Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How Zumba and the New Kid Could Change the World

When the last time you did something for the first time? Something new and unknown and potentially awkward? A situation where you weren't in control and didn't really know what was going on?

In my world, that doesn't happen often. But tonight I attended my first-ever Zumba class. It was slightly terrifying. About 45 minutes into this craziness of loud music and more coordination that I can every hope to attain, it dawned on me that I was getting in more than just a good workout - my eyes were being opened to a person in my youth group I don't often think enough about - the new kid. The kid who has heard about our youth group, but has never shown up. The kid who wasn't raised in church, doesn't know his Bible, and doesn't think he belongs in a group of kids who do. The kid who isn't sure how to act, where to sit, or what to do when he leaves.

Tonight...I was that kid. Here's how it goes in five short acts:

Act 1: Roll your windows down and cruise.
It wasn't the first time I'd ever heard of Zumba. It wasn't the first time I'd been invited. It wasn't even the first time I'd had intentions of going. But it was the first time I actually went. I called the BFFL, made sure she'd be there, climbed in the Jeep, and hit the road.

Chances are that new kid has heard of your youth group. He's been invited a time or two, and maybe legitimately planned to go before but didn't make it. But tonight he decided to go to church with the guys, and now he's here, so what?

Act 2: Shake what your mama gave you.
I walked into a room of seventy women, a sea of neon tank tops and spandex pants and hips that don't lie. Yikes. I was extra thankful that BFFL came along. She's attended Zumba at other churches before, but never at this one. We grab a spot in the back of the room and try to keep up. My motha-from-anotha-grandmotha is in the room too, but she heads more toward the front...the last place I want to be when I have no idea what I'm doing. I want to hang in the back where I can watch everyone else, don't have to worry about being seen, and can fake it till I make it. Or break a hip.

That's where the new kid is at, too. A mass of people he doesn't know, dressed in a style other than his own. He's clinging to the one person he knows, and taking everything in from the back of the room where he can see and not be seen.

Act 3: Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, yeah.
So we begin. I feel ridiculous. The only dance I'm familiar with is Dutch clogging, and let's be real, I moved out of Holland when I was 5. I can't see the instructor, so I watch everyone else and try to keep up. Sometimes I've got it, sometimes I could not possibly be more off-beat. I get in the groove and it's fun. Between songs I chat with a few acquaintances I haven't seen in a while. And then we hit about minute 45, and I am DONE....except we still have fifteen minutes left. At this point, my arms are doing their own thing, and all my brain power is concentrating on is how Zumba is like youth ministry, and how that would make a great blog post. Clearly more of a writer than a dancer...

The new kid feels about the same. A little silly, a little unsure, but he's having fun. He's having casual conversation with a few students and feeling a little more comfortable. But then we get to the heart of the message, and he's having a little trouble tracking. He's wondering if he made the right decision in coming tonight. He could have been out skating...

Act 4: Leave some butt sweat on the seat.
Class is over. I'm one of those girls who just can't break a sweat for the life of me, but that is not a problem tonight. I sneak into the back of the congregational meeting going on in the next room. I catch up on all my social media on my phone while the pastor talks, and then I decide to peace out. But oh no, on the plastic seat beneath me...that lovely line of butt sweat. Gross.

The new kid takes off when the night is over, but chances are he's headed somewhere. And maybe where he's going, something the youth pastor said is sticking with him like a pair of sweaty yoga pants on my tush. And when he leaves that place, he's made a mark. He didn't even realize the night impacted him that much, but now there is a seed in his heart that is changing the way he looks at people and places, changing what he does and where he goes.

Act 5: I like to move it, move it.
And so then I get a call from my tall friend. He's going for a run, and I decide to join him. The fact that my five strides equal his one doesn't matter. Zumba kicked my butt, but that's a moot point. I'm dressed for the occasion, the adrenaline is still pumping, and it's a beautiful spring night in Michigan. Let's run.

The fire in the new kid is sparked. Another "churchy" friend calls him up and wants to hang, and this time the new kid is all over it. Whatever it was that just happened felt good, and he wants to feel that again.

When was the last time you did something for the first time? Throwing myself in the world of Zumba served as an encouraging reminder to me of what it's like to be the new kid, and what an impact can be made in his life if we do things right at 901west. I'm probably never going to become a Zumba instructor or run a marathon. But new kid? He might just change the world.

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