Dancing with Jesus

Tango Dancers

Thirty-nine years ago, I accomplished the impossible:  I graduated as a single male from BYU.  Very rare back in 1977.  Relatively common today.

I moved to Houston with no wife in tow.  Young LDS singles being sparse, I was constantly on the look-out for a future spouse.  City wide dances were held every couple of months. Prime occasions to meet someone cute and available.  I don’t think I ever missed a dance. Within 1 1/2 years, I was married to my sweetheart. Singles dances faded into the distant past.

Odd Behavior

During those long-ago dances, I observed a rather interesting ritual.  There was a particular single man who attended regularly.  I’ll call him John.  He always brought a date.  The very same date.  I think they were engaged.

John followed a predictable pattern.  As the evening progressed he would only dance a couple of times with his delightful & dependable companion.  However, he danced every song…..with a different girl!  He was pretty picky and chose carefully who he asked.  You see, back then, there were girls who could count on dancing all night.  And….then, there were girls who could only hope.  Of course, these women were not deficient….in any way!  They may have been a bit different, but not deficient, defective, or discardable.  Never-the-less, there they were, lining the walls, filling a chair.  These are the women with whom John chose exclusively to dance the night away.

A Parable

Fast forward almost 40 years.  I didn’t see it at the time.  Maybe John didn’t either.  But, I see now that he was…..Dancing with Jesus.

One of my favorite spiritual teachings is found in Matthew 25.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least, ye have done it unto me.”  What a drop-dead gorgeous, tear-in-the-eye, teaching!  One of the mainstays for me choosing to follow Christ.

Back to John.  The women he chose to dance with certainly were not the “least” in most situations.  But, for some reason, that evening, they were the “least” in the cultural hall. Literally, they were at the margins.  Isn’t that the hallmark of Jesus’ ministry?  Reaching out to those marginalized by society?   John was Dancing with Jesus.

Over the years, I have often thought about the concept of the “least of these.” Occasionally, I’ve attempted to implement it.  At this point, I’d like to Dance with Jesus way more often.

The Least

So, who are the “least” around us, today?  Who are the modern lepers?  There are two groups that I think fit this category and that I want to actively reach out to.  They are not deficient or defective in any way!  They may be different.

Rainbow Ribbon

Group 1:  LGBT

For most of my life, society and the Mormon church have viewed gay people in much the same way as lepers were viewed in Christ’s time. They have been the poster child of marginalization.  Fortunately, our society is progressing.  Perceptions and understandings are changing for the better.  However, gay adults and children still face a very difficult road in the LDS community.  Parents and siblings also face daunting challenges.

I’ve decided to Dance with Jesus through my beloved gay brothers and sisters.  You are my friends.  I have your back.  I love you.

ThinkingGroup 2:  Faith Transitioned Mormons

Until the past couple of years, I would have never considered this a marginalized group.  I didn’t even know they existed.  Naive and sheltered was I.  No more.  I have personally witnessed the pain, anguish, and alienation of many members whose faith has been challenged by history and doctrine that seem to have been hidden and obfuscated by the very top church leaders.

Questioning, transitioning or transitioned members have no safe place within the church to discuss and work through their issues.  Rather, they are frequently judged as prideful, lazy, sinful or desiring to sin.  Often they FEEL alone and shunned.  Often they ARE alone and shunned.

So, I am now Dancing with Jesus through my good transitioning brothers and sisters.  You are dear friends.  I have your back.  I love you, no matter what path you choose.

Clueless?

Do I know exactly what I’m doing or how to do it?  Nope.  Will I stub my toes?  Will I step on someone’s feet?  Yep.  When I first started my ballroom hobby, I had 2 left feet.  After lots of work, I’ve advanced to: ½ right foot and 1 ½ left.  Progress!  In this new dance, I’m pretty sure I can count 3 left feet.  But, I’m Dancing with Jesus.  He led the leper.  He’ll lead me.

Now, on to Dancing with Jesus.

25 thoughts on “Dancing with Jesus

    1. Thanks. Frankly, I’m always surprised that people even read my blog. Your succinct comment is super meaningful to me.

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  1. Great post Sam. I like your story of John dancing with Jesus. I think I have been the “least” plenty of times in my life, and in those instances, that John person has made all the difference in the world. I’ve tried to emulate that as often as I can, but we all miss the mark at times. Going through my transition, being one of the least is even more poignant, so it is great to have you by my side, along with a few others like you. Thank you my friend.

