Updated: Dec 13, 2020
Although I had donated it to the thrift store, when I actually saw it hanging on the end of the clothes rack, it caught me off guard.
Rediscovered when we were moving my parents back in their house after a whole-house flood, I decided it didn’t need to hang around any longer for its lace and fabric to be repurposed into doll clothes; it just needed to be gone. Without a second thought, I threw it in a box for donation.
It was my wedding dress.
I ran my hand down the ribboned sleeve.
Memories flooded my mind.
I remembered when I first tried it on. At the time, Gunne Sax was all the rage. Unable to afford a designer label, I discovered a knock-off on the bridal rack at J. C. Penney. It was the first dress I tried on. I still remember seeing my reflection in the dressing room mirror. I barely recognized myself. I felt like a princess and could barely contain my excitement. I would try on dozens more dresses before I went back to dress number one.
I ran my hand along the beads on the veil. I remembered my mom and maid of honor trying to secure it on my head, jabbing my scalp with bobby pins and demanding I stand still. I can't help but smile when I remember the chaos of the entire bridal party getting ready in the very small nursery at the church.
I turned the dress around to look at the back. I didn’t let down the train, but I wondered if it was still there: the shoe print that belonged to one of the mischevious young boys at the reception who stomped on my dress and literally stopped me in my tracks.
I stepped back to take a picture. For some reason, I felt I needed to take just one more picture.
Unexpectedly, tears filled my eyes. I suddenly ached for for the young 21-year old who wore the dress.
I remember her well.
She was desperate to be loved by a man; so much so that she would compromise her values and settle for what she thought was her only chance for love.
She thought a husband would meet all her needs and fulfill her heart’s desires.
She thought marriage would guarantee happily-ever-after.
And she thought she was fat and needed to lose more weight before the final fitting of her size 5 petite wedding dress.
She was so very young and so very wrong...and she had no clue of the heartache and disappointment the next decade would bring.
If only she had known that she was God’s beloved.
If only she had trusted that God would bring her His choice of a companion, in His perfect timing and if it was His will. And if was not His plan for her to be married, she’d be okay. In fact, she’d be more than okay.
If only she had realized that only God can meet all her needs and fulfill her heart’s desires.
If only she had known that happiness is dependent on feelings and circumstances, but joy is soul-deep and unchanging.
That young bride may have made some really bad decisions and suffered tremendous heartache because of her choices, but God would redeem her tears, use every experience for her good and teach her about His everlasting love.
I touched the lace on the bodice.
I may no longer be able to fit in that altered size 5 dress, but I carry around a lot less weight now than that unhealthily-thin 21-year old did back in 1983.
I straightened the dress on the hanger.
As ran my hand along the sleeve for a final time, I prayed for the next bride that will stand in front of the mirror wearing the dress. I pray she will already know she is a daughter of the One True King.
And I pray she will see herself as God’s beloved princess and know His steadfast and everlasting love.
I have loved you with an everlasting love. ~ Jeremiah 31:3