Zumba Your World, Baby

I had a really nice post half-written for today. Really, I did. It was about sin and things that are not sin, and how to tell the difference, and super fun stuff like that. And it’s not that we don’t need to hear those things or that I won’t write about them in the future, but something happened last night that makes me want to set aside my well-laid plans for now.

I did Zumba.

Notice I didn’t say, “I took a Zumba class.” That would be accurate. But that’s not the big deal. The big deal is that I actually did Zumba.

If you haven’t heard, Zumba is this Latin-dance-your-hiney-off aerobics class that makes you sweat like a dog while testing every ounce of your coordination. I’ve always wished I had the moves of a certain Latina pop star, but alas, my dance-floor IQ more closely resembles an injured antelope running for its life. It’s bad. Real bad.

We get so caught up on our image and the million things we wish we could change about ourselves that we end up suffocating our personality, talent, and zest for life.

So I showed up to this class last night, and my first instinct was to feel self-conscious. Spandex does that. So does a lack of coordination. What if I can’t get the right swing in my hips? What if I get too much swing in my hips? What if I can’t keep up or revert to my injured antelope-ish moves? My fears made me want to turn around and head back to the car.

I looked around the room to see if anyone else looked anxious about what would soon go down. A middle-aged woman with graying hair caught my attention. She wasn’t exactly a picture of Latin suave, if you know what I mean, but she looked genuinely excited to be there. She tugged her hair into a ponytail and then pulled something out of her gym bag. It jingled and sparkled in the room’s fluorescent lights. The “something” was a sheer, purple scarf covered in silver discs that sounded like a tambourine when it moved. It’s possible she may have stolen it from a Babylonian belly dancer; I’m not sure. I watched as she tied it around her waist and gave her hips a lil’ shake to test out the sound—seriously.

Here I was worried about attracting attention, and this lady was so comfortable in her own skin that she was cool with standing out from the crowd if it meant having a little extra fun. I couldn’t help but smile. What was my problem? I could either spend the next hour stressed about what others would think of me, getting it all right and blending in, or I could just be me—semi-coordinated, Salsa-music-loving Jessie—and have a good time.

Our instructor, Coco, took the platform. She cranked up the beat, and I shook the insecurities free from my rusty, rhythm-challenged hips. Did I transform into a So You Think You Can Dance contender? Hardly. But I tell you what, girl—I had a really good time! (So did the lone guy in the group, by the way. Bless his brave soul.)

We need these little reminders here and there, don’t we? As girls, we get so caught up on our image and the million things we wish we could change about ourselves that we end up suffocating our personality, talent, and zest for life. That’s why I love the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases Romans 12:4–6 in The Message:

“Since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.”

Let’s go ahead and be what we were made to be. Yes!

Now, if you’ve spent much time here at LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com, then you know that this passage is not a blank check to live however we want to live. “What we were made to be” is, after all, image-bearers of our King! We squeeze the best out of life when we glorify and enjoy Him. But in order to do that, it sure does help when we break free from all those extra dos and don’ts we’ve made up ourselves and from insecurities we’ve let define us.

So this is my challenge for me and for you this week: Let’s just be us. Life is too short to worry what others will think or to give our insecurities full volume in our heads. Instead, let’s laugh—really laugh—at things we find funny. Let’s actually talk to that girl whom we find slightly intimidating. Let’s take risks, enjoy our quirks and live fully. Let’s Zumba our world, bringing joy and light to the people around us in the name of Christ. (A jingly scarf is optional.)

Tell me: Have you ever let insecurities keep you from doing something that might have been a lot of fun? If you already live a pretty carefree life, what advice would you give someone who has trouble being herself?

About Author

Jessie Minassian is a speaker, blogger, and the author of ten books and Bible studies, including Crushed, Unashamed, and Backwards Beauty. She is the "resident big sis" at LifeLoveandGod.com, a Q&A website for teen girls. Her work for teens and their parents has been featured internationally through outlets such as Focus on the Family, Parenting Today’s Teens, She Reads Truth, Axis, Revive Our Hearts and YouthWorker Journal. She and her husband live and serve at Hume Lake Christian Camps in California, and have two daughters.

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