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  2. I tried to post a bit ago, but it didn’t take. Take 2 I guess.. Sam, thank you so much for this post. It was great hearing your story, and what a great comparison in John. I have been one of the “least” plenty of times in my life, and in those moments, it has made all the difference in the world to have people there that have picked me back up or have been there for me to lean on. This transition that me and my family are going through is really hard, and the feeling of being one of “least” is that more poignant, so it is wonderful to know that there are people like you that are there to help. Thanks for what you do and for your understanding my friend.

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  3. I am posting here the comment I made on your Facebook post.

    Here is a little dramatic history:

    Throughout my teen years, I was never asked on a date and group dates were not yet a thing. I was also one of those young girls on the margin of the dance floor that you refer to in your post. Every monthly Stake dance was the same. Excited preparation and hope for a fun evening, then ignored for 3 hours, while being walked past, as the boys looked the girls up and down. We used to call it a cattle show.

    Youth Conference dances were especially painful. Every year my sisters and I would sew special dresses to wear at the dances that were given. (In the 1970’s, many girls made their own clothes…) Every year, I would stand against the wall, just like at the Stake dances, with many of my friends, somehow expecting it to be different, and wondering what was the secret of the girls who were asked to dance. I could not seem to alter my personality to make friends easily or attract boys. Nowadays, the girls get out there and dance with each other and have a great time, or they dance in groups of boys and girls, but that was not part of the culture then.

    At my last Youth Conference dance of high school, I was 17. I stood against the wall for several hours, occasionally drifting to the refreshment table with other girls, listening to the wild songs, the romantic songs, the toe-tapping songs, longing to whirl around the floor with the other kids. I was overcome with emotion; it was my last dance as a Youth. I had spent 4 years going to dozens of dances with no one ever asking me to dance. I had eagerly looked forward to each upcoming dance, eternally hoping it would be different.

    My heart was wrenching within me, tears were threatening to flow. I could not understand what was wrong with me. Why was I rejected? I thought I was a fun girl. I was moderately pretty, though a bit on the slender side. What was wrong with me? I decided I would never attend another dance, even at college. I was completely done trying to figure out the male species. ;-(

    The last dance was announced, and I decided to leave the building before I fell apart emotionally, so I headed for the door, squeezing through crowds of people. Suddenly, someone tapped my arm. I turned and saw a boy my age from my ward; a handsome fellow with many brothers, whom I had developed a crush on, and who had ignored me for the two years we had lived there.

    He asked me to dance!

    I was stunned. I was grateful. I was amazed. It is a sad commentary on my desperateness, but he literally saved me. Because he showed me a little bit of value, I was able to move on and brave the college dance world and do a little bit better socially than I did in high school. I actually married a guy who was in charge of the Social Dance Program at the college I attended.

    And we have had many years of dancing together.

    So asking a girl to dance can quite literally save her life.

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  4. Thanks, so much, for sharing your story. here. And I’ll follow your lead by posting my FB response:

    My eyes aren’t just moist anymore. I’m outright crying. One of my daughters told me, as we discussed this blog post, that this doesn’t happen anymore at the youth dances. Just as you mentioned. Tears of happiness for the happiness that you have found dancing with your guy. Your beautiful comment above confirms that I’m attempting a good path to dance with Jesus.

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  5. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story and these beautiful thoughts. If more LDS members can take your words to heart, I think it would go a long way towards healing the rifts with the LGBT and disaffected LDS communities.

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  6. Thank you! As a young woman, single at 23 with 4 children, I attended those dances until I decided to just stop torturing myself. Now as a senior inactive member I fully know the sadness of marginalization. Glad you’re out there doing what you do. Your blogs are always well written and fresh — keep up your good work!

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    1. Rather than “senior inactive member,” I’d prefer to refer to you as a “senior beloved member of the human race.” Thanks for your kind comments.

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    1. This may be the coolest response ever. David Dehlin read my blog! I can still picture vividly in my mind your wonderful, smiling laugh that resonated with such mirth and joy. Nice to hear from you, my friend.

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  7. What a sweet story. So simple yet so profound. As a member who is trying to communicate to others that it’s ok to “dance” with others, this is such an easy lesson to share. Thank you

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  8. I have family members in both these groups, as well as a sweet teenage daughter who will likely remain a wallflower for some time, so your profound message hits close to home. Thank goodness for the goodhearted saints willing to dance with the least of these!

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    1. Well, Daniel in Idaho, thanks for your comment and for reading my blog. I’m heartened that your family members in both these groups have someone to dance with. All My Best

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  9. Dancing is one of my passions I too used to attend the singles dances were there were far too many younger beautiful women who danced all night with the available men, I sincerely say that my sisters in faith and I danced all night to our hearts content in a circle with Jesus standing at the center “dancing with Jesus is a natural high”

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