Dare To Dance (almost) Naked

In 2nd Samuel 6 David dances with joy before the Lord almost naked! What does this have to do with self-care? We are talking about the kind of self-care that includes having our eyes so fixed on God and His faithfulness that we don’t worry about what people think. Many of us feel like people are watching, judging, and evaluating us and it steals our joy. Feeling under scrutiny creates incredible pressure. It can make us feel like we are shackled to the opinions and perceptions of other people. Rather than living free, we find ourselves imprisoned by shame and without joy.
Single mom, Elizabeth, joins Robert Beeson and Kimberley Mitchell to talk about finding freedom to live joyfully before God. As single parents, we can be preoccupied with getting things right. We overthink things, analyze everything, and get self-critical, while trying to make sure we don’t drop any of the balls we are juggling.

Instead, God created us for joy and freedom, to live with complete trust in Him, like innocent children who ran to Jesus without any concern except to be near Him. King David found himself so enthralled with gratitude at what God had done, He stripped off his royal robes and danced almost naked in the streets. It says in the scripture that he danced “with all his might.” This was a man after God’s own heart.

As we think about self-care, what would it look like for solo parents to let go of convention and to embrace joy, for us and for our kids? What if we lived not caring about what other people think? What if we lived for an Audience of One?  

Elizabeth shares that to live with abandon is something that has been difficult for her. She has to intentionally remember to let go. Becoming a mom has helped her to do that.  Seeing her child’s sense of carefree wonder reminds her of what that looks like and what it means but she still often gets caught up in her daily struggles. The shame, the healing process, and the things she’s dealt with throughout her life can give her tunnel vision that blinds her to what God is doing around her. She finds herself needing to take time to look around and notice the gifts He gives with wonder.

Living with abandon isn’t being thoughtless, inconsiderate, or living without boundaries or limits. It’s being able to live freely, from a place of joy, unburdened by shame or an abundance of worries, trusting in God for salvation and help. David danced before God with “all his might”, consumed with joy in the Lord. Sometimes our understanding of God can become stale because we keep him in a box. We can start to interact with Him transactionally, instead of relationally.
Letting go of control and trying to hold it all together can get in the way of enjoying time with God, celebrating who He is, and how He is present in our lives. Guilt, shame, and our own feelings of failure can pile up and weigh us down.  We don’t always approach God with freedom and hope. Instead, we view Him and our connection to him through a lens of shame that takes away from our joy.

Elizabeth has chosen to shift that paradigm through intentionally choosing a different perspective. Last year while walking in the woods, she decided to look around and view the world through the eyes of her five year old son. She touched things. She stopped and looked at a butterfly up close. Anything interesting, like a leaf with unique markings, became an opportunity to look at nature as if she had never seen it before. She’s also chosen to let go and be carefree while dancing with him in the living room, being silly, and having fun. At a birthday party recently, she danced and celebrated with joy and a desire to be fully present, not taking the moments with friends for granted.

Part of self-care is letting yourself experience the delight we have in God without worrying about what other people think. David was so overwhelmed with God’s goodness; he didn’t care what people thought. He danced in the streets, celebrating without his royal robes on. David wanted to connect with God as a man, not with the trappings of his “kingship” between them.

As parents, our kids can help us remember what it’s like to be carefree and to respond with innocence, apart from the weight of our responsibilities, fears, and mistakes. Our kids can remind us how to be present. Despite the stress of the pandemic and other current events, the sun still rises and sets, the flowers still bloom, and leaves on trees still change colors. There are still reasons to laugh. God is still with us.

Can you imagine what it would be like if we could all walk in abandon in the gift of joy God has given us? What would the ripple effect be like in our families and in the world? Self-care is infectious. It impacts those around us. When we are full of joy, it affects everyone we interact with.
Single parent life is difficult, no doubt about it, but that’s all the more reason we need to recognize the playful side of God and return to a delight and innocence in Him. Instead of going through life on edge, constantly uptight, we need to remember we were never meant to carry our cares on our own. We can bring our worries to Him. Surrender can help us embrace more joy. We can have more freedom by giving our troubles to Him and letting Him carry them.

