The Dance

A few months ago I sat next to my dad and brother at a Garth Brooks concert. (At this very second, you're either green with envy or judging my taste in music harshly. There's no lukewarm Garth fan.) I, for the record, am a hardcore Garth Brooks fan. When his songs blare through the speakers, I am teleported back to my 10-year-old self in my dad's pick-up truck running to Home Depot with a Slurpee in hand, and my dad's voice singing at the top of his lungs. Doesn't get any better than that. 

Nonetheless, I am a grown woman now at the concert with Daddy-o and my brother (A.K.A. my bub) and here comes Garth, talking to the audience and setting up my absolute favorite song that he sings. 

Looking back...
(He starts, and the group filled with liquid courage behind me goes crazy.) 

...on the memory of
(By this point, I reach over and grab my dad's hand because while everyone else is hootin' & hollerin' I am about to sob myself silly. The tears wallow over and stream down my face as the song continues....)

And now, I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end
the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss the dance.

As I sat there in a puddle of my own tears (which is where any good country song leads you to), I looked over to watch one tear fall from my dad's eye. His best friend, Gator Dean (yup...redneck blood runs strong in my veins), died when I was in high school. The two were inseparable. This was the song that brought him right back to sitting there with us - his life song. And as I squeezed my dad's hands and we remembered someone so special to us, the words just overwhelmed me. 

I thought of my dad and then my mom, who've both been dealt some really tough things throughout their lives. I thought of our family and their divorce. How we never expected to be divided. The pain everyone endured from the brokenness. I thought of the mountains I've climbed in my own life. Being wild as a teenager and having my daughter so young, and how the arrival of the next obstacle just always seemed so unexpected. I felt the rollercoaster of wishing they'd all never sideswiped me, and yet being so very grateful I never saw them coming. Because the song rings true: Had I wished them away, I sure would have missed such an amazing dance. 

And as I reflect back on that therapy session between my own two ears that took place in a huge arena, full of people having the time of their lives, I'm reminded of Mary, Jesus' mother. Now I bet you're thinking, "And how in the world is this woman going to lasso this redneck ponderosa blog into a bible lesson about Jesus' birth??" But y'all...don't question my talents.  

So, Mary, the VIRGIN MOTHER, who birthed our Lord and Savior. God bless her. How unexpected was the arrival of the angel to tell her that she was expecting?!? I mean, I was FOR SURE doing the deed myself and I was absolutely SHOCKED when two lines came up on that pregnancy test as a teenager. And how Joseph didn't call The Maury Show to determine if he was the father is beyond me. But I digress...

My pastor recently was discussing the angel Gabriel coming to deliver the news to Mary (a virgin engaged to Joseph, a carpenter) about Jesus being in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit and all that transpired afterwards. "Back then it was considered much more of a scandal than a miracle," he said about the situation.

Goodness, that line stopped me in my tracks. Here Mary is swallowed up in scandal and she could've wished it away. Could've said "nope, not me." But regardless of the struggles and the pain to come, as unexpected as they were, she was still willing to dance. And so she said "whatever you've got for me God, let it be!" Her whole life laid blissfully ahead of her as she entered a pending marriage in purity. Then unexpectedly, pain fell into her lap, into her plans. Being God's servant, she endured the scandal without reserve. She even went on to watch her son die on the cross. That pain is another level of unbearable for a mother. And, as I think of Mary, I can't help but put words into her mouth. Considering her willingness when that angel appeared to her in the very beginning, telling her that she was with child, I assume she saw Jesus on that cross and thought... 

And now, I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end
the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss the dance.

I know some of you religious folks might be gasping for air since I just made the Virgin Mary sing a Garth Brooks song, but if y'all can see her in a grilled cheese sandwich, then I can make her into a country singer. Nonetheless, we all have some unexpected things occur in our lives. We never expect that death, that divorce, that diagnosis, that lay-off, that miscarriage, that affair, that accident, that mistake, that hardship. And it's a good thing we never see them coming. Because whether you like Garth Brooks' music or not, he's onto something. You could miss the pain, I could miss the pain, Mary could miss the pain...but then we also would miss the dance.  

This is Candace. She hates long walks on the beach and would prefer a short drive to get a doughnut. Her creative spirit leaves her husband constantly guessing which room she'll decorate next and her kids requesting elaborate birthday parties. She'll tell you the truth, even if you don't want to hear it. But don't worry, she'll make you laugh to soften the blow. Her heart longs to share the realness of her life and provide someone else a "me too" in a moment of isolation. Words are her thing; she writes to heal. God grasped a hold of Candace as a teenage mama, and she's been desperate for His love and sensitive to His voice everyday since.