Dancing on the Edge

I dance on the edge.

Many of my churched friends tend to watch my life with fear and trepidation that one day, I will spin off into oblivion, while a lot of my unchurched friends wonder why I remain so inhibited.

I’m an outsider.

Several of my Christian friends see me spending time with non-Christians and murmur among themselves that I’m “backslidden” or that I’ve “fallen away from Christ.”

My non-Christian friends sometimes feel that I can’t possibly understand how alienated they feel and how much they dislike The Church or why they are indifferent to God or matters of faith.

I don’t really fit into either camp. And so I dance along the fringes—loving Jesus and loving people, but never really knowing how to articulate that to either group.

Many years ago, I was a dancer. One Wednesday evening, at a church service, I felt a compulsion to dance during the singing. I didn’t really care if anyone saw me. I wasn’t looking for attention. There was just this passion inside of me that needed to express itself to God. And so as the music played and as the people sang, I went to the back of the sanctuary and danced until one of the wives of one of the deacons came back and told me to sit down and stop being disruptive. Funny, I think God was enjoying seeing and feeling my passion for Him. But it discomforted others and so, when asked, I stopped. Because who am I to make people uncomfortable by showing my love for God? Today, I’m disgusted with myself for that and I wish I still had that young, innocent passion that just wanted to show in any and every way possible that I love God and that I worship Him.

And right now, reading this, there are religious people thinking about how out of order I was to dance in church.

And there are unchurched people thinking about how weird and awkward and ridiculous it was that I wanted to.

I don’t fit in.

Yesterday, I drove miles down I-40 West, crying, because I know a lot of people on both sides that don’t fit in, either. And I know how much they hurt.

I know people who have been beaten and kicked and neglected and unloved so much and so often in their lives that they don’t believe God exists. Or they think that if He does exist, He’s never done a damn thing for them.

These feelings are valid.

I remember a song from my childhood…

Jesus is the answer for the world today…

The world doesn’t believe that anymore. Why should they when they see The Church standing in an ivory tower, pretending to have all of the answers, while alienating everyone that doesn’t meet their “holy” standard?

The Church—The Selfish Church—found a loving God who, in His hands, holds peace and joy and healing. And they tried to put Him in a cage to keep everyone else out. They tried to horde the treasure.

The world has been force-fed lies about God. That He is a caged God. Or that He doesn’t care about them. Or that they aren’t worthy of all of the gifts He has. Or that they don’t want anything He has.

One day, the Selfish Church is going to answer for helping to enable the world to believe that.

Today, I went to church and stood between men and women, Hispanics and Anglos, straight folks and gay folks, alcoholics and addicts and farmers and teachers and lawyers and together, without judging each other, we worshiped God and sang, “When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!” The deacons stood in the back and hugged people instead of judging them. Everyone was welcomed. God came in and hung out with us. For that hour, I wasn’t an outsider. For that hour, I wasn’t judged. For that hour, we were all loved. And in my heart, I danced.

About Sarah Salter

Comments

  1. Beautiful, Sarah. You hit on so much here from a heart that’s bursting. If more of us felt this way and saw this, what would we have? The family of God as it’s supposed to be. I think a lot of people are getting to this point, and I think as more of us do, we’re going to start seeing a real revival…

  2. Sarah Salter says:

    Jodie, thanks for coming by and dancing on the edge with me! :-)

  3. Nancy P says:

    Sarah I relate so much to this. If I could find a church like the one you just went to I think I would go back. I do know there are some here in PDX but I guess I am saying if I found one close by. Several years ago I heard good things about a local church and decided to give it a try. Well the Sunday I happened to go, the topic involved the evils of rock and roll music. Oy Vey! I didn’t go back….
    I have long felt that I do not fit in anywhere.

  4. Sarah Salter says:

    Nancy, when I get out there, I’m going to look for a church like I went to this morning. If I find one, you’re cordially invited to come with me anytime you like. :-)

  5. Kerri (Earringopia) says:

    Just from a writing standpoint, this is beautifully written. It makes my heart glad (and dance even) to see something so beautifully crafted. I so rarely can say that about most of the writing I read.

    On a personal level, I’m so glad you found a place to be where everyone is God’s child, no matter who they are, and it’s the contrast between other services you’ve attended, people you’ve known, and this service that gave you the ability to write this outstanding piece.

  6. Sarah Salter says:

    Thank you, so much, Kerri! It’s a joy to share my heart when folks like you encourage me so much!

  7. Marissa (MPdaCNA) says:

    Uhm you haven’t been to Church with me! We sing, dance, clap, laugh, cry, watch movie clips, hold each other up. I wouldn’t have it any other way. You’re all invited to join me.

  8. Sarah Salter says:

    Marissa, next time I’m out there, I may just take you up on that! :-)

  9. Awesome, love the post. It so spoke to me. That is what I encounter while at church. The church I grew up in we were suppose to be good little soldiers and do what the adults told us. Screw that.. anywhere in the Bible did it say Jesus went around scolding people for rejoicing? Nope.. Rejoice on people..

  10. Sarah Salter says:

    Good point, Malcolm! I can’t think of Jesus ever scolding people for rejoicing. :-)

  11. Yes, yes, yes….love you my God loving, non-judging friend! We cannot be a witness if we stick up our noses at people who don’t meet “our standards”. Why would anyone want to learn about the grace of God if we can’t extend a little grace ourselves?

    I was at the beach this weekend and found myself feeling like an “outcast” among the “rich folk”…(okay, not to stereotype but these people did appear to have more money than us). We were eating at a popular restaurant (3 kids in tow in our jeans/tees) and for the first time, other than in a bathing suit, I felt uncomfortable at the beach! Why do we compare ourselves to others this way and feel like we are not good enough to be somewhere when we work hard for the money we do have and have the right to spend it where ever the heck we want???

    I wonder if non-believers feel the same way? Like they have to BE perfect in order for God to love them? That’s ridiculous!! I know as a believer I still feel “not good enough” sometimes, but I know the truth! It really is time to be ourselves, the way God made us (rock n’ roll lovin’ and all Nancy) and love others with all their imperfections. We’re not the ones in charge of perfecting their lives anyway. That’s God’s job! Our job is to WALK IN LOVE!

    Thanks for having the courage to write this Sarah!!!

  12. Sarah Salter says:

    “Why would anyone want to learn about the grace of God if we can’t extend a little grace ourselves?” — Yes, Mary! Very true! We’re supposed to be a reflection of Him and if we act snotty and hateful, then people are going to think He is! Thank you for your support and friendship, Mary! BIG HUGS to you!

  13. Great post…and I am so right there with you. While I still hold some of my Evangelical beliefs, I consider myself a “recovering Evangelical”. Keep on dancing…grace is found in the dance! And I am so glad you have found a church there that provides the beautiful tapestry of people you described!!!

  14. Sarah Salter says:

    Chris, it’s not so bad being on the edge when I have folks like you here with me. :-)

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