I remember my wedding day vividly, though it was almost twenty-five years ago. As a young bride, I dreamed of the moment I turned to face the mirror and saw myself adorned from head-to-toe in white.
My veil was handmade, a tiara of tiny white blossoms and beads with layers of tulle cascading to my fingertips. The long sleeves, elaborate in detailed lace and beading, ended at a point over the center of my hands. The train spread into three scalloped sections that flowed gracefully from a big, puffy bow.
Because it was 1995 and bows were “in.” The bigger, the better.
I held myself differently in that dress. I walked more slowly, more deliberately. My hands were suddenly more graceful in their movements. I held my bouquet lightly, rested my arm on my father’s elbow delicately, and floated down the aisle to my groom who stood with tears rolling down his tough, manly cheeks on feet that I am sure barely touched the floor.
I felt beautiful. I felt whole. I felt expectant and joyful and…regal.
I felt like a princess.
If you are married, you can probably relate to this moment. If not, maybe you have tried on a formal or prom dress and experienced the inward transformation that happens when your outward appearance is so drastically different from the way you normally look.
So, imagine how odd and inappropriate it would be to wear a wedding dress to…a drinking party or an explicit movie. What about an “adult” store, or abortion clinic? Would you consider going to a brothel, smoking pot or beating a child with your wedding dress on?
I know these are extreme cases, but I have a point that I want you to grasp.
I have been teaching a group of middle and high school girls the truth about our identity in Christ for the past several weeks. I have watched their eyes fill with tears as the concept sinks in. They sit a little taller, smile a little wider. As they learn who they are and how their good, merciful Father sees them, hope dawns and they leave that room a little lighter on their feet.
Why is learning your true identity so important? Because who you are affects everything you do.
You are the Bride of Christ. That means, in the spiritual sense you are always wearing a wedding dress. Isn’t that a beautiful thought?
Or maybe it scares you because you realize you have been overdressed for some of the places you have been going.
Don’t worry, we have all been overdressed, but that is why God gives us spiritual family.
When I got dressed for my wedding, I was surrounded by friends and family who helped me do everything from zip up the back to perfecting my hair and makeup. I absorbed their love and affirmation as they did so and it resulted in the moment I finally walked down the aisle feeling completely natural and appropriate for me, this simple girl from a small town who lives most days in jeans and t-shirts.
We need that. We need people who surround us, accessorize us, and remind us of who we are and Whose we are. We need people who usher us back onto the path when we veer off because “you would never go in there in your wedding dress.” It’s not about thinking I am better than someone else, it is about being fully who I am in Christ then helping my sisters put on their wedding dresses.
Sister, He calls you lovely. And you are. You are lovely because He loves you. He says you are saved by grace through faith, then He gave you a title, a position, a job fit for a princess. You get to represent Him in full regalia even though, until the day He claimed you for His own, you lived life in wrinkled, dirty, worn-out garments. He clothes you and says you are worthy to do this holy work because He made you worthy by His death on the cross. Even when you forget and go into the wrong places, places not fit for a bride, He doesn’t forget or abandon His desire for you. He pulls you back, turns you to face Him, and whispers “Come away with me, my lovely one.” He sees you clothed in purest white, without blemish, spotless, holy…
And you can either focus on the past, living crippled with shame, or you can look in the face of the One who loves you perfectly and say, “Yes, yes I am. I am all those things because of you, Jesus.”
“And because of you, Jesus, I am able to walk worthy of the calling you have put on my life.”
“I am able to make choices befitting a beloved Bride because you are smiling at me with tears in your eyes from the end of the aisle.”
“I am able to make choices befitting a beloved Bride because I am your beloved Bride.“
Let us celebrate, let us rejoice, let us give him the glory! The Marriage of the Lamb has come; his Wife has made herself ready. She was given a bridal gown of bright and shining linen. The linen is the righteousness of the saints.Revelation 19:7-8 (MSG)
The [Holy] Spirit and the bride (the church, the true Christians) say, Come! And let him who is listening say, Come! And let everyone come who is thirsty [who is painfully conscious of his need of those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, and strengthened]; and whoever [earnestly] desires to do it, let him come, take, appropriate, and drink the water of Life without cost.Revelation 22:17 (AMPC)