Line eight

Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others.

I learned the tango for a part in a high school musical. My partner and I had fun with the steps, but the overhead lift was scary. It took many drops and falls to figure out what was necessary to do the lift without injury: firm position, flexibility, and repeated forgiveness of mistakes. If I went limp, he couldn’t lift me; if his arms were too rigid, I’d land head first on the floor behind him. We made many mistakes, and we both got bruised. We had to trust each other while we danced, and we had to work with each other rather than against. Bumps and misplaced body parts were just a part of learning the dance, not evidence of the other person’s ineptitude. When we danced onstage, we weren’t perfect but we were partners.

Learning to tango helps me with this line. Acting firmly isn’t maintaining a position with no give – that kind of rigidity puts someone on the floor. Acting firmly is taking responsibility for my own part in how today’s dance turns out, not taking all the blame or foisting it onto my partner (That might produce a great argument, but not a dance). I can learn from my missteps and forgive the missteps of others, not becoming bitter or seeking to embarrass others.

Wisdom is knowing that life is a dance more than a race.  The purpose is to move together to create something beautiful, not to leave someone in the dust. God alone can teach me to see a dance floor instead of a race track.

Today is a dance and everyone I encounter is my partner. When I act firmly and trust my partner’s strength, the lift works. Isn’t that the point – using my strength to lift another, and trusting the strength of the other enough to defy gravity? I may not be perfect today, but I’ll dance.

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