Kimberley shares she grew up in eastern Canada with parents who loved God more than anything else. They laughed a lot as a family growing up. Kimberley shares, she believes that God delights in our laughter, and that it saddens his heart when we don’t enjoy the life He’s given us. Instead of walking around as if we have no victory and as if we are still in shackles, we honor God and the gifts He gives us when we live with freedom and joy.

Robert grew up in Zululand in South Africa. His dad was a hospital administrator in a remote area. They lived on the edge of a compound near a fenced enclosure. Kids from local tribes would walk past who had nothing. They made toys out of sticks and yet they had so much joy. They were happy with what they had. If we believe God has redeemed all things and has called us to himself, that he has broken the chains we are held down by, then we have every reason to walk around celebrating. God has restored us. We must live from that posture. Not just for our own self-care but also for our kids, our families, our communities, and the world.

Robert says his family loves to go to Disney. The closest he gets to complete abandon is when he rides the roller coaster, “Big Thunder Mountain”. He can ride it over and over again, screaming loudly with exhilaration every time. His kids love watching him enjoy it. We all need to find areas where we feel carefree and happy, like a kid again. Is there a Big Thunder Mountain in your life???

Elizabeth makes up crazy songs with her son that she sings in funny accents. She feels so comfortable with him. There is nothing she can do to make him not love her. They both can be completely themselves and have so much fun together, without reservation or holding back. This is such a perfect picture of who God is to us. His love is unconditional.

Laughter like this is so important but we can overthink everything and get in our own way. We need to be intentional to not take ourselves so seriously and to find things to laugh about, not because life isn’t serious but because we know the answer to all those things. Difficulties affect us in the immediate, but they aren’t the end of the story. God gets the last word.

In the movie, Chariots of Fire, the character of Eric Liddell says, “When I run, I sense God’s pleasure.” While this is just a line from the script, the idea holds true: God wants us to find joy in our lives and in our purpose in Him. He created us for joy and fullness of life. Kimberley shares that when she sings, whether on a stage, in front of people, or alone in her kitchen, she senses God’s presence and feels such joy and freedom. We each have areas of our lives, or things we do, that bring us that feeling of close connection to God and to who He made us to be – the moments we dance “naked” before Him, full of joy.

Dancing almost naked is embracing our humanity and our vulnerability, letting it all hang out. It’s bringing all of who we are to God. Instead of getting caught up in our efforts, our image, or our performance, we can go before God honestly without pretentions and just be with Him. We can bring that same kind of presence to our kids. We can choose to be with them, setting aside the cares of life, and decide to be fully present with them.

In the biblical story in Luke 10 of Mary and Martha found, Jesus came to their home for a meal. Mary chose to sit with Jesus and listen to Him as Martha scurried around, working. Martha complains that her sister isn’t helping her. Jesus replies, “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Jesus says Mary chose the better thing and He is reminding us to do the same – to find the gift of being present with Him.

When we think about the Garden of Eden, everything was beautiful and in order, as God intended, until Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was then that they began to hide from God. God came looking for them as they covered themselves in shame. Their new awareness caused them to distance themselves from God when His intention has always been to be close to us. We were created to be fully vulnerable and present with Him. He is still calling us to that intimate relationship. Psalm 34:5 says, “Those who look to Him are radiant with joy. Their faces are never covered with shame.” This is our heritage – this freedom to connect to God and be close to Him without shame or reservation and full of joy.

We can choose the posture we walk through life in. Today is a good day to start. Look to God. Let His love and forgiveness fill you with joy that makes you radiant, free of shame. The enemy may try to trick us, lie to us, and rob us of victory but God has the last word. Joy and shame cannot coexist. We can walk forward in life remembering who we are and whose we are. We were made for His pleasure. When God created mankind, he saw what he had made, and he called us good. Walking in that truth is self-care. From that place of confidence and trust in Him, we can dance with joy before Him.

“This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24

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