Earlier this year I scored a couple of free tickets to the ballet, thinking it might be a great, cheap date with my wife, Christy. To be honest, the ballet isn’t really my thing. I spend most of my entertainment time watching movies where things explode. One trip to the ballet, though, and I knew I would totally impress Christy with my cultured, sensitive side.
Besides, how bad could it be? They surely had a concession stand and some kind of half-time, right?
I hadn’t given it much thought until the night before the performance. But then, Friday evening, I began to suffer from what I can only describe as severe ballet anxiety. I knew there would be a lot of dancing and men in tights, both of which make me uncomfortable.
I checked the tickets. The ballet had a high-brow French or Italian name I’d never heard of before.
What had I gotten myself into? I had no idea how long this thing would last or if I would even be able to follow it.
So, in my panic, I googled the name printed on the tickets, “Coppellia.” It turns out the story is a kind of Pinnochio meets Frankenstein tale about a creepy old doctor who makes a life-sized doll and tries to bring her to life.
Oh well, I thought, maybe at the end something would explode.
Long story short, we got to the ballet, and I still didn’t know what to expect. I have to say every man should go to the ballet at least once just to feel good about himself. I don’t care how much of a sissy you are, when you see a bunch of guys on stage prancing around in tights, suddenly you feel as tough as Rambo.
The sad reality is that most of those dancers are probably so athletic that they could beat me up, but watching them on stage somehow helped my self-esteem.
The performance started, and guess what? No words. None at all. Just a lot of graceful dancing, broad gestures and pantomime. I think somewhere in the back of my head, I knew they didn’t talk at the ballet, but I’d forgotten it.
Now, what was that story about? I tried my best to remember all that I’d read on Wikipedia, and gradually I began to piece the narrative together. I was so glad I’d done my homework, because if I hadn’t known the story going into it, I would have been totally lost.
I could picture myself sitting in the theater watching a flurry of action unfolding on the stage with absolutely no idea what it was about.
I never thought I’d say this, but some days my life reminds me of the ballet. Constant motion, whirling and twirling, characters flying on and off the stage. I’m pretty sure there’s a plot unfolding, but I have no one to explain it to me.
You ever have a day like that? Maybe you get blindsided by some relational conflict that you never saw coming. Or you pick up a newspaper and read about a crime so brutal you can’t shake the memory of it for days. Or maybe you get some unexpected news from your doctor or your boss or a spouse who doesn’t want to be married to you anymore.
The stage of your life is flooded with action, but you can’t for the life of you figure it out. I’ve had a couple of weeks like that lately, weeks where events unfolded that left me thinking, “Where the heck did that come from?” It’s those kinds of weeks that can leave you discouraged and confused.
But, on days like this, I am once again glad I’ve read the story. You see, there is a plot unfolding in your life and mine. There is a greater story. It’s a story of a God who loves me, and of a perfect world that’s gone terribly wrong. It’s a world where I’ve gone terribly wrong. Yet, as unbelievable as it sounds, this same God has come to set things right, to restore me and all of my relationships, starting with my relationship with Him. It’s a story of grace and love overcoming evil.
Against the background of that story, I can endure anything, even three hours of men in tights. The funny thing is that I actually ended up enjoying the ballet. The skill and artistry at work were undeniable. But without knowing the plot? That would have been a different story altogether.