If you know me well, you know that I LOVE to salsa dance. I love to salsa dance so much that I once taught an impromptu dance class while on a family vacation. I love salsa dancing so much that I keep my black suede salsa shoes in the trunk of my car, just in case.
So I was elated when my friend and I decided to go salsa dancing a few weekends ago. We had made plans more than a month in advance, and it was going to be the release to a stress-filled week.
But when I arrived at the Grenada (one of the hottest places to salsa dance in the L.A. area), I realized my salsa shoes were MIA. I scoured my car in search of them, but no enchilada.
Thankfully I had a pair of high heels in my car, ones with strong heel support—so maybe I’d be okay after all. Just to be sure, I tucked a pair of black socks into my handbag. Perhaps they’d enable me to spin on the dance floor if my heels failed me.
All night, I warned my dance partners not to try to spin me too much because I wasn’t wearing my dance shoes. They all obliged.
But after a couple of hours of dancing with high heels without appropriate padding for dancing, my feet were sore.
I contemplated wearing the socks, but there were dangers:
would a man, or worse—some woman in high heels—step on my unprotected feet and injure me with their shoes?
Would people think that I didn’t respect the place enough to wear shoes?
Would I look silly and unsophisticated next to the women donning sequined dresses?
I hesitantly put on the socks. I tried to spin. It worked!
A man walked over to me and asked me to dance.
“I’m wearing socks,” I warned him, pointing to my feet.
“No problem!” he replied back.
What he did next surprised me.
He bent down, untied his black and white dance shoes, and took his shoes off. He danced with me in his socks!
Let. that. sink. in. A stranger danced with me in his socks.
I felt so cared for. I felt seen and validated in a surprisingly deep way.
Did he know how self-conscious I was? Maybe. Maybe not.
But I felt his care just the same. I felt him looking out for me.
He literally met me in my self-consciousness and “stooped” to my level.
It’s as if he said I know you’re feeling self-conscious and perhaps a little embarrassed to be dancing in your socks; It’s okay, I won’t leave you alone. I’ll join you!
Instantaneously I thought This is how God loves us. This is what it feels like for Jesus to come and dwell with us. He stoops down to our level so that he can dance with us.
This is how Jesus loves us. He takes off his shoes, discards how other people will see him, and loves us where we are, whether we feel put together and socially acceptable, or not.
As we enter 2019, I pray that you, like me, will experience the God who stoops down to where you are, who meets you in your embarrassment and anxiety and extends his hand to you, saying, ”May I have this dance?"