I can’t really dance, but it’s okay.

Last week as we were preparing for the wedding, a friend said that he was praying that “the love you have for your daughter would remind you of His great love for you.”  

There is a tradition at weddings these days called the “father-daughter dance.” In it, a father and daughter, well, um, dance. Which is, I suppose, fun if there is a history of the two dancing. However, if they have never danced together, and if the dad has never danced, this tradition is dangerous. To ignore it means saying that there is a problem between father and daughter. To pursue it means awkwardness.

Early in our conversation on this tradition, Hope and I decided that we would look at our history together and figure out a way to celebrate the hours we spent riding together in the car. To youth group, to lessons, from school, to set construction nights. Sitting side by side, looking at the scenery, asking tough questions without having to look at each other shaped our relationship. That and the radio. We would roll down the windows and turn up the radio. Or the Veggietales tape.

It was a simple decision. Our dance would be a car ride, and the soundtrack would be “The pirates who don’t do anything.

Our Father resists doing what isn’t in his character but delights in doing what is. 

veggie-1We stood in the middle of the dance floor. We had Andrew read an intro. And just before the music started, I got two chairs, Hope got a Wii steering wheel, and we sat down.

And started to talk and sing along with the music.

veggie-2But then I nodded to Andrew, who brought four more chairs and lined them up behind us. I explained to Hope my addition to the dance. Nancy was going to sit in the second row. Andrew and Allie were going to sit in the third row. And I was going to invite Dan to join us. You can see Hope’s response in the photo.

When we decide to go along for the ride, our Father may have delightful surprises.

veggie-4I added the rest of the family to our dance because the Swanson family has spent a lot of time in cars. Most summers included 12-hour drives to northern Wisconsin. Andrew played a lot of soccer. We went to church a lot. The idea of having the car ride dance include just Hope and I ignored the importance of community.

We aren’t the only ones that our Father is taking for the ride.


At the end of the ride, I walked to the other side of the dance gazebo and found Dan. I handed him the steering wheel and led him over to the driver’s seat. I got into the second row next to Nancy.

It was a simple way to show that I’m delighted to be welcoming a new companion to Hope’s life, a new member of our family.

Our Father delights in inviting new people into the  journey and into new relationships with us.

Obviously, the dance was a metaphor for our family life. But as I was listening back to the story in my head, I saw those other implications, those ways my love for Hope help me understand God’s love for me.

And the request of my friend was answered.


Huge thanks to Lindsey Etter, who happened to have her phone out when we started. 





7 thoughts on “I can’t really dance, but it’s okay.

  1. Ellen K.

    I love weddings, but when I’m not invited to one, it’s not really that big a deal. I get it–there’s limited space in your venue, budget, life, time, circles and not everyone is close enough to be invited. When I found out that Hope was getting married though, I thought, “That’s a wedding I’ll be sad to not be invited to.” Hope is a profound, thoughtful woman (of whom you are rightfully proud) and I was confident that her wedding would be carefully thought out, beautiful, and unique. I was right. It was. I’m confident that her marriage will be those things as well. Thanks for sharing glimpses of that day and your family. I’ve enjoyed reading them.


    1. Jon Swanson

      It was a delightful day. You know how sometimes I think, “I wish I would have” or “Oh man, that was awful.”? Didn’t have a trace of those. Remarkable. Thanks, Ellen.


  2. Jeanne Smith

    I’m sorry I missed the intro to this unique dance. When I saw it I thought it was a beautiful picture of how Dan is taking over the steering wheel in her life and the family must now take the back seat. I pray that they always stay on the path that is the Lord’s will. It’s the only safe route through life.(Dan’s mother)


    1. Jon Swanson

      Thanks for stopping by to read, Jeanne! I thought about adding another “car” for your family, and then having Dan move over, and then start their own car. But the time was too short and that metaphor too complicated. But it will be good knowing that they have two families praying for them now.


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