I’m guessing I was seven.

A 7 year old girl. Shortest in my class with fine, brown hair and freckles.

Walking through the mall, my child-mind not caring at all what our actual reason was for being there, I saw it – I saw “her” really, not it.  In the window of a boutique children’s store, I saw the dress I still wish I could wear.

**********

I just knew it had to be mine. The true love was instant. I saw her from across the room and we were simply soul mates. There’s no other way to describe it.

The perfect visible manifestation of my invisible soul.

The physical depiction of my inner self.

I’d never been struck by an item of clothing before; Never known something was made for me, but this gorgeous thing was! oh, it was! Made. For. Me.

No description will do it justice.
How could I describe my Love to you in a way that doesn’t cheapen it?

Simply: imagine white, lace, a ballgown skirt, beads, shimmer. But none of that matters, because we had chemistry. So, make whatever is in your head 1000x better than what you first thought….
Oh, the delicious Specialness.

It was all I wanted from that moment on.  My school pictures would be epic!

I remember creating songs in its honor for days. Songs of love and courage. Spinning in circles, holding onto light poles and dancing my heart out in honor of the dress that would finally show the world the inner me – how beautiful and SPECIAL God made me.

What amazes me, looking back, is the esteem and self-love the dress awoke in me.

So, I worked up the bravery to ask my Dad to take us BACK to the intimidating mall and buy it for me. Making the ask felt like exposing my soul.

Sometimes, every once in a while, there is a material thing that really does connect with our souls. And telling someone how much it matters is like telling them You matter.

Sometimes, most of the time, other people don’t understand. And their misunderstanding shakes the foundations of your own convictions.

When my Dad, a shy and introverted man who struggled with public spaces, DID take me back to the mall, the combination of our awkwardness(es) could only lead one direction.

We walked into that boutique and immediately the weight of my ask grew heavier and heavier. My feet went cold. Looking up, I saw his face, the face of a father unable to understand or afford the thing his oldest daughter is asking for… and I knew. I knew it wasn’t my dress anymore.  By the time he turned over the pricetag, I was already saying Nevermind. Nevermind. It’s not worth it.

But, honestly, and not melodramatically, I decided I wasn’t worth it.

That day we bought a blue, plaid dress with an orange bow at the neck. We bought it from Sears.

**********

I was engaged to the love of my life at the age of twenty.  After 14 years of marriage and 18 years of making-out, our love is a challenging work but it is also a Great Love – the stuff of fairytales and Nicholas Sparks books.

Our wedding was incredibly simple: Morning light. Chicken lunch. Martinelli’s Toast. Silly afternoon dancing. Perfect.

except for my dress

Something still remained locked inside me even 14 years later.  Spending time or money on clothes or myself was no longer worth it.

Everything else was worth it: Our love was worth it, my family was worth it, our wedding was worth it but the part that was just for me – the dress …  I could not really engage in that process. I could not stand the tension within me. To spend time or money on something just for me, I wanted out of that decision fast.

So, with practicality and a desire to be unselfish with finances as my logical guides, I never dreamed for myself in this area. I quickly picked a cheap dress, hated it because it was actually ugly, and quickly picked another cheap dress that was pretty.

I felt pretty that day. It was a good day.

But I still long for that perfect dress. I still long to have a dress to wear that seems to complete me – even if just for a moment. Daydreaming for beauty.  It may sound shallow. That’s ok. Maybe it is. But it is real. You can still drown in shallow water.

**********

The issues always go deeper than the ones we discuss. So, I’ll end with this prayer…

Prayer: Jesus, my friend, I know you have more in store for me and available to me than I know how to absorb. I pray for the day that my very own skin and hair and smile are the things I fall in love with because you picked them out.  I pray, that like some John Mayer song, or the 7-year-old version of myself, I could sing about my skin – my face – with joy and courage and love.   And, Jesus, could I please someday have a dress that compliments this skin and face – the way a sunset lights up the beach? Thanks Jesus.

The perfect visible manifestation of my invisible soul.

(written as a linkup to the lovely Tanya at Thorns and Gold for a connection started at Concrete Words – yay, new friends!)