What Ifs and White Dresses

What Ifs and White Dresses

Ask any woman what she’s feeling when she enters a bridal store and you’re likely to get a wide array of answers. Excitement. Nerves. Happy tears. Sad tears. Joy.

But what you are also likely to hear, if you asked certain women and told them they could be completely honest with you, is an emotion you may be surprised by: fear.

I thought about all of this as I walked through the doors of my local David’s Bridal this past weekend to pick up a bridesmaid dress for a dear friend’s wedding. I had just been in the store a few months prior, playing dress-up with another friend as we tried on different options and hosted our own fashion show that made the consultants laugh. I had a great time that night, and I’m truly excited and honored to be in my friend’s wedding this summer.

This weekend though, I walked in alone. And as I stood and waited for the kind employee to grab my dress from the back, I found myself staring at the aisles of white dresses, all with different fabrics and styles. All beautiful in their own way. All dresses I would happily try on.

But all dresses I may never try on. Because what if my time as a bride never comes? It’s a sobering “what if” to face on some days.

Growing up, I felt sure it would happen. The message of “someday your prince will come” was quietly woven into so many experiences and discussions: attending church youth group, listening to older Christian women, reading books written by people who had passed from the single world to the married world and were happy to talk about it, and, inevitably, Disney movies.

And I know I am not alone in this. My friend Holly recently wrote about her ongoing longing for a significant other, and Joy Beth Smith, another friend, points out in her (great) book, Party of One:

“It’s hard to live in this tension of desperately wanting something and never knowing when or if it will come. We need to actively cling to promises that are in Scripture: promises that God will never leave us, promises of his control in all things, promises of his goodness, promises that the trials of this world pale in comparison to the glory of what is to come. These are sure things.

A husband is not a sure thing.

We can’t continue to put prophecies in the Lord’s mouth and call it comfort. We can’t believe these promises and call them sound theology.”

Somewhere along the way, I bought into the assurance, both given to me verbally by well-meaning people and an assurance I whispered to myself because I wanted it to be true, that a husband would come. I just had to wait, right?

If I’m being honest, it’s less painful to believe that assurance. Because that assurance guarantees this single phase ends. That made-up assurance makes this ache lessen and not seem so everlasting on certain days. That assurance means this period of my life has an expiration date at some point, only to be immediately followed by a new, exciting phase.

But the truth is that I don’t know if this will end.

The only thing I do know, the only thing in this life I am truly sure of, is that God is good. Whether this longing is ever fulfilled or not. I’m not repeating this because it’s an easy truth to accept. It is not. To be completely honest, I have my days with God where I’m mad about this. Or sad. I want the assurance. I want to try on those white dresses. Even though I am very aware of the fact that marriage is not a finish line of any sort, I still want to cross it.

But if I’m focusing on what Scripture tells me, what it actually promises, what I know is that I am never alone. Or forgotten. Or unloved. My life has a purpose and meaning, whether or not I have a ring on it or a white dress moment.

These assurances may not lessen the pain of the hard days, the days of walking into David’s Bridal or sitting on my couch alone. They don’t fully erase my “What ifs.” But those are the assurances that are good and true, and God alone is the assurance I have.

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