This blog recounts my fitness journey into the sport of triathlon and the gifts God has blessed me with while on it! May the movements of my life boldly proclaim that the sparks we encounter in scripture will kindle hope in our lives!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Red Dress Moment

So, back to the awesome birthday gift from God! It was a series of moments over several days really. A powerful ministering of the Holy Spirit to my heart. I've done my best to refrain from editing the events. Some of it is very raw and is painful for me to re-read, but most of it is breathtakingly beautiful and made more so, I think, for the contrast between the beauty and the pain. 


Here you go...

My Red Dress Moment

My mom was giving me a ticket to Riverdance for my birthday. On my birthday, I’d turn 37. I would be going to Riverdance with my youngest sisters. Jolene is 27, Julianna is 20, and Victoria is 18.

There was a lot going on inside me before she told me this. I had begun to allow myself to be angry with my husband over how he treated me during our marriage. I’d recognized how I would use different activities, t.v., food, books, to escape facing the anger and hurt that resulted from our relationship and how it affects my life right now. I’d been grappling with my body image and how I’d lost more than 55 lbs since his death, but looking in the mirror and not being happy with that, and still just seeing the fat me. I was wrestling with God about my finances, again, and what it looks like to trust Him for this present moment without worrying or growing anxious about the future. I’d been on the edge of tears for about 2 months and had just begun to be aware of how deeply I was engaging my body through my training and how cleansing that was to my spirit. So much emotion was just under the surface and my body was willingly letting go of so much “stuff”.

The gift of tickets to a beautiful event should have been a wonderful spirit lifter – but it wasn’t. I found myself irritated by the whole idea.

To start, I no longer had any dressy clothes that fit. I knew my sisters would be going all out for the evening. I didn’t know that I could justify purchasing something to wear that, in all likelihood, would only be worn once, because I wouldn’t be the size I was for too much longer and wouldn’t get another chance to wear it. I was still paying for some clothes that I could no longer wear! On top of that, I had one week to shop. Then I’d have to stress about even finding something. The school year was wrapping up and we had a million end-of-the-year activities. I didn’t have a lot of spare time to shop for a dress! In addition, my sister Jolene keeps asking me if anyone’s asked me out yet. I was concerned that an evening could get messy in the “men department”!

Sure enough, my sister called me. “You know,” she said, “we’re planning on going glamorous for this. I’ve got my scandalous shoes and a great dress. You are planning to dress up right?” ….Right. “I don’t know, Jo.” I explained to her about the state of my wardrobe and not wanting to spend the money right now. I could tell she was disappointed.

A couple of days ticked by and I was becoming cranky about it. I found I had some free time and a coupon for $10 at JC Penney. “Fine,” I thought, I need a new belt anyway. It won’t hurt to look.” But it did hurt. It was physically painful. My entire body tensed up as I walked into the dress department. I tried to concentrate on relaxing.

There was quite a rack of clearance dresses and I went ahead and checked in my current size. There was a beautiful red dress and I pulled it off the rack. I was thinking, “I LOVE red and it is a good color for me.” And then, “Whatever, that would be a miracle for it to actually fit!”  I grabbed about 7 other dresses, some clearance and some not, figuring I could at least tell Jo I had made a valiant effort to find one. I headed for the dressing room.

I tried on the first several dresses and wasn’t thrilled. I tried a black one, and it was o.k., but the price tag was $80 and I just didn’t know that I could do that. I had saved the red one for last. I was able to admit to myself that I really wanted it to work. It sure was pretty and feminine, and red! It had this funky zipper on the side and I couldn’t quite get it all the way up, but, I knew it would work. It fit! Then I looked in the mirror and I felt my smile disappear.

“Who do you think you are?” a voice whispered. “If you wear that dress you’ll be ridiculous. You’re not shapely enough or pretty enough to wear it and certainly not feminine enough.” I tried to ignore the voice and I checked the price tag - $34.95. Reasonable. I really wanted the dress. I wanted it to be a dress I could wear. “The cost won’t matter if you look ridiculous,” said the voice. I got dressed and got ready to leave the changing room, I looked at the dress one more time. The voice won. I just couldn’t do it. I left the store and called my sister.

