Life is a dance. We start out learning the rhythm by ourselves, in groups of friends and enemies, with our parents choosing the dance practice.
Then we learn what we like to do and choose for ourselves, but the rhythm that we learn as children continues and gets better over the years.
Marriage is a partnership – a dance with someone else – When both partners are well skilled, and have learned to dance well, the dance is beautiful.
If they try to perform too soon – if they aren’t right for each other, what was intended to be beautiful is instead cringe-worthy and ugly. People avert their eyes and pretend to unsee.
A dance alone is far better than a dance with a bad partner. So dance alone as long as you need to – don’t settle on a partner just because they are there – a beautiful solo performance is far better than a partner who drops you.
Concentrate on being the best dancer you can be yourself. Don’t worry about the other dancers. We each do our part in our own time to be the best we can be. Being our part makes the dance beautiful. Don’t envy or begrudge another their part in the dance.
Don’t be afraid to try dances with different people. But choose your life dance partner wisely and slowly, listening to our coaches who can see what we cannot.
Sometimes in the midst of the dance we miss what our friends see from the outside. Sometimes the dance is beautiful from the outside, but people can’t see the tight grip or controlling direction of one of the partners. So evaluation from within and without are necessary.
The best advice comes from skilled dancers. Bad advice comes from the novices.
It takes time to get good, to fall into unison, to each learn their own part. Sometimes the process is painful and our foot gets stepped on too many times to continue with that particular partner. But we don’t stop dancing because we had one bad partner.
If we try and follow a script in a role for someone else the dance can be robotic because we are trying to force a role that is not our own. Don’t force a partnership that is just not working, dance away and try again.
Let the dance be beautiful.
After performances and practices and a lot of hardwork, in the fun of it all, you fall in step with someone – realizing they know the same steps you do. Sometimes you falter, but it becomes smoother the longer you go. You each learn your parts and the dance slowly becomes performance ready. You realize that all the time spent in preparation has made you both better dancers.
And that’s marriage.
After the performance you keep dancing – and they keep getting better. You instinctively know what your partner will do because you have spent so many hours practicing.
When you find that partner – marry him.
But remember – you are a dancer long before you have a partner and you will always be one whether they are by your side or not. Your unique gifts make the larger dance beautiful – whether or not you have a partner does not change that.
Whether solo or with a partner or both at different points in the dance – you are a dancer and it is your unique beauty, talent and creativity that make the dance come alive. Wherever you go, whoever you dance with, you make the dance beautiful because of who you are. A partner adds new steps, but they do not complete the dance for you. They do not do the dance for you.
Sometimes they will carry you and sometimes you need to let go and dance back a few steps for the beauty to be full. Circling, twirling, laughing – the dance comes alive not because you have a partner, but because both of you are passionate about the dance itself. You are both fully yourselves. This makes an amazing dance.
Together, or solo, or both at different times, each adds a greater beauty to the dance. Your solo act is an important part of the dance – don’t discount it’s beauty. With a partner, dance so that it shows off the best of both your talents. Wherever you find yourself in the dance, dance because you love the dance itself, not to make it something different.
Dances are different in the seasons of life – a ballet is not a salsa, nor should it try to be. Both are beautiful when danced by skilled dancers. Sometimes we dance with partners, sometimes solo, sometimes with a whole team of support.
Dance into your own rhythm and creativity. You are beautiful.
I wrote this post as an analogy – in our worship of marriage and romance in Western culture, we have a tendency to discount the beauty of just being. Singleness is too often treated as a condition to be rid of rather than a blessing to enjoy. I am so happy to be in a good marriage now – but my life was good when I was single too. Marriage only enhanced that which was already there – I am not a different person, no problems were cured through marriage, we just learned the steps to a new part of the dance. I could not be the person I am in this marriage if I hadn’t been fully on my own in a wonderful “season” of singleness before I was married.
I don’t consider myself to be anymore of a person or more adult now than I was before. Through the dance steps and the rhythm we have now, for both of us that started before and we continue to be who we were, we are just in the partner step part now and not the solo.
Whether or not a person ever gets married does not define them as a person. How we live our lives – how we dance the dance – that makes a huge difference in who we are. Far better to be happy single than miserable in a bad marriage. If you are married – you are blessed. If you are single – you are blessed. Dance well – all of us.