My husband and I own a ballroom dance studio and event venue in Angier, NC called Grace Ballroom (check us out here on Facebook). We currently have been open 5 years and a few months. We opened then studio when we were 19 and 20 and it has been a roller coaster of stress, lessons, excitement, adventure, and growth. In May of 2014 we bought a large building so we could have the opportunity expand and grow our business beyond just teaching ballroom dance and after much renovation and hard work we held our grand opening June 20, 2014. It has been very exciting and there is so much potential.
In January of 2015 we decided that he would begin to train me to become a ballroom dance instructor so we could continue to keep the business within the family. If you know me, even as a high school History teacher, I am quite reserved. Also, over the past 3 years of teaching in the public school system I have come to realize that, personally, I learn better when you first show me THEN make me do it. If you throw me into a situation with no preparation…I don’t swim, I freeze up and sink. So, in this training, he has been patiently (VERY patiently) helping learn how to teach a student.
In today’s training we began to work on the basics of the Rumba. Don’t get me wrong, when I get out there on the dance floor with David, I can follow just about anything he throws at me (most of the time). There are so many moves I know how to do as a follower but if I had to name them, let alone teach them (leader OR follow steps) there’s just no way. In today’s lesson, though, he showed me how to teach the basic step of the Rumba then MADE me do it. This is a big deal for me, and I think it’s going to be good. For 1) it forced me to make sure I was paying attention to what he was teaching me, 2) it forced me to let go of him as my “security blanket” (as he called it). This is a big struggle for me, especially when I feel uncomfortable or unprepared, but today was the first step.
Lesson 1: If you’re nervous about doing something, it’s okay (as long as what you’re doing is good), just close your eyes, swallow the nerves, and jump right in!
This reminds me of something one of my all-time favorite teachers told me to do when it came to teaching. He said it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been teaching, that first day with new students will ALWAYS make you nervous and sweaty. The thing to do when that happens is to act like a duck. That sounds crazy…when he said it I envisioned walking into the room quaking and waving my arms around. But his idea was a little more professional- when you think about a duck swimming across the water, it looks beautiful and graceful above the water, but if you were to dip a gro-pro under the water, that duck’s legs are going crazy underneath to paddle where it needs to go. So, when you feel nervous, your heart may be racing a million miles an hour, but make sure your exterior is calm, cool, and collected and no one will know the difference.
This also makes me think of what my counselor told me when it comes to dealing with stress and worry in a Christlike manner. It’s not sinful to be stressed, but it is sinful to let that stress turn to worry- worrying means you don’t think God can handle the situation, that God is surprised and doesn’t know what’s going on. Worry means you think you can do it yourself, but it’s wasted energy. Two of the most practical things she told me to do when I feel like I’m going to crash and burn in worry is to try “re-scheduling” my worry. I won’t think about it now, but schedule for tomorrow at 3pm to worry about it. That forces me to push off my thoughts so I can clearly deal with a situation and then by 3pm the next day I’ve forgotten to worry. The other option, if it’s just too much, is to remember all the horrible/stressful things God has already gotten me through, and to remember if God handled those then He will handle this, too.
Lesson 2: Fix yourself before you try to fix the other person.
In today’s dance lesson, when we discussed frame, lead/follow and posture, one thing David said that often happens is that in a lot of dance couples, if something is going wrong someone might try to blame it on the other person- the other person wasn’t following right, the other person wasn’t leading right, etc. He said, instead, before you start pointing fingers at anybody, think, “Hey, we messed up. Is there anything I was doing wrong that I can correct?” This seems so simple but to me, it was just mind-blowing how incredibly well this could be a lifestyle practice, not just a ballroom practice. This works in marriage, in careers, in friendships, in general- life. If you have two or more people doing something and something goes wrong, if each person thought to themselves how they could correct themselves rather than pointing fingers and blaming each other, there might be so much more peace in the world. Being aware of yourself, taking responsibility for your own actions, and correcting yourself first creates balance in a relationship, pointing fingers causes people to feel defensive and can create tension.
This is so easily reflected from the Word-
Luke 6:42 “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”
So many people want to point at this and say “Oh, you shouldn’t judge, you shouldn’t blame, you shouldn’t point fingers, just love!” That’s not what this verse is about. It’s about making sure you check yourself first. If you’re struggling with porn, don’t try to help someone else escape it before you repent from it yourself. It’s not a matter of don’t correct other people, it’s a matter of how you do it.
1) Is there a problem?
2) Is there something I could do to improve the situation? Is there something I’m doing wrong that I need to fix in myself/my actions?
And THEN, if the problem isn’t fixed and you see your partner struggling- HELP them with kindness, love, and patience!
Again, I’m using ballroom dance as an anecdote for life. There are things that are right and are wrong. So often, I hear people say we should love each other (especially as Christians to non-Christians). I feel like a lot of times this is misunderstood. If you see someone struggling in an area that will hurt them (drugs, sex, porn, cussing, whatever) you shouldn’t just shrug your shoulders and leave them be. If you saw someone drowning, would you just shrug your shoulders and walk off? No! You’d try to pull them out of the water, and then if they need CPR- check yourself, do you know CPR or do you need help to help them? Same in life, same in Christianity, same in anything. Identify the problem, check yourself to see if you’re prepared to help them, if not, seek help yourself and also point them towards that help, too. If you are prepared to help them, then help the other person in kindness, love, patience, and concern for their well-being, not out of a holier than thou attitude.
Love is not an excuse to not correct someone, it’s an opportunity to build someone up, set them on the RIGHT path.
True love is not about letting people do whatever makes them feel good, or whatever is easiest, it’s about kindly helping people do what’s BEST for themselves.
Just some lessons from the Ballroom to the Real World.