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A Time to Dance

Dancing these days has been relegated to having Meg the Stallion knees and the uncanny ability to gyrate a single side of one's gluteus maximus on command. Perchance, if your Tik Tok trend can hit a million views from your mastery of choreography, you, my friend, have reached the pinnacle of stardom. Well, let me tell you now, if that is the prerequisite, many of us are disqualified.

Much like laughter, dance is awakened by the presence of something pleasant. And no, this isn't scientifically proven by experts, but I can say with all confidence, we've all witnessed how food that hits the spot can cause one to dance happily. Or we've seen how exciting news could result in a shimmy. Most of us can’t help but bounce to an imaginary beat when we've received something unexpected but hoped for.

Similar to music, I think dance is universal. But I've noticed that one's dance capability is relative depending on who you ask. I would even venture to say that when it comes to dancing, movement and rhythm, a particular group of people of a certain pigmentation tend to feel they have the monopoly. #melaninainttheonlythingpoppin

This group tends to judge those who may be rhythmically challenged as if the ability to contort your body and stay on the pulse simultaneously is the only measure that constitutes dancing. Nonetheless, I believe even if you're offbeat but happy, dance has done its perfect work.

Dancing whether in a secular or Christian setting, is something that the masses can do together. It's like a binding agent, or the activity, besides eating, that determines boredom or excitement. It is the 'dance' that measures just how good a time was had. #boywehadatimelastnight

Individuals dance for a variety of reasons. One reason being that it activates the reward centres in our brains. Another cause is that it allows people to interact socially. Dancing is also beneficial, as it refines our movement skills by improving coordination and timing.

I remember when the Praise Team was first introduced at my old church—I'll tell ya, it was quite an adjustment from song service. Anyway, in those days, I was also having my undercover club experiences. This was at the height of dancehall music’s version of line dancing. I mean every song featured its own routine. One song in particular called ‘Dancing instructions’, had us in perfect synchronization. Ooh wee, talk about fun times.

In the song, there was a directive that transitioned from repeating ‘propeller’ into chanting ‘helicopter.’ Both dance moves that accompanied these lyrics mimicked what in churchdom we call the ‘get something and wave’ hype. Needless to say, I was supposed to be waving my handkerchief for Jesus, but ya girl was in utter, I mean full-on propelling helicopter mode. The only thing left for me to do was take off.

I'm unsure if anyone noticed, but I had to yank myself from an alternate reality and remember where I was. This was my first inkling that music could run you up on brakes and get you caught up in the moment. ‘Cause while dance may be almost involuntary, every dance is not appropriate for every setting.

I was reminded of that moment recently, as all the trendy dances seem to be popping up everywhere. Numerous videos are making the rounds on social media of people, even from the sacredness of the church pew—dancing to their heart's content. It's gone from kids cackling as they perform ‘Renegade’ to a praise and worship remix to a most distasteful video of a group of women who decided they were gonna twerk for Jesus. #yarunningoutnow

Naturally, it makes you wonder if the ‘time to dance’ can only be contained in the infamous church stance of clenched fists with a bowed head and cue the fancy foot works. Or if any groove in any situation meets the criteria? Whatever the dance posture, why has Solomon added it to our seasons—this thing that can be interpreted so differently be it by culture, race or class?

The Old Testament makes extensive use of dancing as an expression of worship and adoration for God. I'm aware enough to know that dancing can also be used to worship the wrong idols—just like any other activity can. I mean let's be real, many Christians have negative views of dancing as a whole. When I was growing up, anything outside of that church mother one-two step was considered shaking up, yasef!” #anabomination

Let me say I've not been to seminary, and I'm no chief minister of the gospel who is qualified to pontificate the word as if I awake only to have crumpets and tea with Jesus. But what I am is a lover of the word, and more often than not, I see things from a different vantage point than most.

As a disclaimer, no, it doesn't make me right, but I share, so at the very least, it can provoke a thought you may not have ordinarily considered. With that said, let's unpack several possibilities of what Solomon meant when he informed us there would be a time to dance.

First off, church folks are quick to insert David's indecent exposure as a welcomed pass to any form of shaking a leg. Personally, I don't share the sentiment. As someone who's had some nightclubbing experiences, I see some church practices today that make me a tad bit uncomfortable. For one, I'm not too fond of dimly lit worship sessions against a backdrop of fog machines while lyrics are sung to secular beats. Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying I'd sit there scowling with my nose turned up, but I'm saying it's not my preferred cup of tea. Those moments cause me to remember some really wild times.

