Breaking Bad

by Joanie Butman

My husband and I spent last weekend in Richmond attending a debutante-like event for our daughter. A 100-year tradition, Ring Dance, “is a one-night celebration to commemorate the academic accomplishments of Westhampton College junior women.” Since its inception, dads come from all over to escort their daughters down the palatial staircase of the landmark Jefferson Hotel. This year the powers that be decided this format excluded girls without fathers or without the means to have their fathers attend, so the men were eliminated from the procession. It may sound overly dramatic, but many girls and their parents were upset over that decision. It’s the equivalent of making it to the Superbowl but not being allowed to play. Let’s be honest, dads don’t get many ‘moments’ where they are highlighted. Too often they sit quietly in the background watching the drama unfold – at least that’s the way it’s always played out in our family.

This was one of those politically correct moves where the adage be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater would apply. The financial component could easily be remedied by establishing a scholarship program for those needing assistance. In regard to the first issue, there isn’t a junior who got where she is without the love and support of someone – a mom, grandparent, sibling, mentor, coach, teacher. No one ‘arrives’ at that level of academia without the assistance of someone.

Ring Dance is more than acknowledging the girls’ accomplishments. It’s an opportunity to honor the person, or persons, who helped them achieve them regardless of age or gender. Another important aspect to keep in mind is that it isn’t compulsory to walk down the stairs. Plenty of girls with parents in attendance chose not to participate in that element of the evening. Others simply missed their cue. It should be the young woman’s choice whether or not to walk, and with whom.

Not to be denied, my daughter and her friends chose to plan an informal coup to have their fathers by their side as in the past. They had their reasons – not the least of which was fear of stumbling off their lofty heels or tripping on their gowns. Alphabetically, the Butmans would be the first of their group to attempt it. Not an easy feat as security was stricter than a White House function (at least recently).

You have to understand, my husband comes from a military family. He follows the rules. As a RA in college, he enforced the rules. He avoids conflict at all costs and totally missed the bad boy gene. I watched from the foot of the stairs doubting he’d actually go through with it. Much to my surprise, when they announced Hannah he surreptitiously slipped through security to take her arm as the crowd of 500+ roared in approval. It was his shining moment. I was so proud. Other dads took his cue and did the same. At one point they stopped the procession in an effort to regain control. The crowd boomed their support for the dads by chanting in unison, “Let them walk! Let them walk!”

So what’s my point? A trivial example for sure, but it begs the deeper question, “Who or what do you choose to stick up for when it isn’t easy and/or can be costly? We’re all stirred to action by something. Taking it one step further, consider the flipside, “Who’s advocated for you and at what cost?” Some may have more than one answer, but we all share the legacy of Christ who stood up for us and paid dearly for our salvation.

As I mentioned earlier, no one gets through life on their own accord. The most important escort you will ever have, chose to break every convention and social more of the time to walk beside those that needed His support most – the sinful, unloved and unwanted. The ones that understood all too well just how unworthy they were. Society reminded them daily.

Even so, it is our choice whether or not to reach out and take hold of Christ. But when we do, He promises to “be with us always and watch over us wherever we go.” You don’t have to fear falling when it feels like you’re trying to navigate a steep incline on five-inch heels. He’ll be there to help steady you and lift you up when you stumble.

If Bob holds true to form, I’m sure the story will take on a life of its own, with him leaping over barriers or outsmarting a sea of armed guards to reach his daughter. He will become an urban legend in Ring Dance history, or at least within our own family. Christ’s story, on the other hand, never changes nor does He. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Who can resist choosing such an escort – one that allows us to walk by faith not by sight – confident of His unconditional and unending love and support?