“This is the last song that I write
While you’re even on my mind
Cause it’s time to leave
Those feelings behind
Oh, ’cause blue skies are calling
But I know that it’s hard”
– Noah & The Whale
For those who’ve been tracking the drama of the wedding dress, I have quite the praise report! I’m happy to announce that I am not only all paid up a whole month early, but the dress made its way to my doorstep on Friday as well. Understandably, this has stirred quite a mix of emotions. The joy of blessing and provision swirled in to deep sadness that the dress will live, unused, in storage. There is no “big day” or occasion. Just a girl and her dress – the most beautiful she’s ever seen.
So, after allowing myself the whole run of emotions this weekend, I’m ready to write. This will be the last spoken about the dress until the day comes to don it. But it’s such a beautiful dress with such a beautiful story for it to pass along into the box without any acknowledgement, so here goes:
In November, when the time came to start the search, I was totally unprepared. As a little girl, I hadn’t really given much thought to a wedding – I guess everyone else had at least some idea of the magic and majesty they’d come to expect, but I was busy worrying about more immediate concerns. My aunt made the first move and set appointments for me to dress shop the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It was a good thing, too, because I didn’t even know you had to make them!
I tried to make a Pinterest board for the dress, but I grew increasingly frustrated when internet searches yielded not a single dress I really loved. I pinned bits and pieces from dresses here and there, but I’d yet to see a complete dress that wowed me. To make matters worse, my ex-fiancee saw my board and made negative comments about each part of each dress I actually kinda liked. He’d say he liked everything I didn’t, and my heart hurt a little when he pointed at the coolest remnants I had found and shot them down. Combined with the fact that every other dress search in my life had ended in tears and disappointment when, store after store, I could never find a dress that fit both my body and budget at the same time, I was dreading the day.
Already anticipating failure, I approached the day rather lackadaisically – I knew I wouldn’t find a dress that day, so don’t get hopes up. I threw up a desperate prayer, “Papa God, I know there are so many greater concerns, but could You please help with my dress shopping? I’ve never found a dress easily, and I always get stressed out and cry. Lord, with everything else being so hard to find and plan, could you please just make this the easiest decision about the whole wedding? Please help me find the perfect one quickly and have no doubts about it at all or get stuck between two – let me just know beyond a shadow of a doubt, love it, have complete peace, and be able to afford it.”
I was shocked at the incredible treatment I received that day (at Trudy’s Bridal in Campbell for those who need a fabulous experience). I had my own personal dressing room and helper; no racks to rummage through, just me and my aunt on a bench while our assistant retrieved what she thought I might like based on my Pinterest board and insistence that it be lace. After I tried on a dress at the helper’s request so she could estimate my size and be sure I didn’t want satin, she brought in about 5 lace dresses.
The very first dress I put on, I knew I’d found it.
I did try on several other dresses that day to make sure, but I kept coming back to this one. I couldn’t believe it. I’d found the dress in less than an hour and it was $100 less than our estimated budget.
Or so I thought.
When I got home, I looked at our wedding budget and realized I’d just committed to double what we’d allotted. Slightly panicked, and getting major gruff from my intended, I prayed and the peace returned: I’d asked God for this dress, and He’d hand-delivered it to me down to the last desire of my heart before I could even articulate what they were. He’d provide.
But then my engagement was broken and a call to the bridal shop revealed that I was still on the hook for the full amount. The ironclad no-cancellation policy had me in a chokehold; I was unemployed, in transition, had exhausted all my savings, on my own, and had 4 months to pay off the $1200 balance. Each month, I made the $300 payment, I was not quite sure it would go through – the anxiety of it all brought so much anger and stress and resentment. What had been a blessing and a gift seemed now a burden and reminder of my deeply broken heart.
Then, Papa stepped in. Each month, the payments miraculously cleared until I came to the halfway point. As I made my second-to-last installment, a quick figuring told me that, unless I found a job soon here in Redding, I would not have enough to finish paying the dress, much less drive down and pick it up. I became angry because I’m also trying to save to pay my BSSM tuition, and this was draining resources that could be going to that.
What I learned is that Papa’s resources are endless – they cannot be drained! The day after I made the payment, I got an email from a man I had met in passing one time back home in Indiana, circa 2009. Our interaction couldn’t have lasted more than ten minutes, and I’m honestly not sure how we were Facebook friends. Long story short, he expressed that he would be paying off my dress:
“From your postings it’s evident that you always give so much of yourself to everyone, for so many great causes, and to God. You pour your heart and soul into everything. You leave a lasting impression on everyone you meet. Just wanted to give you something back, just to say thanks Lindsey from everyone.”
And just like that, I realized I had been complaining and totally missing the point God was trying to make. How often do we allow Satan to come steal our victories, kill our hopes, and destroy the miraculous blessings and testimony God’s writing in us? God had given me the dress of my unarticulated dreams, one that was never intended for my ex (he pointed out and expressed distaste for each feature without knowing it), and He’d given me a double-portion since I doubled the cost on accident. And, He’d paved the way to pay for it both through my own finances (completely independent of my ex) and gifts given by a few other people. When the final payment was made by a near stranger, I heard Papa say, “I do not bless to curse. I would never give you this dress if I didn’t intend to give you a reason to wear it. I know there’s a part of you that believes pursuing Me and the call I’ve placed on your life to serve the least of these means silent submission to a life of singleness. I see your pain of M’s broken promises to love, protect, and cherish you. But I have not broken My promise. This is not a reminder of an end – this is a promise of My love, provision, and a beautiful future. Just rest, and let Me continue to provide for your every need and heart’s desire while we work together to restore your spirit.”
As an added lil kiss, the bridal shop offered to ship the dress to me in Redding, free of charge, to spare me the trip. Boom. God even sent my neighbor over to my house, beers in hand, the moment I opened the box and started the mix of sorrowful sobbing and overjoyed “Oh, it’s even more beautiful than I remembered.” Blessings on blessings, glory to glory.
So, thank you to the people who chose to give so generously to help me receive this healing gift. You know who you are, and I know I could never fully express my gratitude. I thank God for you every time I see my dress hanging in the hall.
And praise be to the One who is the Giver of the best gifts, Promiser of great promises, and only One who truly knows my heart. Thank You for reassuring me that blue skies are calling and for holding me close while it’s still hard for me to see. Thank You for the grace & space to grieve what’s been lost and for marking the time to leave all those feelings behind with such a beautiful milestone.