Her life is about to change. I secure the final button and fasten the hook and eye closure. I straighten out her rumpled train so the gleaming white beads are noticeable. Oil spots from the parking lot and patches of dirt from the wooden parquet dance floor will soon cover the white beads, but she will not notice nor have time to care.
Her wedding day is here.
I, on the other hand, am wearing a red satin A- line dress with black, strappy high heels. I may actually be able to wear this one again, I muse to myself. The dress before this one was floor length and fuchsia. I did not care for it, but I cared about the bride so I wore the dress anyway. Because she, like all the others, have held me as I ugly cried over another “no.”
13 bridesmaid dresses hang in my closet. I’ve worn every color in the David’s Bridal catalogue except for the white one. And my satin rainbow causes me to question. Where are You, God? Why won’t You give me this desire? The whole “it’s not you, it’s me” I keep hearing is just a bunch of baloney. What is wrong with me, God?
The quartet begins to play. I suppress my shame, muster a sheepish smile, and make my way down the aisle.
You are not pretty enough…
You are a prude. Sleep with him or you will lose him. No one has to know…
You need to try harder not to sin so God will bless you with a husband like He did me…
You are a ministry leader in our church. You are too independent and intimidating. Submit to a husband? You? Doubtful…
Stand still and remember not to lock your knees.
You are in your 30s, I cannot even imagine what it must be like to still be single. Maybe your standards are too high…
They say their vows and kiss. Hours later I raise my glass, give my toast to the bride and groom, and do the electric slide with them across the wooden dance floor. And I catch the bridal bouquet, again. After a quick hug and a, “I’ll call you from the beach,” my friend is gone.
Shame overwhelms me once again, making me feel like the crumpled and grubby Kleenex in my hand.
A lot has happened since the day I wore the red satin A-line dress and black strappy high heels. I danced across a wooden dance floor in my own white dress with its buttons and hook and eye closure. But my heart no longer resembled the gleaming white beads on the train of my wedding dress. “This will not work” and “I don’t love you, Tracy” did their damage, leaving spots of oil and patches of dirt all over my heart.
Nine years later, stacks of brown, dusty moving boxes surround me. The hollers of “he pinched me mom!” and “give it back, it’s mine!” reach my tired ears. I am trying to unpack and set up our new home, but I cannot remember where I laid the pair of scissors a few minutes ago. The mess surrounding me annoys me so I lose my patience, speaking to my children in an octave that makes the neighbor’s dog cringe. And shame whispers once again.
Seasons change but shame, itself, does not. Married or divorced, single or widowed, shame criticizes, critiques, and crumples all of us the same. Shame is lame like that.
Yes, I love God, read my Bible and pray, but God allows the stains of shame on my heart to stay. Shame is a part of life and God uses it to draw me back to Him. But whatever God does not erase, He eases.
So now, as I walk down the aisle at the grocery store, I listen to His voice over the shame.
You’ve always been beautiful because you are made in my Image…
Do not bend to the ways and opinions of others but believe in Me and my timing…
Yes, you need to overcome the sin in your life with My help, but do not think for a second it or anything else will ever separate you from My love…
Step. Okay several fast steps toward the checkout line since my kids are starting to melt.
Tracy, you needed to wear red and fuchsia before I allowed you to wear white so that you can relate and show my compassion and love towards those who feel ugly and unlovable. The tears you cry matter. I will not waste them…
It is midnight now, and I am exhausted. I would love to wrap this post up with bullet points and a bow, but I cannot do so. I am God’s “work in progress” and so are you. Keep walking down the aisle before you no matter what color of dress or LuLaRoe stretch pants you find yourself in. Though shame may crumple you, it will never rumple your God.
For He is our refuge whenever when we feel like the crumpled and grubby Kleenex in our hand.
In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge; Let me never be ashamed… For You are my rock and my fortress.” Psalm 31:1, 3 NASB
Tracy Steel graduated from Kansas State University in Interior Design in 1998. Eager to change the lives of her clients by improving the interior space they occupied, she thought she had the blueprints for her future completed. Then she met and fell in love with Jesus Christ, and He changed everything. Tracy writes and speaks about a different kind of interior design now, helping women become who God wants them to be. When she isn’t attempting to homeschool her two adorable children, Tracy also loves to watch college football and drink lots of green tea. She is proudly married to Chad, a pilot in the United States Air Force, which also makes her a professional mover and grocery store locator. You can learn more about her Bible study, Images of His Beauty, and read more of her ramblings about life and faith over at www.tracymsteel.com.