Book Review: Dancing With God by Irene Alexander from @SPCKPublishing

Ringelreihen by Franz Stuck

For some reason, people find it hard to believe that I had dancing lessons as a young girl 🙂 But I did – both ballet and tap, and though I can dance no more, the love stays with me.

So, I like both the idea conjured up by dancing with God and the description of Dancing With God on the SPCK Website.

Dancing with God is a book that made me think ‘Why didn’t someone tell me this years ago’?  (Well, maybe they did and I wasn’t hearing it!)

The book focusses on finding true freedom, that we can dance with God – “learning grace, accepting brokenness and self-forgiveness”.  Whilst “becoming aware of what hinders our progress: Judgement, self-criticism, shame and seeking others approval” (from the blurb).  It does indeed do what it says on the tin.

The message is interspersed with creative retellings of bible stories.  These stand out and give a way into the insights of the book.  For me, they achieve the authors aim of getting to and opening up feelings and emotions.

Initially I thought all Irene Alexander has to say is good theory, but where are the practical ways to attain this?   But as the book went on, they unfolded – they are not so much practical ways, but ways we could encounter God more deeply – and meet the depths of his love.  It’s between you and God.

The other question that was being raised in my mind, especially in the first half of the book was, ‘What if you’re living this broken and exposed spirituality, but others aren’t?’  Does it matter that they have the potential to break you more?  But I came to the point that actually, I guess not, if that’s where you are, but it can be difficult to live amongst people you don’t trust.  It is a challenge to be the only/first one living this way.  But vulnerability is the point!

I was not so sure about some of the comments on depression, that seem to suggest it can be solved by “getting the anger out”.  They made me feel quite uncomfortable that was a simplistic understanding and solution.  Maybe others who have lived with depression may have a view on that?

For me, the main message of this book, and the difference with lots of books, is it’s not necessarily about changing ourselves; it is much more about learning to live with ourselves – shadow side and all. “embracing shadow is only way to become whole”  (p112).  Learning to live with the authentic me, not living with paradigm of evaluation.  Then we can also accept and respect others as they are.

This is a message that needs to be heard…  We don’t need to be “keeping up with the Jones” or even living up to some projected image of perfection, self-imposed or otherwise – Jesus has done away with that kind of measuring stick.  It’s no longer about what we have and haven’t done, just that we are.

The reality is: learning the steps may be easy – perfecting the dance may take a lifetime.

All in all this is an interesting and very helpful book.  Now to live it out and learn to dance with God in a way that I can’t dance in physical reality.

I’m aware I’ve very much read this through my own personal lens – but then I picked the book because I thought it might have something to say to where I’m at…

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