They were everywhere. I mean, I should’ve known coming in, that the stylist (yes, stylist) would think I was getting married and Taylor, Bree, Amanda, Laura, and Kat were all my bridesmaids. And I should’ve known that there would be wedding dresses at a bridal store. And I should’ve been mentally prepared for the fact that my friends would want to try on veils.
But I didn’t, I wasn’t.
Let me explain.
So, Jacob has asked me to attend a battalion/military ball with him. He asked me this about a month or so ago, and provided for the dress and traveling to go to Ft. Bragg to attend this event. Military balls, as I understand them, are black tie events put on annually (sometimes more) to honor service members, as well as to loosen up and have a bit of fun. But notice the little “black tie” adjective that follows the “to be” verb. I would need to wear an evening gown.
I have never before worn an evening gown. I can’t even remember if I’ve ever tried one on in my and my sister’s random girls’ night outs we used to run in high school. So, therefore, I had to do research, and God has blessed me with an entire team of girlfriends who knew way more about gowns and such than I ever could.
In my overthinking mind, the process went over many mountains and around many boulders and just all over the place, and that was before I even thought of where to purchase one. In the past months, I’ve learned, and I’ve said this before, that bringing things to God and praying about them with thankfulness (or thanksgiving) makes me have a right, godly perspective about them. Even if the prospect of choosing an evening gown for this event, which I would attend with Jacob, seems simple and small, I wasn’t about to let it go without bringing it to Him. So, after praying about my perspective on the event, on what it means, on finding a dress, it came down to this:
While I will be representing Jacob at the ball, and while I will be walking in on his arm, ultimately, what I wear and how I act will give a representation of Christ. Is what I choose to wear reflective of my identity as His daughter? Does it bring glory to Him? How does it affect my heart towards Him? And so, when my focus came off of representing Jacob (which is still very, very important), and went onto representing Christ, ultimately, the process became so much easier, and fulfilling, and purposeful. How can I show that I am Yours?
In the fitting room, I tried on gown after gown. I tried on regal fabrics and a-lines and styles I probably couldn’t even pronounce. My girlfriends decided on their roles, some being mock bridesmaids, others being the angry aunt or the over-controlling sister, or the well-meaning grandmother, following the poor example of wedding dress shopping set by “Say ‘Yes’ To The Dress.”
Finally, I walked out of the fitting room in the gown. I won’t attempt to convey to you what their reactions were like, because I looked at my feet most of the time, at least until Laura and Taylor asked me what I thought. When I looked in the mirror, I…I don’t know. I don’t mean to make it sound cheesy, but I was reminded of Stasi Eldridge’s Captivating, and her thought on the desire of a woman’s heart, that of unveiling beauty, and I began to wonder, once again, if maybe it was true.
Afterwards we trekked over to shoes, then we trekked back the same direction to go to Chick Fil A…Oh yes. The day overall reminded me of how refreshing and awesome girl time can be. Laura and I got to talk a bit on the subway ride into Midtown, about what we were dealing with, how our families were, what we’re learning with God, how He’s growing us…I got to talk to Kat a little bit as well, as we walked along 6th Ave., and it was through her that I was reminded that sometimes, just every once in a while, I need to be encouraged, too.
Then, Monday came, after a Sunday spent with other Christians, lunch spent on much needed time with Sam and Maria. There would be a game later on that night, and I felt sick to my stomach just thinking about it.
At our last game, I messed up consistently up until the last half, when different concepts finally clicked. But what triggered insecurity was not that I messed up, I knew that would happen, but it was the reaction of some of my teammates. I can handle criticism. I go through it every class, on my writing, on my intentions, on everything. But the way in which it’s delivered still affects me. My teammates were not patient or kind, not considerate, but acted as if I were the scum of the earth, a child, incompetent, stupid. That was hard. There was a point during the game when I got a break on the sidelines, and stepped away from the court to breathe and maybe even cry. And while I was struggling to refocus, God reminded me that this wasn’t the end of the world, that I couldn’t change their reactions, only how I responded, and up to that point I was struggling with responding correctly. And so I rested in Him, and got back in the game.
Now, however, fear and nervousness came up into my heart, and as I changed in the locker room, I didn’t want to leave, didn’t want to mess up, didn’t want to give up leadership or be stepped all over, didn’t want to be trampled on or mistreated. And so I prayed and talked to God about how I was feeling, as I’d already done a few times throughout the day, and I was once again reminded that this was not the end of the world, that even if I horribly and embarrassingly messed up, I would be okay. It wasn’t about my teammates. It wasn’t about winning. Ultimately, it would be about how I represented Christ. Would my competency and application of things learned in practice shine with the light of Christ? Would my words be encouraging and kind, loving and empowering? Would frustration be pointless and impatience be non-existent? And so I prayed.
We lost by about ten points in that game, and yet, I had so much fun, and everyone played really well. We all, myself included, have to work on some things in practice, but overall, we did great. We loved the game, took care of the ball, and everything was okay.
This past weekend had been particularly rough, a section of time set aside for me to recover from the blows of last week. And yet, after sleeping and not drinking coffee for a few days, after spending time with God consistently through the stumbling over my own feet, and not just giving up on that because I was struggling, as can be the temptation; after being valiantly fought for by this God of mine through His Word, through Jacob, through my mom, and through others, I am settled back into Him, on the other side of a spiritual hurricane.
Emotions are still pretty all over the place, but even in these, however deep they may be, it’s not like God doesn’t know what’s going on. It’s not like He’s unaware of my cries for help. He knows. I am not by myself in this, and the One who knows my heart best also knows what I need, when I need it, and how all of these things are going to work out. So for now, I wait, and I pray, and I trust in God’s changing work in me and in those around me, even if I can’t see it. I wait for Him to move, trusting that as I pray to Him He’s already moving.
“Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all. But the Lord said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.” —Exodus 5:22-6:1