by Julia Dillard
I went to a conference recently, and one of the speakers said something that really struck me. He said: “God doesn’t dance with mannequins.”
After this I didn’t hear a word he said; I was off pondering the depth of this simple yet profound truth, and all of its applications to my life. I saw almost all my prayers flash before my eyes: God, fix me. God, help me. God, heal me. And there’s nothing wrong with those prayers, except my posture at the time I prayed them. It was passive and desperate as if I were a limp, lifeless rag. I was a mannequin.
A few days later I got invited to go to a New Year’s Eve swing-dance party. So I put on my little gray flats and a cute dress, curled my hair and went. Now I have only tried swing dancing two times in my life so I have no idea what I am doing. All I know is one basic step and how to keep a simple rhythm. And that’s it.
There was one guy at the party who was extremely good. He was lightning fast, infallible on his feet, strong and decisive, and able to dip a girl till her head was inches off the ground without a flinch. And this guy asked me for a dance. So I did the only thing I could do. I put a little strength in my arms (so he could direct me), promised myself I would at least stay on the beat and gave myself completely to his lead.
Within moments I didn’t know which direction I was facing or who was watching. All I knew was that we were both hurtling through the space, in and out of each other’s arms and all around without a single stumble. I was flawless and everyone in the room stopped to watch us.
That’s when he leaned in and said “Okay, I’m going to flip you.” I gasped and said “Oh no! But I don’t know how!” However, he was not so easily dissuaded. “It’s okay. All you have to do is let go.” I sucked in a sharp breath. Let go? I could already feel my instinct, a very strong instinct, to grab his arm and hold on for dear life. “What would happen if I held on to your arm?” I whispered. “You would break it,” he said seriously. “It’s okay, just let go. Trust me.” I nodded, nervous but resolved, and in two heartbeats we twirled, and the next second I was whirling through the air in a backflip, then back on the ground on my two, solid feet, smiling like a sunbeam.
As I floated through the parking lot after my glorious dance encounter, I remembered the words from the conference speaker, about dancing with mannequins. That night, I had trusted myself completely in the arms of my lead, but I wasn’t a passive partner. He wouldn’t have been able to do anything if I’d just stood there waiting for him to move me. He was leading, but I was moving too. I pushed back against his hands with my own strength, I picked up my feet to his quick rhythm and when the time came, I let go of myself and let him toss me through the air. It was a dynamic, responsive relationship, and it was glorious.
I think that’s what God is looking for with us too. He doesn’t want a passive partner. He wants us to let him lead but maybe sometimes nothing is happening or changing in our lives because God is waiting for us to move with Him. It reminds me of the verse, “For He has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of love, a spirit of power, and a sound mind.” He has given us a spirit of love and power, and a sound mind, so we can rise up, take His extended hand, and join Him for the dance of our lives.
A woman of many God-given talents and ambitions,
Julia Dillard recently graduated from a master’s program
and is pursuing a career in Dance/Movement Therapy.