Captivating: Part II

Since Melanie outed me on my aversion to purses I might as well admit this, too: I used to tap dance, and I liked it. Well, I liked most aspects of it.

Many Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons my sisters and I traipsed up the steep staircase above the Dodge City Daily Globe newspaper offices in anticipation of seeing Grace Ann seated behind her large oak desk smoking a cigarette (it was before the days of knowing the dangers of second-hand smoke) and learning new dance steps or practicing old ones. Grace Ann and her assistants were, well, cool. They played music that wasn’t country western where the dog always met its demise from the late-night train trekking through town and Christmas was ruined by somebody’s drinking and somebody was caught doing something bad. Instead, this music had syncopation and an upbeat rhythm. Best of all, though, Grace Ann taught me how to tap.

From shuffle-ball-change to clicking my heels while suspended in mid-air, I grew to love the sound of my feet as my body made sense of the changing beat.

What I didn’t like about tap dancing, though, was performance. I hated the costumes I had to wear. They were itchy and made my skin bright red which I was sure was evident to the packed house at the local community college theatre where all of Grace Ann’s recitals were held. The tights we had to wear under our costumes were uncomfortable, either too tight or too loose. And, the hair pieces: well there isn’t anything like having something clamp your head, making your temples pulsate all the while twirling, jumping, spinning, and stomping.

While I dreaded the annual recitals probably as much as my father did, the practice hours always flew by. It was easy to become caught up in the dancing during those memorable sessions spent in Grace Ann’s dance studio.

By contrast, if I am to believe what Stasi and John Eldredge write in Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, my deepest desire is to captivate others, or, in the case of my young dancing career, it was to perform in such a way as to gain praise from Grace Ann, my parents, my peers.

Stasi Eldredge further explains that this captivating urge stems from Eve who succumbed to the wiles of the talking serpent. Ever since, Eldredge says, women have misplaced our longings to be noticed.

Fortunately, there is an answer to the question of every girl’s heart (“Am I lovely? Do you delight in me?”). We are to let Jesus romance us.

You may be perplexed by what it means to be romanced by Jesus. Thankfully, Eldredge goes on to explain how to captivate such a love interest. We are to find worship music that speaks of intimacy with Christ, find a Bible and get a journal and linger in a private place. She elaborates on the process: “You are entering the chamber only you can enter. You are bringing something to the heart of Jesus only you can bring. You are his Betrothed, his Beloved, the beat of his heart, and the love of his life. Draw near. He is waiting.”

In one of my future posts, I’ll explore the final chapters of Captivating, including what I’m sure will include an interesting connection between seeking to captivate Jesus on the one hand while simultaneously “arousing Adam” (yes, a chapter title) on the other. Until then, I’m gonna try to give the Eldredges the benefit of the doubt because surely they wouldn’t write an entire book based upon gender stereotypes.

And if I decided to dust off my old tap shoes to see if I can still manage a move or two, surely it is possible that this desire stems from the sheer joy of dancing, an act of self-fulfillment, something that doesn’t need to be intended for anyone other than myself. And, honestly, I don’t imagine Jesus begrudges me this independent act.