broken but not crushed

Helping each other live successfully and abundantly in the face of brokenness.

Location: Columbus, Central Ohio, United States

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Let’s get the truth out there right away – I can’t dance! You say “But you are in a wheelchair, Dwight, no one expects you to dance.” Nice try – I couldn’t dance pre-chair. It’s amazing to me that God gave me so many musical gifts – singer, songwriter, keyboardist, instrumentalist – and I've had so many jobs in the music field – concert artist, worship leader, choir and orchestra director, college professor – and I just can’t dance. For some reason my feet have never been connected to my brain when it comes to dancing.

I’m reminded of a somewhat painful story. Fifteen years ago I did quite a bit of local theater. I’ve played some really fun roles – The Wizard in the “Wizard of Oz”, ship’s captain in “Anything Goes”, and my favorite of all, the Ghost of Christmas Present in “A Christmas Carol”. Once, when auditioning for a role there were three separate auditions, one for speaking voice, one for singing voice, and one for dancing.

I went to the first audition - speaking - and the summation on the clipboard said “Wonderful voice! Deep, resonant, very pleasant to listen to. Should be cast in a leading role”. I kind of liked the sound of that review.

I went to the second audition – singing – and the review sounded even better to me. “Amazing voice. powerful delivery - excellent technique – well trained, should be hired to teach others. Easily the best voice in the house today.”

Reviews like that can make one’s head swell a little.

Then I went to the third audition where we were asked to just move on the stage. Not dance, mind you, just some ordinary, flowing stage movements within the rhythms of the music. I will never forget the blunt, two-word description of my attempt. “No hope!”

So there I had it. The official proof, a professional judge’s two-word opinion of my abilities – “No hope!” I thought they could have done away with the exclamation point, though I was well aware that I deserved it. Because I just can’t dance.

But I like the idea of the dance. I celebrate the joy of a body flowing to the rhythms of good music and the art of telling a story without words. I applaud the dedication and single mindedness of the prima ballerina. I watch “So You Think You Can Dance” and, like many of you, giggle at those who dance like me, and then I am utterly amazed at the skills of some of the best.

Two of my most priceless moments in time were when I danced with my two daughters at their weddings. Goodness, they knew I couldn’t dance – I mean, they knew I had NEVER danced! But they wanted to dance with me anyhow, so I walked out there in front of all those people, held my daughters close enough to hear them breathe but far enough away so I wouldn’t step on them, and I danced. To this day my eyes fill with tears at the simple remembrance of those nearly sacred moments in my life.

I think the thing I like most about the dance is that it speaks to my soul of the freedom to express ones self in spite of any other circumstances. Several years ago there was a country tune called “The Dance” sung by Garth Brooks that told the sad story of love lost, and concluded with the line “I could have done without the pain, but I’d have missed the dance”.

I live there in my everyday life, just like many of you. Let’s face it, no one likes to hurt. But I don’t want to miss the dance either. The worst advice I ever got was from a doctor who told me “If it hurts, don’t do it.” The results of following that advise was that I just sat in a chair because everything hurt. For a few months I did nothing, went nowhere, reached no one, and couldn’t have cared less because I was following the doctor’s orders.

My favorite book besides the Bible is a small volume by Tim Hansel titled “Ya Gotta Keep Dancin’”. I’ve read it no less than 9 times and I recommend it without reservation to anyone who is hurt or hurting because it describes the journey to joy in the face of the pain. Let me quote a short paragraph that literally changed my life. “Sometimes you have to choose the pain. If you want to accomplish anything in life, you have to choose the pain and then get on with it. Not that you celebrate the pain or the agony. This isn’t a sadistic choice. But if you want to really live your life you sometimes have to decide it’s worth it to hurt.”

And so I have adopted that advice, and many times over the years I have been heard repeating the phrase “I choose the pain.” And it has been worth it! By the way, I danced at those two weddings, pastored a church for 10 years, and played those roles at the theater AFTER my first accident, after the onset of the pain and the birth of the disability. I dare not even begin to imagine what I would have missed had I not chosen to live in spite of the pain.

My desire for each of you is this: no matter how much you hurt, no matter how many obstacles you face each day, no matter what challenges life has thrown at you, I WANT YOU TO DANCE! Choose to live! If you haven’t done so already, decide that today will be the beginning of your quest to make something worthwhile of whatever life has left you. If you are already doing it let’s celebrate together! I can’t say it loud enough nor can I express it more emphatically – DANCE, my fellow traveler, DANCE!

Spinnin’ in my chair,


Blogger hennhouse said...

I hope you are Esther-Faith's dance teacher.

Blogger Sam said...

I heard a sermon once that used the word "guidance" to signify how we are to look at life.

God, you, and I, dance. G-U-I-DANCE

What a wonderful thought that if we choose to dance with our Lord, the result is His supreme guidance over and through our life. Even on a metaphoric level, that's an exciting idea that should get us on the dance floor more often. Great post Dad!


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