While I'm sure Solomon's reference to dance may not be as organized as doing the cupid shuffle, it may not be as far-fetched as David's debacle, either. So is there a satisfactory medium? Let's just say I believe a time to dance has a more freeing connotation than a celebratory one. It's more than the mere movement of one's body for a good time. ‘Cause truth be told, the merriment isn't always jovial for all involved.

Here is what I mean—there are two instances in scripture that I know of where a happy dance, so to speak, didn't have a happy ending.

The first is found in Mark 6:22 ESV “For when Herodias's daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.”

The second in Judges 11:34 ESV “Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah. And behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances. She was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter."

In case you're unfamiliar, let me bring you up to speed. When Herodias' daughter entertained her father and guests, she was rewarded with what her little heart desired. Do you know what she asked for? John the Baptist's head on a platter. And poor Jephthah vowed to God that if he won against the Ammonites, he would sacrifice the first thing that welcomed him home. While his daughter was overjoyed to see her father and pleased that he had won the battle, her life was really the price of his victory. #cansomeonesayspensive

What are you saying, sis? Why you even brought this up? I'm glad you asked. On the one hand, sometimes people are out there dancing because they know they've set a trap for your misfortune. And on the other hand, people watch your happy feet move all the while you are collateral damage to their achievement. But there is an upside; let's get into it.

Many of us witnessed comedian Mo'Nique lose weight by using a program called “Dance your Pounds Off." I believe more than a good time, dance can be a way for us to rid ourselves of the baggage that is weighing us down. In some cases, both literally and figuratively.

At this juncture, it's an excellent place to insert the story of David dancing before the Lord. Sure, Uncle David danced himself right out of his ephod (which is a Priestly garment), but you'd have to know what came before that to make it make sense.

Let me set the stage for you: Here's David, no ordinary man, but a King who was charged with bringing the Ark of the Covenant (a symbol of God’s presence) from Judah to the City of David.

Now, there was a whole lot of festivities going on during this journey. Never mind there was singing, dancing and playing of instruments but there were also 30,000 people along for the ride. #wearydistracting Unfortunately, the ox carrying the Ark stumbled. Of course, you'd think what transpired next was warranted—but apparently not. As the Ark slipped, Uzzah reached out his hand to prevent it from falling. Whew, chall, wrong move, Sir. God struck him dead.

David, now both mad and scared at God, was left to wonder if the task at hand was even possible. Understandably so because if that was any indication of what could happen, this journey was about to be long and traumatizing. #thepressureisgettingworser Instead he left the Ark at the House of Obed-edom for three months—which was a plus for that entire household. Long story short, David then attempted to move the Ark again, and this time after the men carrying it moved six steps, David threw a celebration and danced. #nobodymove #nobodygethurt (see 2 Samuel 6:1-15).

I can only fathom that this was David's way of saying, 'every step I make and nobody died—is good 'nuff reason for me to go off!' Can you imagine how that must have weighed on David; the fact that God had given him a task to carry out and the person who was only guilty of trying to help, lost his life?

On the flip side, while David's dance was his praise to God, that dance also cost him his marriage. His wife Michal was thoroughly unimpressed by this expression of worship. In fact, she was embarrassed. As far as she was concerned there was nothing kingly about his actions. How many folks watching you, and thinking to themselves you done lost your mind?

I'm sure many commentaries would have different interpretations of what happened here, but as I said, I sometimes see things differently. To me, David's dance was more than a performance. And if you know David's track record, you'd understand why.

If it were me, the dance would indeed signify that I didn't mess up on God, yet again! That I didn't fail at another God-given assignment. And in the world of Raquel, that's a big deal. I too would have danced in the same manner making it my declaration of freeing myself from the weight of my past. Which most times is fueled by people's opinions. Honey, if you've lived long enough, you already know that is a heavy burden to carry.

While Whitney Houston may have wanted to dance with somebody who loved her that's not always the case. All who dance with you aren't happy for you, nor are they with you.

Today's lesson is that dance can stand for three different things. For starters, one should not dance before knowing the cost, as you may be rejoicing prematurely. Or it can allow unneeded weight to fall of off you. And lastly, it may actually be a time of celebration. It just might be the turning point you've been praying for.

I must caution you though, while dance enables you to free yourself, dance also puts forth the opportunity to lose yourself. Don't act brand new, we've all seen the video of someone behaving badly. Either way, when the season of dancing presents itself, take a moment to read the room, then and only then, should you move accordingly.

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