In my entire life I have never lived in a town bigger than 12,000. I grew up in a somewhat rural area. Once I moved away to live “on my own” it never took more than 5 minutes of driving to find the woods. I prefer to be a “small town boy” however, there are times when a man must man up, be a man, and cross into the treacherous metropolitan regions to go….dancing.
Now, if you were on the edge of your seat anticipating a masculine coming of age moment in that previous paragraph, I apologize. With this said, I refuse apologize for finding a lesson of true masculinity in a story about folk dancing. One night last summer I got a call from my friend “Kate.” She asked if me…no she TOLD me that I was going to do “New England Contra Dancing” with her and a few of her friends. I took a moment to ponder the irony that we were going to drive into Minneapolis to do an activity invented in the woods of Massachusetts. “Okay Kate, I’ll be there.”
The best way to describe “New England Contra Dancing” is like this: it’s similar to square dancing but unlike square dancing, it’s possible to rotate “through the ranks” and dance with with many individuals during the course of one song.
Each person takes a partner and forms a couple. All of the couples stand across from each other and to form two long lines. Each 2 x 2 group is considered a “square” the person standing adjacent to you is called your “Neighbor.”
Now before you get too confused with the terminology of contra dancing, allow me to apply this terminology to the “dance” we call life. Most men will be called to marriage therefore, a man will take a PARTNER (a wife). Throughout the course of the SONG (um..life) one man will interact with many NEIGHBORS (other women) yet he only has one true PARTNER.
During a song you are expected to treat your “neighbors” with the same amount of respect as your “partner.” In real life a man must treat every woman with the same amount of respect as he would his wife. The masculine man will try to love every woman the way that God does. He will try his hardest to “will her good” even if she isn’t a romantic prospect.
I feel that a man has to learn to have healthy friendships with women. Those friendships can be important in the way that they can help him be a better husband and a better father. Even if you are a man, you find your “true love” and you marry her, you will not be in a mushy romantic state most of your marriage. It will take sacrifice and a good self-giving opposite sex friendship can train you for that.
We all want to love and be loved. This community of God, this Body of Christ we are a part of calls us to want and do what is best for our fellow members. This is not an easy task, there are sacrifices to be made. Every once and a while you have to “man-up” and go dancing.