Sunday, January 24, 2016

I Hope You Dance

One of Lee Ann Womack’s hit songs is one called “I Hope You Dance” some of the words include:

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
GOD forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance....I hope you dance.

I like the message of that song – don’t let your fears keep you from achieving your goals, just go out there and dance. It doesn’t matter what people think. Go for your dreams and have fun doing it.

When I was at BYU I was a member of the BYU International Folk Dancers. There was never a show that we did not have several dancers making mistakes, it is almost impossible to do it perfectly. Our director, Mary B. Jenson, always would tell us not to worry about mistakes. No one will ever know if we made a mistake unless we do something that would focus on the mistake. We were supposed to just get over it and get back in the rhythm of the dance and go on. The Book of Mormon Prophet Alma taught:

For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. (Alma 34:32)

The purpose of this life is to learn through by our experiences. We need to realize it is ok to make mistakes, but when we do we need to learn from them and then not repeat the mistake. Our eleven-year-old grandson played football for the first time last fall. In one of his games he missed a tackle and the player scored a touchdown. He came off the field crying because it was his fault the opponent scored. I tried to console him and tell him it was ok. On the ride home we talked about it. I asked Nathan if he was the only one to miss the tackle and he said no. Nathan was playing in the secondary so he was the last chance to make the tackle but everyone else also missed him before he missed. Then I tried to help him understand that it is through our mistakes that we learn and get better. I asked what he could have done different so he would have made the tackle and we talked about learning and getting better. I also reminded him that he was only ten (he was ten at the time) and the purpose of football at his age is to learn and gain skills so when he is older he won’t make those mistakes later.

Brad Wilcox, in a BYU-Idaho devotional told the students of a high school game they would play on the bus while coming home from debate competitions. The game was called Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They would be slapping their knees and clapping their hands in rhythm as they called out someone’s name. that person would have to repeat all the names and then call out someone else’s name without breaking the rhythm or making a mistake. If they made a mistake they would have to go to the back of the bus and start working their way up to the front again. He said:

“What I realize now is that wherever I was sitting on the bus, the bus was still continually taking me toward home.

“In the Book of Mormon, we read about people who loved God so much they had “no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.”10Does this mean they were never enticed again? Surely not, since that would have limited their agency. Does this mean they never made another mistake or had another bad day? No. They probably messed up just like we do, since they were living in the same fallen world where we live. The issue isn’t whether or not they slipped, but that they didn’t want to slip. The renewed people of King Benjamin probably sinned again (moved to the back of the bus), but they most certainly recognized the mistakes they had made, repented quickly, and kept trying. They lived in a constant spirit of repentance—continually renewing their covenants. In other words, they stayed on the bus as it moved steadily toward its destination. Enduring to the end does not mean living without errors. Enduring to the end means enduring in the covenant despite errors—remaining in the bus and continuing to play the game no matter where we currently sit, or how many times we are taken to the back.” (“The Law of the Gospel”, Brad Wilcox, BYU-Idaho Devotional, July 31, 2015)

I remember playing games like this and we always would laugh and taunt anyone that would make a mistake and go to the back of the bus. One thing we must remember when it comes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we are all moving in different directions on the bus and we must never be critical of someone for making a mistake and moving to the back of the bus. We especially need to take care of how we treat someone that has chosen to get off the bus for a time.

Sometimes we might wonder if we are not worthy to be in church or go to the temple, or even partake of the sacrament. Bro. Wilcox said:

“I’m not worthy,” “I’m not worthy to pray,” “I’m not worthy to go to church,” “I’m not worthy to partake of the sacrament,” “I’m not worthy to go on a mission,” “I’m not worthy to go to the temple.” We don’t partake of the sacrament because we are worthy, we partake of the sacrament because we are willing to become worthy. We don’t go to church because we are perfect, we go because we are willing to be perfected, and we certainly don’t go on a mission, or to the temple because we’ve “made it” in our Mormon culture. We go to these sacred environments because it is there that the Lord is making us. It is there that we allow him to continue to shape, and mold, and guide, and help us. As we renew our covenants, we are committing not to be perfect like Christ immediately, but to be willing to be perfected in Christ over time.” (“The Law of the Gospel”, Brad Wilcox, BYU-Idaho Devotional, July 31, 2015)

In a conference talk this past October, Elder Willord W. Andersen gave a talk titled “The Music of the Gospel”. He tells of an old Native American that walked into the hospital and a young doctor asked if he could help the man. The old man did not respond and the doctor finally said: “I cannot help you if you don’t speak to me,”. The old man looked at him and said, “Do you dance?” The doctor realizing the old man was probably a tribal medicine man who healed through song and dance said, “I don’t dance, could you teach me?” The old man responded, “I can teach you to dance, but you have to hear the music.” Elder Andersen continues:

“Sometimes in our homes, we successfully teach the dance steps but are not as successful in helping our family members to hear the music. And as the old medicine man well knew, it is hard to dance without music. Dancing without music is awkward and unfulfilling—even embarrassing. Have you ever tried it?

“In section 8 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord taught Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, “Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart” (verse 2). We learn the dance steps with our minds, but we hear the music with our hearts. The dance steps of the gospel are the things we do; the music of the gospel is the joyful spiritual feeling that comes from the Holy Ghost. It brings a change of heart and is the source of all righteous desires. The dance steps require discipline, but the joy of the dance will be experienced only when we come to hear the music.

“The challenge for all of us who seek to teach the gospel is to expand the curriculum beyond just the dance steps. Our children’s happiness depends on their ability to hear and love the beautiful music of the gospel.” (“The Music of the Gospel”, Elder Willford W. Anderson, General Conference, October 2015)

How do we learn to hear the music of the gospel and the dance steps that will allow us to perform with confidence? Practice; it takes practice. We live the gospel principles, keep the commandments, and serve each other. We learn to stay on the bus when we make mistakes and get sent to the back. Most of all we learn to get over our mistakes through repentance and the atonement of Jesus Christ. But most of all we need to realize that others will not know when we make mistakes unless we tell them.

Another thing to remember is even when others know we have made mistakes and they are saying that we should give up, we must stay on the bus and keep dancing. Last night after USU lost their basketball game, the guys on the radio were saying that some of the players should give up on the three point shots. You never give up, just keep shooting until you get your game back. Just keep dancing, even if others are not hearing and feeling the music.

We must not ever think that we are not worth of the Lord’s love. If we don’t feel worthy enough to pray, pray until we feel worthy. Go to the temple and drink in the spirit of the Lord’s House. Remember the sacrament is meant to help us repent. Unless someone that holds priesthood keys has instructed you not to partake of the sacrament, you are worthy. In 3 Nephi the Lord was talking to the 12 disciples who were the leaders of the church when he said that they should not allow anyone who is unworthy to partake of the sacrament; he was not talking to the general membership. It is those who hold the priesthood keys that are responsible for determining worthiness to partake of the sacrament.

Remember what Professor Dumbledore once said to me, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live” (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, p 214). So if you have the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance, I hope you dance.

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