I explained to her that I spent an hour trying on dresses that just wouldn’t work and I really couldn’t justify the expense. I told her about the red dress and how I just wouldn’t be confident enough to wear it. I told her what I planned to wear and that I might not look like I belonged with them, but I didn’t intend to ruin their fun. She told me she knew I’d be fine in whatever I wore, but that she was going to pray for me. She was going to pray that I would see myself as the sexy, desirable woman that God made me to be and that I would embrace that. “Whatever,” I thought, “not real high on God’s priority list, I’m sure. Besides, that’s not the issue here.” I finished the rest of my errands and headed home.

Well, the next day was bad….really bad. I finally called my closest friend mid-afternoon.

“I don’t know what is wrong with me. I’m so crabby. No matter what I’m doing, I’m crabby, and this whole dress thing just makes me so angry.” Charis knew about the whole dress thing.

“Jesaca, I’ve seen the outfit you’re going to wear. You’ll look great! Don’t worry about it. Your sister’s will have to be o.k. with it. Don’t let it get to you.”

It took me a few minutes of talking it through again to really put into words what was bothering me. I explained about the red dress and that I really wanted to wear a dress, but I just didn’t feel like I could. Who did I think I was?

“I thought you just didn’t want to buy a dress or stress about looking for one. I thought you were concerned about how the evening would go with your sisters. Where in the world is this coming from?” she asked. “This seems to be a recurring theme lately. Remember you said that about swimming in the lane?” I had. I felt that way about swimming in the lane at the pool. I felt like people would frown at me because I didn’t belong there. “When was the last time you got dressed up and did a grand event like this?” she asked.

I had to think really hard for a moment. “I don’t remember. It would have had to have been before my husband died. It would have been with him.”

“What was that like?” Charis asked gently.

I had this sudden vision that she had opened a set of double doors and was coaxing me to look into a tightly packed closet that held my life with him. All of this emotion rushed at me, so many memories all jumbled down around me together, none of them pleasant.

“Well,” there was just so much, it took me a minute to get started.

I did the best I could to prepare for any event with my husband. He usually didn’t want me shopping for anything new, but he’d chide me about not having figured out something sooner so that I could have shopped-but whenever I tried to do that, he wouldn’t let me shop or he’d find something he didn’t like about anything I found when I did shop. He’d typically comment about why didn’t I have something that was right to wear, or that the shoes weren’t quite right, and why didn’t I do something with my hair-when I thought I had! I remembered a discussion that we’d had not long before his death. He asked me why I didn’t take better care of myself, like my sister. I felt so helpless when he said that. I knew what my sister spent in time and money to “take care” of herself. He said she always managed to look so put together and why couldn’t I be more like her. He would make me grovel to get a haircut or a new bra, forget about hair color or clothes or shoes! He was very honest that he thought I had a big nose, but said it suited me. He told me I wasn’t feminine or sexy, but that he was o.k. with that. The only times he ever said I looked beautiful were when he was in front of more people than just me and it was humiliating because I knew he didn’t mean it and I figured they knew too.

I stumbled through explaining all of that to Charis and then one more thought crashed into the others.

“The whole time we were out somewhere he would be saying, ‘Who do they think they are, anyway? Who do they think they are?’ He’d be all charming to everyone, but would say that to me the whole time. Then after we left I’d hear all about how he couldn’t stand how someone spoke or what they talked about or what they wore. He’d talk about how he had been treated poorly or how two-faced people were. I would be on edge the entire time we were out, waiting for something anyone would do or say that would set him off and create a scene. I’d worry about what I was doing or saying that would make him come down on me after we got home.” I was a little bit weepy and a lot angry by the time I got it all out.

“It wasn’t very fun, was it? Jesaca,” Charis said, “he can’t tell you that anymore.”

“No,” I declared rather violently, “No, he doesn’t get to tell me that anymore. He chose, he chose and he doesn’t get a say in my life anymore.”

“Well, I’m glad we flushed that out!” said Charis. “You are a daughter of the King – remember that!” What a relief!

Charis helped me think about how to prepare for the next time I hear his voice and how I can cut it off before it tries to interfere with my life now.

It was Thursday and Riverdance was Saturday night. By the end of the day, I determined to go back to JC Penney.

