It has become a personal challenge, and I am far more competitive than people assume. So when Saturday night rolled around, I pulled out another dress, rigged the same system for my phone (even though it didn’t necessarily work before), and readied myself for the dance. Already, this was different than last week. Having relearned that God is the one in control, that He is the best dance partner, I was better prepared spiritually. The family I am staying with had returned, so I asked their opinion on my dress. I found a better parking spot, and I walked to the beautiful venue with confidence.
I smiled at my tree, the tree that I stayed beside last time. The sun shone a bit longer than before and there seemed to be more fireflies. The world had changed, even in just one week. In an interesting turn of events, a mother I’d met from a college group at a church introduced me to her son and his friends. We exchanged necessary pleasantries and introductory small talk. They told me their names, and I promptly forgot.
At one point during the small talk, the four young men joined arms in this swaying huddle hug. I stood on the fringe, giving them an uncomfortable smile. They decided to pull me in. One of them asked,
“So, who did you come here with?”
“Uhh, myself.” was my awkward reply.
My terrible inability to remember names has never gotten me in as much trouble as it did on this night of swing dancing. One of the nameless boys asked me to dance.
I warned him that I wasn’t very good, but he still offered his hand and led me to the dance floor. I may not remember his name, but I do remember the way his eyes focused on those around us until he caught the rhythm. I remember the way he smiled as he spun me. We danced together for two songs, and then he led me away. I followed, not knowing anyone else, and then he seemed to change his mind. The band struck up the next few notes of a song he liked, and so we danced a third.
This is the perfect start to a fairy tale, right? Handsome prince asks lonely princess to dance, and they keep dancing. Life is not a fairy tale, and for that I am grateful. Life is, however, a story. And stories would be very boring without climaxes.
We managed to talk somewhere in between the dancing. Even from the small talk, I learned big details. He seemed like a nice fellow who loved God, who had plans for the future, and who was my age. The music shifted and the dance instructor came out. Trying to appear as if I wasn’t as dependent as I actually was, when he suggested I participate, I willingly went.
I tried the dancing lesson, but I kept bumping into people. I couldn’t see the instructor well enough to follow along, so I made it back to where Nameless sat alone on a blanket. I laughed about my inability to see. But he didn’t say anything. He looked at his phone. After a few minutes, he said I could sit if I wanted to. I sat in the grass. I tried to think of questions to ask him, more small talk to make, but (as usual) the only question that came to mind was “If you were a potato, what sort of potato would you be?” Since my goal to not seem pathetic, I kept my question to myself.
After four bugs bit me and he stayed silent for a few more minutes, I just got up. I thought about offering an excuse, but anything I said would have been a lie. Insecurities were driving me again; I felt as if I appeared needy and dependent. After all, he was the only one I’d talked to. And he knew I was there alone. Nameless didn’t say anything, but then, what was there to say?
I found a new tree to stand beside, far from the glow of the spotlights, and I texted my friends, my sister, and my mom. I asked them what I should do. They gave a mixture of great advice. I wandered back over, and saw Nameless talking to some others. By this point, I hoped it looked like I had branched out and met new people. “You’re an elusive mystery” I tried to convince myself. In reality, I was back to being the lonesome wallflower in a setting without walls. I strategically stood in his line of vision, but I guess he didn’t see me. My insecurities told me he probably thought he’d done his kind duty for the day, that he moved on. I danced with one of his friends, the friend I sort of knew from the college group. It was incredibly awkward because I really am a terrible dancer and he was quite good. It was like introducing a first grader to a college class; everyone is frustrated when the first grader can’t quite live up to the expectations.
So I walked away. I wasn’t sad like I had been before. I didn’t return to an empty home and make hot chocolate. Last time, I was a ghost, flittering around the edges but not taking part. This time, I was Cinderella. My gown was from ‘Ross: Dress for Less,’ and I was my own evil stepmother, trapping myself inside a room of doubt. I doubt I’ll ever see Nameless again. But for a few moments on a Saturday Summer night, our stories intersected.
In need of some assurance, I’ve been reading about the life of Fanny Crosby this week. She wrote over eight thousand hymns and poems, many of which are still being sung today. She knew presidents. She was blind, and she endured much graver tragedies than being sightless. She wrote these words…
“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.”
These dancing misfortunes are just a sentence in my story. The beautiful dance with a nameless boy will almost certainly not have a lasting impact on my life, but the little details are what shape a character. Maybe next time I’ll talk to the kind stranger who takes pity on the lonely girl instead of letting insecurities drive me away. Although there’s very little likelihood I’ll be in this particular situation again, this odd anecdote is strangely applicable to many other details I’m sure to encounter.
In jobs, assignments, friendships, family, and even in the little moments of grocery shopping and car fixing, there will be little choices to make. Choices to stay silent or to speak, choices to stay or to leave, and choices to keep trying or to sit quietly by are rarely story worthy, but somehow, they become the story itself. This is my story, and this is my song. Will I praise my Savior, all the day long? When the dance is beautiful and hopeful and when the silence stretches long? Even in the little choices?
I know the ending to my story; the ending is the reason there’s a song for today. It’s the same ending Fanny Crosby met, and I’m willing to wager that it’s the same ending the boy who danced with me on Saturday will meet. I’ll dance forever in joyful praise of the Groom who gave it all to save me. Until then, may I praise him with the little choices that make up today.