When I was in 4th grade, I took dance lessons. Tap and Jazz to be exact. Kristi Stuckey’s mom would pick us up each week and drive us to the next town over to eat at Arby’s and then head to the studio where we would spend the next 2 hours highlighting my inability to keep a beat. I received extra support. I had to be tutored. For my extracurricular activity.
I only performed half of my songs during the recital, because I had a costume malfunction on stage. Bless my parents’ hearts for sitting through that 4-hour production. I danced for about 45 seconds of it. They didn’t sign me up the following year. And I didn’t ask.
When I was 21, I had an unhealthy obsession with fame. My life-long bestie, Erin, and I drove to Hollywood in an attempt to meet some famous people and we happened upon the Tonight Show, where we attended a taping. You may not know this if you don’t have these same connections that I have, but before they begin filming they attempt to ‘warm up the crowd’. They asked for volunteers. We were selected. As we headed down to the stage, my mind flooded with possibility. Would we play a game, be interviewed, be given a car?? It was Hollywood, for crying out loud.
But not Oprah.
They wanted us to have a dance off. On stage. In front of the entire crowd. Please try to harness the level of discomfort you feel for me right now and multiply it times a billion. That’s how it was. (Side note: Erin started dancing at age 2. AND she had natural talent to match her seasoned expertise. Plus she’s just all around cooler than I am.) I was in 4th grade again, in front of a much less forgiving crowd. I was actually booed. People do that.
Last summer I went to Jamaica. And if had any shred of dignity left, it was stripped of me when I was instructed to lead the clapping name game entitled “To the Rhythm”. You guys. My Jamaican co-leaders were so annoyed with me. And rightfully so. I couldn’t make my hands and my voice match the rhythm. And they tried desperately to help me. They even held my hands and clapped them together for me a few times. Eventually, they let me assume ‘other responsibilities’. Bless.
So. Just about everyone in the world knows I can’t dance.
Except my children.
I had a frustrating day. I woke up late and, after promising the boys I’d take them to the book fair, realized half way to school that I’d forgotten my pocketbook. ‘Maybe I’ll come at lunch,’ I told them. After dropping them off I realized I needed gas. So I pulled off the interstate, which takes about 10 minutes, and pulled up to the pump. When I realized for a second time, that I REALLY DIDN’T BRING MY PURSE. So, again, I tried to begin my day…but in my frustration, which is somehow born in pride of keeping it all together, turned the wrong way on back on the interstate. UGH. Then my meeting ran long, and I didn’t get to the school at lunch. (THEY EAT AT 10 SOMETHING – WHY???). So on and on my day went until I got home, where my children so warmly received me, despite my failures at getting to the book fair at all. Michael took them instead, and all was well. And they were thrilled with their books.
So thrilled, in fact, they wanted to have a dance party.
And this is something we do. And it is exactly how you would picture us looking based on the aforementioned description. Like a Seinfeld episode, but with 5 Quakers. Ridiculous.
And their are no 4th graders.
No dance instructors.
And no Kevin Eubanks.
My children love to dance. And they love to dance with me. And so they do and I do too, and laughter makes the humiliation bearable; it is ridiculous and freeing all at the same time. We dance like David did, with all our might (2 Sam. 6:14)…with pure joy in the Lord. It is uninhibited. Undignified. Wonderfully humiliating. Pride is not compatible with the Coats family dance party, which makes it all the more necessary for me to participate.
God hates pride (Proverbs 6). And I can’t think of a better way to practice the removal of it than to dance it right out of me.