Southern Indiana Living

MAR-APR 2014

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Jason Byerly is a writer, pastor, husband and dad who loves the quirky surprises God sends his way every day. He believes life is much funnier and way cooler than most of us take time to notice. You can catch up with Jason on his blog at www.jasonbyerly.com or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly. J ust when I thought I'd run out of ways to sacrifce my dignity in the name of parenthood, my daugh- ters got a game called "Just Dance Kids" for their Nintendo Wii. This has opened up a whole new world of hu- miliation. I fgured since it had the word kids on the cover it couldn't be that hard. Besides, I was raised on "Pac-Man" and "Donkey Kong". How tough could it be? In case you haven't seen any of the "Just Dance" games, the way they work is simple. The games come loaded with high-energy pop songs, which are led by double-jointed contortionists hopped up on Red Bull. The goal is to try to mimic the danc- ers' moves as closely as you can with- out having a heart attack, punching the player next to you or slinging your game controller through a window. This is easy enough when you're in elementary school but not so much when you're over 40 years old. I started out playing against my wife, who absolutely slaughtered me. Then my eight-year-old took me down hard and fast. And my fve-year-old? Blew me out of the water. "Wow, she got twice the points you did," my wife said. "It wasn't even close." I really appreciated the color com- mentary. I fgured the whole thing was begin- ner's luck, though, so I kept at it. How- ever, dozens of games later, I was still getting smoked. Eventually I did what any mature person would do. I jumped on the Internet to fgure out how I could cheat. No luck. The consensus online was that you either had to do the moves to the beat or you'd lose. No exceptions. No short cuts. No mercy. But seriously, was I really that bad? I was killing everyone at "Mario Kart". Why was this thing so hard? Maybe I was holding the controller wrong. Or was I standing too far from the Wii? Or what if I wore my lucky shoes? Nothing helped. I was too slow, too uncoordinated and just too old. I couldn't get it right. Then I had an idea. One last, desperate idea. The song we played the most had two diferent dancers on it, and you had to choose which one to follow. I'd been fol- lowing the one dancer while my wife and daughters always followed the other one. Could the other dancer have easier moves? There was only one way to fnd out. This last ditch efort was the only hope I had left. And guess what? I won! I fnally won! It was like that the end of the movie "Miracle" when the American hockey team beat the Russians. Everyone started crying, hugging each other and jumping up and down. Well, maybe that was just me. I'll never forget the look on my daugh- ter's face when she said, "Does this mean I can fnally go to bed?" "Yes, honey," I said. "It sure does." I think we all learned some valuable lessons that day. First, losing at video games makes me a little crazy. Second, if you're my child, I will not let you stop playing until I win. And third, if you follow the wrong danc- er, you may end making things much harder on yourself than you need to. If I'd kept copying the wrong dancer, I'd still be on a losing streak. It was only when I chose a better example that I was fnally able to win. We're all following someone's example in our lives. We look at other people who seem to have the life we want and try to mimic their moves. Whether we're trying to follow in the footsteps of successful people we admire or trying to look like the skinny celebrities we see on the cover of magazines, we may be following ex- amples that set us up to fail. Trying to be rich enough, smart enough, attractive enough or spiritual enough can leave us discouraged and ex- hausted. If that's how you feel, consider that it may be time to follow a diferent dancer. More than 2,000 years ago, Jesus in- vited a group of stressed out, worn out people to follow him. He said, "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me, and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-ftting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly" (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG). In other words, following Jesus means living by grace. It means living out of the unconditional love God has for you. It's not about performing or keeping up. It's not about making all the right moves. It's about being loved no matter how many mistakes you make. So if you're tired of trying to live up to other people's standards, if you feel like you're playing a losing game, maybe it's time to follow a new dancer, one who doesn't keep score but sets you free to just dance and to enjoy the life you were made to live. • Just Dance 'Eventually I did what any mature person would do. I jumped on the Internet to fgure out how I could cheat.' March/April 2014 • 50 "Trying to be rich enough, smart enough, attractive enough or spiritual enough can leave us discouraged and exhausted. If that's how you feel, consider that it may be time to follow a different dancer." Everyday Adventures // Jason Byerly MarchApril 2014.indd 50 2/23/14 9:06 PM

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