Saturday, February 2, 2008

on salsa and imperfections

I watched ‘El Cantante’ tonight.

I rented it for the music, really; it’s about a salsa vocalist. To be honest, I never really cared for salsa music until I learned to dance with it. To feel it in your heart, and in your emotions. I had to see people passionate and in love with salsa before I could learn to love it on my own. To my friends it was more than just a genre or a defined set of dancing rules. It was feeling, and raw emotion. They would cry out in angst or shout with joy when they felt something move inside them, and somehow it melted into the melody perfectly every time.

Sometimes I feel like my life is a dance, and I am missing some of the steps. It’s like I’m still learning to love the person that I am, to be passionate about remaining that person no matter what comes. I have trouble sometimes realizing that that person is beautiful. I slip up sometimes. For some reason I am a lot harder on myself than anyone else is; I am my biggest critic. And in those moments when I lose my footing, it can be hard to find the beat again. To rise above a mistake or decision and realize that in my weakness, God is still good. He is not invisible when we cry out. He hears us when we are troubled.

Somebody else’s heart is troubled tonight, and my own heart is the cause. I have a way with words, and they can be good or they can be restless and exhausting. When it is the latter, I am prone to make others anxious with me… to drag them through my own insecurities or pain. I am learning, through that someone and through their words, that it is important to dwell on what is good. On things that are beautiful and true. Even in myself.

I get so caught up sometimes in my flaws, and forget to stop and be thankful for how far I have come. For the mountains I have climbed, or more frequently, been carried to the top of. For the flaws in my humanity that give me need of a Savior. For the dance through life, the missed steps and the beauty of sinking your feet back into the rhythm again.

Spinning and swaying through life is not always easy, and it is not always beautiful. But I am coming to find that in those moments when you have to come face to face with yourself; when you have let somebody down or you should have left things unsaid, hope can still be found.

There is a line in one of my favorite songs by Switchfoot that says, ‘Maybe Redemption has stories to tell; maybe Forgiveness is right where you fell.’

I think that is beautiful, and I am finding that to be true. We search so hard sometimes to have all the right answers or the perfect things to say. We read books that give us plans and formulas on how to seek God, when really, He is already beside us in those fallen moments. The broken moments. The times in my life when I have been the most awe-stricken by God is in the depth and totality of His forgiveness.

I have spent three hours trying to put this in black and white, in words that make sense and are logical. But it’s hard to resolve a story when you are still in the midst of it; when the ending lingers out of sight. It’s even harder to write about self. For me it’s easier to address broad and general issues, like problems in the church, or world hunger. But talking about flaws and imperfections in me is a whole different challenge, and it’s one that I usually try to avoid because it’s uncomfortable. It’s risky, and to be honest, I just don’t like it. I fidget a lot. Play a few games of solitaire to get away from it. Reheat my cup of tea. Things of that nature.

But somehow, in almost all of my favorite movies, the hero or heroine is made relateable to the audience by their weakness; by their fear. We love them because that is the one thing that we all share; it’s the greatest appeal to the human emotion because we have all been there. We have all felt our weakness. We all know what it’s like to fall short and to crave that second chance. In the movie tonight, the main character’s wife talks about how his main struggle in life was being unaware of how loved he was by others. She said he had so many people that loved him and he just couldn’t see it about himself; he didn’t understand why.

That is my heart sometimes, and that is one of my greatest struggles. I was comforted in knowing that others wrestle with the same things. So just maybe those things we are afraid of sharing are the things that tie us all together. The things that make us human. They are proof of the God at work in us.

I am thankful for the dance, and for God at work in me. Thankful that I am not who I was, and that the person I will be is wiser than the person that I am today. I am thankful for the steps that I missed along the way, not because I fell, but because it is beautiful to be picked back up.

And I will always be picked up.

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