Thursday, April 09, 2009

the dress barn revisited

I just returned from my annual trip to the coast. I usually take four days and hole up in some friend's beach cabin and press into Jesus. I do lots of reading, praying, worshiping . . . and of course, Scout and I take lengthy walks on the beach.

And did I mention shopping? It's good for a girl's soul, right? Anyway, as much as I prefer a good thrift shop, I was in need of a dress for Lindsay's wedding. And just any old dress wouldn't do. So on the second day of my retreat, in-between beach strolls, I found myself irresistably drawn to The Dress Barn.

If you know me well at all, you may be thinking to yourself, "But Shawn doesn't seem like a Dress Barn sort of gal!" And you'd be right--I haven't stepped foot in the Barn for over 30 years.

But strangely enough, The Dress Barn is where I found my wedding dress!

It was the coolest dress ever! If I had a scanner, I'd show you pictures--a lovely white seersucker cotton, accented with lace and ribbons--the perfect hippie princess gown. And I rocked it as a wedding dress, with a ring of white daisies in my hair. All of my girls played dress-up with it when they were young and I think it's still tucked away in an old suitcase somewhere.

So I returned to the Dress Barn like a moth to the flame and had the best time trying on outfits. I found two that fit, complemented Lindsay's color scheme and were in my price range. Since I couldn't make up my mind, I bought them both. And while the sales clerk rang me up, I told her the story of my wedding dress.

Well, she and her co-worker got such a kick out of my tale that we started carrying on like we were old friends. We even swapped stories about our children--I told them about what a wonderful event planner Lindsay (the bride) is, how Danielle and her husband live with Somalian refugees and how my baby, Candyce, is galavanting around dangerous places in Africa doing mission work.

The sales clerk, who'd known me a grand total of 10 minutes, peered at me over her reading frames for a second and then pronounced, "What wonderful daughters you have! It sounds like they all grew up to be like you!"

Her words blessed me to my very core. Not only was that one of the best compliments I've ever gotten--I had to wonder if she'd seen Jesus in me. Even though nothing remotely spiritual had come from my mouth, this woman saw the amazing, brave-hearted faith of my children in me!

This all dove-tailed perfectly with the verse I'd been meditating on that day: "I will glory in my weakness, for then the power of Christ rests on me." I faced the fact that I am a weakling no matter how hard I train to be strong. I acknowledged how physically frail, emotionally fragile and spiritually slow I can be. I am a mess, frankly, but have come to grips with the truth that Jesus can--and does--use me in my weakness. I am a beautiful mess!

And I was feeling pretty messy when I walked into The Dress Barn. Sleep deprived, unkempt, unsure of the future and even a teensy bit out of sorts with God. I was probably using the shopping experience to "medicate" some of the anxiety I'd been experiencing.

And not only did I find two dresses for the wedding--the Lord used a complete stranger to reassure me that He was very present with me in my weakened state.

I had a great week. Didn't sleep much, didn't get answers or direction, but I received lots of affirmation that I am on the right path. And I know He will strengthen my feeble knees for the journey.

Or maybe He'll even carry me for a while . . .


Stephanie Anderson said...

What a beautiful post, Shawn. And I'd love to see your wedding pictures sometime. :)

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