bible so well that we can call it to mind at will when we are under attack.
This isn’t muscle we can build overnight, but we’ll always struggle at mastery if we don’t keep practicing.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up,” (Galatians 6: 7 NIV).