Saturday, July 26, 2014
The look on her face said that she was stunned. Dumbfounded. Maybe even in awe. She stared at herself in the full-length mirror. Mesmerized. Taking in the moment in all its fullness and revelation. And then she burst into tears.
She had been trying on wedding dresses with most of her sisters all afternoon. There were 8 or 9 of us in a semi-circle taking over half the dressing area – all there for a single purpose – finding a dress for my daughter’s wedding. Other than the super-sized crowd of witnesses consisting of less than half of my mega-clan of kids, it was a pretty much normal wedding shopping experience.
We all searched through the racks passing quick judgment on every dress, “Too frilly. Too old looking. Hate the neckline. Too much boobage. Not enough bling. Who would ever wear THAT? Gorgeous – but I could buy a car for that price.” Rarely did two of us agree on the perfect dress. Our tastes are all vastly unique.
But we all know “the” dress when we see it. And this was hers. With tears streaming and black mascara flowing freely down her light brown skin, we all giggled and gushed – knowing that this dress was perfect.
With seven brides so far – and another 9 or so daughters waiting for Mr. Right - we are becoming fairly accustomed to the wedding planning process! Small budget. Tiny by most standards. And the bride comes first. Find the perfect dress and accessories – make her feel more special than ever before - and then decide everything else with whatever money remains!
But sometimes, I realize that I’m not prepared at all for what happens. And today was one of those days.
Today, as I watched her wiping her tears and still gazing into the mirror, I realized that these weren’t just the usual bride tears. I know this child. I know her history. I know the ongoing trauma that she endured at the age when most young girls are playing dress-up in old prom dresses, creating make-shift veils and wobbling around on heels far to high for their unstable feet.
This child. My child. Had no frame of reference for such a dream. My little girl was struggling to survive the nightly abuse, while other little girls were free to imagine and play.
I stared at her. In awe of the femininity this particular dress exposed. Amazed at the glimpse I was being given into her soul. The part of her that dared to dream for something more than pain.
There were oohs and ahhs and woo who’s coming from the semi-circle as we all expressed our approval. Aware of the significance of this exact moment in her life, I say almost quietly above the crowd noise, “Binky, you have never imagined this moment before now, have you?”
She looks at me, wiping her tears with her now black fingers, “No. Never,” she manages to get out before the tears start rushing out again.
She doesn’t need to say more. I get it. I get that for at least that moment - she is finally free of some of her demons. She is finally free to see herself as God intended her. Perfect and beautiful. And maybe, just maybe. For that moment. She doesn’t see herself as damaged goods – unworthy of love and respect.
And I am there to witness God in all his glory. Working in the heart of my hardened child. Ready to heal her from her past.
Postscript: And that, my friends, is the answer to the constant question, “How do you do this?” I am able to endure all the pain and heartache and trouble and sacrifice because every once in a while, I am allowed a mere glimpse of the potential life that has been entrusted to me. And that is enough to keep me motivated.