Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of my daughter’s wedding day. I’ve long wanted to write about one central part of our preparations, but the words simply haven’t coalesced. Spiritually speaking, this past year has been hard. I have encountered steep, seemingly impassable terrain on my journey to the high places. Yet my Shepherd has been faithful to lead me through it, and as I look back on my daughter’s lovely, lovely day, I now see the gem, the standing stone, my Father left for me.
One of the centerpieces of the bride’s day is the wedding gown, yards and yards of posh fabric, carefully chosen to showcase the bride’s unique beauty. The sum of a little girl’s dreams are embodied in this garment, bringing the fantasies of happily-ever-after to glorious life. The gown is virtually never chosen without great care.
My daughter had decided to wear my gown. We had long discussed the possibility as we have a similar build and being the eldest, she certainly had dibs. One evening we removed the gown from its box and she tried it on. It did indeed fit, but while the fabric, lace and beading were all in pristine condition, the style was rather outdated. The puffy sleeves, dangling pearls, and giant butt bow all screamed 1990’s, so the decision was made to make some changes.
A sweet friend of mine just happens to have some mad sewing skills. She learned to wield a needle at the tender age of 6, made her first wedding gown at 17, and even attended an intensive couture class run by a master. She graciously accepted a challenge that turned out to be larger than any of us had anticipated.
We sat down and discussed the changes my daughter wanted and it was determined that the entire bodice would need to be torn off and a new one made. She also wanted to do something different than pearls, so they would have to go, along with the sequins which had not weathered the years as well as the rest of the gown. We were talking about a major overhaul!
The first obstacle was to find fabric that matched. I had no idea there were so many different shades of white, with different weights, textures, and sheen. My friend persevered in her search and came up with an almost perfect match. She carefully removed the lace from the existing bodice to save for the new one, removed pearls and sequins, and unflinchingly jumped into this huge project.
Now, as we began this process, one of the questions I got asked the most was, “Is it hard for you to let your wedding dress be torn apart like that?” I’ll answer that in a bit, but let me share a few pics.
My sewing-wizard friend created a new bodice from scratch.
She artfully rearranged the lace pieces from the old bodice onto the new.
Carefully placing and hand-stitching roughly 2500 Swarovski crystals on her masterpiece, she lovingly repaired anything that had need while creating a dazzling work of art.
And she even added a sweet, secret message to the bride, hidden in the folds of the skirt.
It was magnificent.
So to answer the question I was frequently asked… No, it wasn’t difficult to allow my own gown, the symbol of the happiest day of my life, to be torn apart. Though I don’t visualize well, I had every confidence in my friend’s ability. I trusted that she could see enough for the both of us, that she had my daughter’s best interests at heart, and that if I left my dress in her capable hands, she would create something even lovelier than before.
And I was right to trust. Not just her skill, but her love for my daughter drove this amazing woman to spend hours upon hours on this creation. She worked while her kids were homeschooling, while they were sleeping, during times that could have been spent relaxing with her family. My dear, dear friend sacrificed much to bring us this joy.
What a priceless gift!
So, on to the standing stone of this story…
As I look back on the past year or so I can’t help but see the parallel. In some ways I’ve been torn apart, my seams ripped out, my faith in God and sense of self being redesigned and made new. It’s painful, this transformation, and I can’t see what the final outcome will be. Yet I know my Creator is a master, able to bring about a beauty that can happen no other way.
While He created me in His own image, a beautiful, beloved daughter, He also sees the places that need to be torn away to make way for something more lovely still. He allows my seams to come apart because He knows, in His infinite wisdom, there are pieces of me that need replacing. And for each faux pearl I think is of value, He is willing to replace with a gem of greater beauty.
I trust Him.
You see, He already sees me as I will be someday. Complete. Without blemish. Perfect. I am already His bride, though I’m often undone. I can’t visualize it, but I know He sees enough for the both of us.
I trust Him because He has sacrificed everything to bring me the joy of knowing Him.
So no, it doesn’t grieve me to have given up my lovely wedding gown any more than it grieves me that I have to struggle on this life’s journey. Because it’s all designed to bring transformation and I know that someday, like my daughter’s gown, I too will be dazzling!
Grace and peace,