This is not the most important dress

anna first communionKylie Minogue was once a nun.

She was a bride of Christ.

It was on TV, but that’s real enough, isn’t it?

I’m sure there are other things which the Church and Kylie Minogue have in common, but this is one.

You see, the Church is referred to as the bride of Christ.

Indeed, the Church is pictured in the new testament as the bride of Christ being made beautiful for the bridegroom. It’s a complex image. But this idea of a Bride being made beautiful for her encounter with her future husband wasn’t new; either in scripture, or in history. Of course not. There is a natural (and dare I say, God given), desire to be anticipated by our beloved. Whether male or female, we want to be wanted, desire, hoped for. This is not just about women. This is about being human.

The most detailed description that we have within Christian scripture of the rituals of preparation for a wedding is that of Esther. Future Queen Esther. Esther, is made beautiful for her encounter with the King. She is preened and beautified. So, too, we think, we prepare, we pray. I have thought more about my skin and hair in the last couple of months than ever before. I care. Unashamedly, I care. But yet, I am not Esther.

I am not a bride of Christ.

I have not been married to Jesus.

Jesus is not my boyfriend.

I am not a princess waiting to meet my King.

I have not been dancing with God while waiting for my husband to cut in.

I have not been waiting around for a husband.

Yes, you read that right. I have not, was not, sitting around waiting for a husband to save me from a lonely spinster life. My life has been an incredible adventure so far. And frankly, I am not sure how I could have been to the places I’ve been, made the decisions I have made, and served as wholeheartedly as I have if I had not been content! Abounding in all things, content in all circumstances, Paul says. That’s what I’ve strived for, hoped for, and desired. In many ways, the Running Man (RM) came into my life at a really interesting time. Life was hectic. But, he became my friend and over time we fell in love. I started to see that I wanted life with him and couldn’t imagine it without him, and didn’t want to.

Be sure, my way of approaching the world has had to change a little. I can’t make decisions without reference to the needs of someone else. Actually, I don’t want to. It hasn’t really been a fight. You see, he wants my best and I want his. He supports my greatest dreams and I support his.

So I’m not a Bride of Christ. However, God is calling me (inside and out) to be beautiful for my groom – just as the church is called to be transformed! This beauty is way more than skin deep. I am called, like the church to be transformed for my God. To be helped, holy, made perfect in him.

I met a lady recently who only met and spent time with her now husband six times before they were married. 26 years later her main piece of advice was planning marriage counseling at 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months after the wedding. Living together is hard work, she said, even if you’re in love.

But I, as a bride, am not perfect, and am not supposed to be. The wedding isn’t supposed to be perfect — but perfectly imperfect. I haven’t spent three months in bootcamp – I’m sure there will be blemishes on my skin on my wedding day, and I have embarrassing short nails. But, this is who I am body and soul. And I don’t want to begin this marriage with fake nails and extensions. Physical, spiritual, and emotional honesty is where it’s at. Even when it is scary, and even when that vulnerability feels like the biggest risk in the world.

While we’re being real, let’s have a ‘come to jesus’ talk about wedding dresses. Frou-frou or sleek, empire or sweetheart. It’s freakin’ complicated and weird and expensive. Some friends had to drag me to go try on dresses after I had already ordered one dress without trying it on. That trip only served to reinforce how good a choice that dress was, and how crummy the quality and ordinary the style most dresses in formal and wedding dress stores are. And don’t get me started on them telling me that it’ll take 4-6 months to get me a dress that will then need to be altered. I bought my dress online. It fits. I didn’t cry when I tried it on. It is lovely, but it isn’t the dress of my dreams (because I didn’t have a dream dress) and I really don’t care. It is lovely, elegant, and appropriate, and it will do. And that my friends is where it is at.

So, I have a wedding dress in my wardrobe. Actually, there are two. The second dress is not a wedding dress at all! It is cream though, and lace. It’s a lovely dress by an Australian designer. I love the work of that designer. And I love this dress. I will wear it again and again. Because I love it…and I know my (almost) husband will love it too. It will be hot, almost 100 degrees hot, and I want to be comfortable to celebrate!! I wanted something fun and quirky for our reception. But, I also wanted something formal for the ceremony. I admire designer work but I’m not willing to pay beyond my budget for low quality; I wanted something that worked within my budget! Please, I encourage you, don’t start your marriage off by being in debt from one day and from a dress you will wear only for a few hours!

People always want to know about the dress, and they baby it, hold it gently, and are suprised that I haven’t given it a special box and am willing to fold it. I get it. This is an important dress. But This isn’t the most important dress I’ve ever worn. Nor do I want it to be. Yes, to be sure, I want my future husband to think me beautiful. But, this isn’t the most important dress I’ll ever wear.

I want my marriage to be more beautiful than my wedding. I want to invest more time, effort, and money in that. I want my husband to think me more beautiful on our 1st, 5th, 10th, 20th and so on…anniversaries than he does on our wedding night. I want to wear a pretty dress every now and then just because I feel good in it, and because I know he’ll like the way I move in it. I want him to slip his arms around my waist as I’m standing at the counter preparing food with him. I want him to lean over at a red light just to kiss me because he can.

Yes, I want him to think me beautiful on that day. I want him to savour me, to drink me in. But, I want the sun to shine brighter everyday.

I don’t want my wedding dress to be the most valuable dress I wear. I don’t want these garments to define our marriage. Yes, to choose carefully is important, but it is the choice of husband I care more about than dresses and shoes. Yes, they are important, but only because they herald the beginning of a life together — a shared future — as we commit to each other before God and our families and friends.

ps: that photo at the top is of my on my first communion.  Please don’t reproduce, or copy, without permission. Because that would be just weird.

Listening. Observing. Participating. Writing. Photographing. Reflecting.

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Traveller. Scholar. Photographer. Writer. Dreamer. Teacher. Overland from Oz is a crazy adventure marked with photos and word and inspired by the incredible women in Anna’s family, especially her late grandmother, whom she knew as Nan-Nan.


5 thoughts on “This is not the most important dress

  • Pingback: Missive from under the Goanna Tree #3: radical change - Anna Blanch Rabe

  • Carrie Reinhardt

    Hope to see pictures of your wedding day and how it came together to reflect your desires! I agree with what you wrote immensely – and the wedding sub-culture is powerfully pulling folks in a different direction. Will have to share in more detail what happened with our wedding someday, but I can tell you that I resold my wedding dress right after the wedding so someone else could have the chance to wear it and make their own memories…much better than sitting in a box in my attic (which, as you know, would be difficult given our transient life)! 😉

    Reply
  • Jane Argiero

    This is a wonderful perspective. The same thing can be said about the day itself. The wedding day is just one day of thousand. The marriage itself will grow and unfold and become more beautiful with
    time. You are very wise.

    Reply
  • Laura Jacobs

    “But, this is who I am body and soul. And I don’t want to begin this marriage with fake nails and extensions. Physical, spiritual, and emotional honesty is where it’s at. Even when it is scary, and even when that vulnerability feels like the biggest risk in the world.” This is inspiring, truly.

    Reply
  • Marvia

    Anna
    Beautiful words, and I like you made it plain that you weren’t just sitting around waiting. You lived. You really gave life your all, and I’m sure you’ll continue to do so even when married. Thanks for sharing your brave words. They matter!

    Reply

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