With something approaching dread I walked from my car through the darkness to the community hall, my wife by my side. I had never, ever done anything like this before. As I trudged toward the stairs, I felt like a lifelong atheist walking into a Sunday morning service for the first time. For on Wednesday, October 28, I went Scottish country dancing.
For the uninitiated, Scottish country dancing is an old, traditional Scottish form of dancing. It’s not like breakdancing or boogie dancing or some kind of dirty dancing – get your mind out of the gutter! It’s a folk dance involving simple choreographed movements. People often dance in kilts and ghillies (soft-soled dancing shoes), although I was unstylish, wearing cords and a sweater.
By the end of the night my mind was spinning because of all the turns, moving in and out, and skipping around I had done. I felt rather overwhelmed from all the new information bouncing around inside my head. (I also had a hole in the sole of one of my socks, as I don’t have any ghillies!) It takes time to establish new thought patterns, body movements, and mental habits. And it takes time to build any new worthwhile habit.
Have you formed any habits of godliness? Is it automatic for you to read your Bible as soon as you wake up in the morning? Have you developed the habit of praying whenever a need comes to mind? Do you even have to think about going to church on Sunday morning, or do you just do it?
If you don’t do these things, you should. Yet it is easy to quit early because it feels strange – much like how I felt about Scottish country dancing. It might feel unnatural and forced to follow the disciplines of godliness. But this is perfectly normal at first. C.S. Lewis pointed out, “As long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance” (Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer). But once you get used to praying always, or reading God’s Word as soon as you wake up, it will feel natural. You’ll be able to dance with pleasure and delight once you’ve trudged along in duty for a while. You just have to stick to it. Ask God for grace to help you do right, over and over and over again, until it becomes a happy habit.
So will I stick to Scottish country dancing every Wednesday? I think I’ll go again, but I won’t go weekly. But daily I will keep reading my Bible, and I will seek to delight in the Lord even more in meditation and prayer. Because I don’t really need to learn to dance; but I do need to learn to walk with God closer than ever before.
But anyway, the next time I go Scottish country dancing, I do have something to look forward to. I won’t feel quite as awkward, and the lady in charge has promised to bring me some ghillies to wear! But a kilt… well, that’s a different story.
Image Credit: Royal Scottish Dance Society – Delaware Valley Branch