Originally published Sunday, 28 August 2016.
I’ve told the story before about a giraffe named Gerald who dreams of being a dancer with the other animals in the jungle. Gerald has the desire but his ability to dance like the others isn’t quite up to par. His knees are crooked and his legs are thin. All the other animals mock him when he approaches the jungle dance floor. His swagger (as they say in jungle-eeze) isn’t zig-zaging like the others.
Gerald took lessons, studied the moves, more grooves, and eventually developed his own style. One day, on jr.audition day, Gerald showed up prepared to zig and zag in a confident direction. After many hours on the dirt floor, he perfected a secret move all his own and still wasn’t chosen.
As he lumbered off in a dejected fashion, the lonely lanky spotted giraffe felt rejection from his “wanna-be’s”. Downcast, he met up with his cricket friend who chirped “Gerald, you just need a different song.” Gerald’s heart lightened a little as he took the cricket’s advice. He retreated to his own little jungle corner to let his heart dance free.
Soon, Gerald was prancing and sashaying once again.
Suddenly, a crowd gathered in amazement and recognized Gerald could dance after all. All he needed was his own little space be brave and bold, freedom to unleash his rhythm by the light of the moon.
It might seem strange to you to tell you I think about Gerald often. I know how this kind of rejection feels. What the story doesn’t tell you is Gerald had a lot of doubt going into dancing. So much doubt he wanted to give up. He wanted to do anything else instead of dancing. Gerald also had a big heart to teach others to dance but he couldn’t lead out because he felt unqualified.
The story didn’t mention how Gerald was faithful to his craft. There were lots of practices he only watched from the outlying and surrounding undergrowth as the other animals gracefully swayed. Gerald watched in wonder at their magical skill. He longed to be included and seen by them. But shamefully, self-doubt kept coming against him. Opposition came in the jeers and taunts of his so-called friends. Provocation came from his inner critic. He was discouraged and just wanted to give up.
Why does this story move me so much? It has a happy ending like most children books do and Gerald found the courage to recover a dream. For me, it also speaks of how we should never give up uncovering who God created us to be. If you are honest with yourself, wouldn’t you admit you want to belong somehow?
The search for purpose sometimes leads a person to unexpected places. Michael Hyatt says to do “what makes you cry” in life. What I’ve found so far is dreams are full of hard work and lots of practice. There’s lots of pieces to making a dream work. There’s even more work to get someone to notice your dance in a jungle full of excellent dancers.
So why should we try? If Micheal Hyatt were here now I would ask him, “What’s the point?” It doesn’t matter if you are a musician or not, please watch Victor Wooten’s talk. His lessons about life, success, creativity, learning, passion, permission and smiling are profound.
In using my creative confidence, I still have some lessons to learn. Like Gerald, my dance doesn’t look like others, but mine is a worthy and weighty move . I have also learned to not lean on feelings but to dance anyway. Taking action on an idea requires applied practice and a dedication to stay the course. Dancing takes courage, skill, and ability. It takes guts to put your best foot forward. It’s risky, hard and you may lose. But… you will never know discovery unless you try. It’s never to late to be what you might have been.
What lies behind us, and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.
Speaking metaphorically, life is a dance. We all have a unique design made by a God without rival. And when an incomparable God has placed His uniqueness within, it’s our best response to practice and sing in the octave He gave you. There’s no two dancers the same, each are unique in every way. And finally, God just loves it I show up for practice, even with my deficiencies.
So where are you in this dancer’s world?