Friday morning I loaded the girls up and off we went. I was going to buy a dress and it didn’t matter how much it cost! All the way there I was trying to prepare my heart to accept that the red dress would probably be gone. That’s o.k. the black one would work and there were several of those.

I dragged the girls behind me through the store as fast as I could go!

There was the clearance rack. I checked my size. It wasn’t there. The red dress was gone. Well, of course it was gone, I really couldn’t wear it-there it was again-that voice! Stop it. Darn it! You don’t get to tell me anymore!!! I found the black one again and the girls were lending their own suggestions. I gave one last glance over the clearance. Nope, no red dress. “Well, maybe I should just check this larger size,” and I began to move another dress along the rack. As I moved the dress aside, there it was, the red dress. Really? I giggled. Of course. I checked the tag, but I already knew it was the only one and it was my size. As I pulled it off the rack I could hear the girls ooooing and aahhing and in the stillness of my heart God’s love washed over me with “I knew you’d be back. It’s time. I kept it hidden just for you.” I knew I had an incredible smile on my face.

I grabbed a wrap off of the clearance rack and raced the girls and the dresses over to the dressing room. This time I tried the red one first. Abigail helped me with the zipper. The girls loved it. I looked in the mirror and I heard it again! “Who do you think you are?” I thrust my chin into the air. God answered for me this time. “You are My Beloved.” My heart leaped as my spirit agreed. “Yes!” I declared, “I am beloved and redeemed. A ransomed daughter of the Most High God! And He chose this dress just for me!” All the way to the cash register I continued to burst with awe for His love for me. At the checkout the clerk exclaimed over the dress. It WAS really beautiful. My girls were beaming. “My mom’s going to wear that dress,” offered Lydia. “She looks beautiful!” The gal rang it up. “Well,” she said, “look at that, it’s only $20! You’re getting a great deal!” Of course I am. My God is awesome that way and He wanted me to have that dress and know that He was giving it to me!

I got the girls in the car and stepped outside to call a friend. “The dress was still there! I bought the dress. It was waiting for me!” I cried as the tears trickled down my cheeks. I would only have to wait one day to wear it.

When my sister showed up on Friday night she let me have it. “You liar! You did too buy the dress!” I shared the story of the dress and all I had discovered in the last days. We laughed and cried together. “I prayed for you!”, Jo reminded me. “I prayed for you!”

On Saturday evening, my sister did my hair. I’ve never had an up-do before! I did my makeup and my mom showed up to watch the girls while we went out. It was time to put on the dress! Mom helped me zip it up and I tied the shiny red bow sash. I headed for the mirror and was astonished at the woman who looked back at me. She was beautiful, graceful, elegant. It was me as I’ve never seen myself before.

Mom snapped some pictures and we headed out. The gift of the dress was more than enough to minister to my needy heart, but God is determined to minister to us exceedingly, abundantly beyond what we can imagine.

From the moment we left the car for the State Theater I was swept up in His passionate love for me. Waiting outside, then in line and while visiting before the performance He reminded me repeatedly, “Remember who you are. This is who you are. I am always with you. You are mine.” At one point during the performance I realized how relaxed I was, how much I was enjoying the evening. There was a smile on my face and I was caught up in the breathtaking beauty of the dance. “My darling…” I heard, “this is what I have for you. Accept it. Embrace it. The freedom I offer. The beauty – the life. You are no longer in bondage, desolate. Remember this taste of the fullness of my love for you. I made you exactly who you are and you are lovely!”  Tears rolled down my cheeks as He poured out His love on me in that moment. There was no anxiety, no fear about what would happen after the performance. I breathed it in. What a joyous evening it was!

That gorgeous red dress is still hanging on my closet door where I can look at it all I want. I look at it and remember that night and I remind myself that it wasn’t just one night. I will forget, and in His mercy and grace He will remind me again. Those promises, those words of love are for right now, for this moment and for the moment after this, and for the future. The truth that is restoring me has a root that is moving deeper and deeper within my soul and I know who I am.

I am His.

 Ready for Riverdance....and beauty!

1 comment:

  1. My favorite - "I knew you'd be back. It's time. I kept it hidden just for you." - so beautiful, Our God! Isn't it wonderful to be so loved?


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