When #1 Son graduated from high school and embarked on a summer of discovery among a challenging drum and bugle corps, our home got very quiet very quick. As a percussionist, our home was always filled with noise, music, and the sounds of youth. I felt such joy for my children as they began to dance to their own beat. But the empty nest became too quiet for this Mama to bear.

I never cried so much in my life. But wasn’t this a joyous time? It was supposed to be. But somewhere in the midst of my celebrating their remarkable seasons and dancing before the LORD with them, I had forgotten how to dance before the Lord without them.

I had always wanted to learn how to tap dance. I even looked into it that lonely summer. But the thought of my size 11 wides sounding more like a car backfiring caused me to think otherwise.

I wanted so badly to keep dancing for joy, but couldn’t muster the courage to dance on my own. How do you keep dancing when your regular dancing partners have changed studios?

I decided to step out and embrace life with other courageous women doing the very same thing.  And I got a Stephen Minister.  This beautiful woman of faith challenged me to read Psalm 119 three times a day.  And we shared a season of Dolly Parton’s famous words from Steel Magnolias, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”  I was also part of a small group of women who met at a fellow empty-nester’s home as we shared stories, laughed our heads off, and shared life among the chips and dip.

Women in the midst of crisis and tragedy have taught me that life’s dance of joy can be done in the shadows as well as the sunshine. Dancing with tears is OK, as long as I keep on dancing before the Lord…in gratitude, in hope, in honor, in worship.

Have the strength and interest to press past the loneliness, past the disease, past the crisis, past the tragedy, and past the loss to fellowship with others.  The scriptures record joy and tears in tandem.

When I spent a season painfully transitioning in ministry, I remembered my need to dance before the LORD.  And I remembered the strength I gained from the fellowship of other women.  When I would have rather stayed in bed, I planned something to do with someone who loved me and who I loved every single day.  I gleaned from their dancing until I could dance on my own again.  And I danced through the psalms.

Psalm 30:5b  “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

When was the last time you had to keep on dancing?