Lately, my wife and I having been taking dance lessons. I blame Donald Miller, whose book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, wormed its way into my soul, made me think about the kind of story I was telling with my life. So, it’s Don’s fault that I’m “stepping out” of my comfort zone.
So far, so good–we’re having fun learning the basics, but I’ve noticed something a little disconcerting: I’m not a very good leader. Which results in my wife not being a very good follower. If there’s an epiphany in this for me, it’s this: the dancefloor truly is a microcosm of my life. I don’t lead well, and consequently my wife doesn’t know if she should wait on me, or step out on her. Which means: she doesn’t always know if she can trust me to lead.
We know where dance is concerned, “there can be only one” leader, and traditionally this is the male. If life is at all like dance, two people trying to lead simultaneously usually ends disastrously. (I don’t want to stretch this analogy beyond its breaking point). Please note I am saying nothing here about intellect, capabilities, of gifts, but rather am trying to touch on roles, and responsibilities, which seem–to me, at least–to be inherent in the natural order. Which is to say that generally, and very broadly, there are two basic roles: initiator, and responder.
I know I am treading on very thin ice here, but please bear with me. I am not advocating that husbands endeavor to “lord it over” their wives, as that’s despotism, and has no place in a Christian marriage (or any marriage). What I am advocating is that “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25, ESV). You see, leadership requires sacrifice, making the hard decisions–even to one’s own detriment. As husbands, we need to create the kind of environment in which our wives feel safe to make the choice to “submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Eph. 5:22, ESV). This has to be a choice freely made, not coerced by demand. Not even God forces Himself upon us, but waits for us to choose to follow His lead (“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Rev 3:20, ESV).
Men, hear me: in the bedroom, we would never force our way upon our wives, because there’s a word for that: rape. How is coercion in other areas of life any different? We, like God did at Calvary, may initiate, but must leave the choice to respond up to our wives.
I realize this has lead me far afield from the dancefloor, but there is a method to my madness. While I’m learning to lead, my wife is simultaneously learning to wait on me. She is learning to trust my lead. I know it’s not easy for her, nor is it easy for me, as I’ve never been a natural leader. In a text message this morning, she said one of the most beautiful things she’s ever said to me: “I love you, even though you don’t always make the best decisions.” How very like God is that?
I suspect we will spend the rest of our lives working out this “dance.” And be the better for it.
I’ll leave you with this: I firmly believe if more couples took dancing lessons there would be less need for marriage counseling. Seriously. There are essential life skills learned there on the dancefloor: leading, following, trust, teamwork.
If you must flame me, please go ahead and do so in the comments. But I would prefer your kudos. Just sayin’. 🙂