Throughout our college years, a friend and I did a lot of line dancing. Twice a week, we’d pull on whichever cowboy boots had the least amount of horse poop on the bottoms and head out for some fun. We knew every dance to every song, even those at the highest level of difficulty. I took pride in my abilities. Knowing I was one of the best dancers on the dance floor gave me a great sense of accomplishment.
This past summer, I was reunited with family, friends, and relatives that I hadn’t seen in years. For the first time in a half decade, I found myself once again headed out for a night of dancing. Most of the group had never line danced before. Nonetheless, we were looking forward to a fun evening. My old dancing partner joined us as well, and I reveled in the deja vu. It was a different crowd, in a different city, with different dances and songs being played, yet I felt like I was suddenly plucked through the strands of time and placed back in my old college days.
Shortly after we arrived, the local line dance instructor held a “lesson” where she went through a lower difficulty dance step by step several times before adding in the music. I quickly picked up the moves and fell in step with the music, eventually adding an extra spin where I could which increased the level of difficulty.
One of my mother’s friends was trying to follow me by watching and copying my footwork. As she tried to copy my extra spins and other added moves, she found herself getting lost. It seemed she was having fun anyway, and with a laugh I said, “Don’t follow me!”
I was more absorbed with my appearance and achieving the highest level of difficulty in the dance than I was with being conscious of how my less experienced friends were faring. Most of my group quickly gave up, unable to keep up with the steps. My old partner and I danced a little more, while the others gathered at a nearby table to talk and enjoy each other’s company.
It wasn’t until the night was over that I became aware of my own selfishness and became filled with regret. I lamented over what I had missed out on—the opportunity to help someone who didn’t know as much as I did about the dance.
Sometimes things feel good in the moment, and in that moment, feeding my own ego felt better than slowing down to help someone else. Promoting myself felt better than lifting up my mother’s friend who was trying to follow me. Had I been more aware, I would have realized I could teach her what I knew and have fun at the same time, but my focus was all wrong. I wasn’t being malicious or purposely inconsiderate, but it doesn’t matter how well-intentioned I was. What was fun at the time became hollow in my memory because I filled my circumstances with fleeting, material happiness rather than the substance that makes up eternity.
The world may value self-righteousness, receiving, personal happiness. But God values compassion, humility, giving, and personal sacrifice. Above all else, He values love. Sometimes we are given opportunities for small acts of love, and it is up to us to say, “Yes!” The next time I see someone beside me, watching my steps, I’ll say, “Come follow me!”
“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love” (1 Corinthians 13:1-7, MSG).