Garth Brooks Live and Why The Dance is One of the best songs ever

I’m not exactly a country music fan.

Don’t get me wrong, I like lots of country music – I know every word to “Rodeo” and saw Tim McGraw in concert back when he had a handlebar mustache. However, I’ve never purchased a country album, or poster, or cowboy boots, and I grew up in the Pacific Northwest…not exactly the heart of “country.” We happen to rent a house on a farm, but we don’t work the land ourselves – it is all rented out. I would like to think some of the farmer ethic is rubbing off on me, but I can’t be too sure.

This is all meant to be a disclaimer for my recent Garth Brooks concert experience.

My husband knows Garth’s albums like the back of his hand.

I know the words to “The Hits.”

Jake has been waiting to see Garth Brooks live since he was seven years old.

I thought the concert would be a fund date night.

Jake would rather see Garth Brooks live than go to Rome for the weekend.

I gotta go with Rome on this one.

That being said, this last Sunday we sat in Row 17 at the Moda Center for Garth Brooks’ Comeback Tour.  It was by far one of the best concerts I’ve ever gone to ( U2 in 2005 will likely forever top the list). Why so great? The man is crazy! His voice is nearly flawless after all these years. He sings all the old stuff.  He comes out full throttle and he doesn’t let up, seamlessly going from crowd-pleasers like “Baton Rouge” and “Rodeo” to the unforgettable ballads like “The River” and “Unanswered Prayers.” They are all fantastic, really. But there is one song that stands out above the rest  and not just among Garth Brooks songs – “The Dance” written by Tony Arata.

I didn’t like “The Dance” much when I was young.

I didn’t get it at all.

Every time I heard it I would roll my eyes.

For those who don’t know the lyrics:

Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared ‘neath the stars alone
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you’d ever say goodbye

And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I’d of had to miss the dance

Holding you I held everything
For a moment wasn’t I a king
But if I’d only known how the king would fall
Hey who’s to say you know I might have chanced it all

And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I’d of had to miss the dance

Yes my life is better left to chance
I could have missed the pain but I’d of had to miss the dance

I don’t care for it as a love story gone bad kind of song.  But there are loves that are lost, lives that are lost, and that is a different thing.  Garth Brooks had a great vision for his music video, using images of JFK and Martin Luther King Jr.  The video helped me to get it.  I am not a proponent of “chance,” at least not the way we currently understand it. I am a proponent of trusting the design, the weaver of life making sense of it all, both the good and the bad. One of my favorite books is “The Grand Weaver” by Ravi Zacharias, one of the greatest Christian apologetists of our time. In the book he writes:

“Only if you are willing to pray sincerely for God’s will to be done and are willing to live the life apportioned to you will you see the breathtaking view of God that he wants you to have, through the windows he has placed in your life. You cannot always live on the mountaintop, but when you walk through the valley, the memory of the view from the mountain will sustain you and give you the strength to carry you through.”

The greatest lesson of my adult life is to accept the life apportioned to me. Don’t fight it. Don’t wish it different. Don’t wallow in being wronged or afflicted. Instead of wishing the pain away, grieve it fully, forgive it fully, and find a new strength that could only be found through that specific refining. Swallow the pain whole and transform the wrong into greatness. Great compassion. Great mercy. Great reconciliation.

To love well requires risk. C.S. Lewis said it perfectly when he said,

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

In my quest for a softer heart, I recognize that I am opening myself up to more pain. But I am also opening myself up to life in all its glory. Here is to trusting God that this dance is worth dancing – fully, with abandon. Here is to trusting God when the dance is over.

Seeing Garth Brooks Live and Why “The Dance” is One of the Best Songs Ever Written

3 thoughts on “Seeing Garth Brooks Live and Why “The Dance” is One of the Best Songs Ever Written

  1. Awesome writing, Chrysten. I can honestly say from experience how glad I am that I didn’t know how the dance would end when cancer cut in, but how grateful I am for not missing it.

    Keep up the good writing. You are gifted.

    • Marlys, thank you so much for your encouragement! It means a great deal coming from a mentor and writer I’ve long respected. How you have shown Christ in the midst of heartache and saying goodbye to Gary will always be an example kept at the forefront of my mind. Sincerely, you have been such a light and I’m glad that didn’t end when I graduated high school.

  2. Beautiful Chrysten,

    Thank you for sharing the gift that God has bestowed on you with the rest of us. I know our lives our complicated and busy, more often than not, but how beautifully intertwined is all of the chaos? It is divinely purposeful and forces me to appreciate our joys as we have been given the grace and diligence to be refined through the tough stuff. It is through his grace that we grow deeper in our faith in Him and our trust in one another that our loves together will not fail. Praying for continued guidance and peaceful perspective on this journey together. God Bless you, my dear wife.

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