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  • Jennifer Z. Major

Dancing out on a limb.

*Before you read this, you should know that the names I used are not their real names....

So...I was almost on time to church yesterday. Yes, my superpower is "arriving late".

Anyway, so I found where my husband was, and joined him. Seated a few rows ahead of us was our friend *Danielle. Not to be confused with our other friend Danielle. Who was also seated a few rows ahead of us.

Then again, it's slightly hard to confuse the Danielles, as one is a redhead, and one is, well, tall. And she's from Africa.

Redheaded Danielle is really sweet, has fabulously stealthy snark, but is somewhat quiet and reserved, Taller Danielle is not exactly reserved. While she is witty and funny, she isn't exactly quiet, but we'll get to that in a minute.

Here's the thing, Taller Danielle LOVES to worship. She's cornered the market on "refined exuberance". If she is not dancing during the singing? Something is wrong.

And no, nothing wild and inappropriate. Just very Danielle.

So, yesterday, I decided to take a moment to observe Taller Danielle as she praised God during the singing. And here's the thing, Taller Danielle does not appear to care at all what anyone is thinking. Which makes me love and respect her even more.

And which is exactly what makes me watch in awe as she claps and moves and worships God, and God alone. Not once did she turn around and check out all the people in the congregation. Not once did she ask anyone's opinion of what she was doing. Was she concerned that there'd be a petition circulated for her to dress in beige and stand still? Ha, no.

Taller Danielle has an interesting story, which I won't go into because I don't have her permission for that. But if there's anyone who defines "tough, resilient, loving, and determined"? It's her.

We have this thing, and she does this with a few others as well, and to new people, I am quite sure it's a bit, umm, surprising. If I see her first, I yell, "Black Sistah!" To which she will reply, "White Sistah!" Then we hug and laugh and catch up. Sometimes, people sort of stare. Which adds to the fun because umm, she's taller...

So, here's my point...Taller Danielle did not grow up in a staid, Canadian church that occasionally busts out with the clapping of hands , and for some, the sort of scary thing known as "raising hands in worship".

Taller Danielle grew up in Africa.

And yes, Taller Danielle could lead the class known as "sing and dance, children of the Lord".

Could I do what she does? Nope. Not at all. Not only would that give my family reason to haul me out of church, and it would be completely disrespectful of her, and of her culture, it would be entirely fake.

We are all different. Yes, we all change and grow as we age, but unless we stay authentic to how God made us, we mock the characteristics that make us who we are as individuals.

For some, it takes decades to find the secret hiding places deep inside ourselves where, as much more cautious individuals, we hid our dreams away for safe keeping, long before we could find the strength needed to bring them out into the light of day.

Long before we dance like no one is watching.

Danielle reminded me yesterday, merely in her worship, that God did not make me an extrovert capable of worshiping with reckless abandon. He did not give me the gift of indifference to the opinions of others.

He did not make me brave.

But He made me determined.

He made me a storyteller with a desire to weave truth into fiction in order to tear away at the fabric of misconception.

We're not called to change into someone that we're not. We're not called to pretend. We are called to be honest and truthful in what ever it is that we do.

It's Micah 6:8, all over again...He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Be the person God made you to be. Be prepared that the journey to find out who that person is will take time, and it will take a few tears.

But all along that road? Dance. Even if all you can muster is tapping your feet. Even if things seem really hard.

Know that sometimes, "hard" is all in how you look at it. Just remember that nearly every step that Fred Astaire took, Ginger Rogers did it backward, and in heels.

But, she did it.

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