I made this dress for my daughter’s blessing many years ago. She asked me to get it ready for this child’s blessing. It had aged some, with the lace turning creamy, and Barbara asked me to get it white again. I’m too old to take it all apart and sew it up with new lace, so I remembered about Rit Dye Remover. One night found me cooking dinner, simultaneously boiling up a dress in a pot on the stove.
It worked! After ten minutes stewing in the solution (which made our kitchen smell like a beauty parlor) everything was crisply white again, better than magic, and I found myself thinking about the idea of being made new again, utilizing the twin blessings of forgiveness and repentance.
I think back to that woman who made the original dress, me–some three decades ago. What was I concerned with then? Certainly raising the children right. My last child hadn’t even happened on the scene and I was ankle–no, knee-deep–in kids and house and home and relationships and fatigue and worry and sickness and health and picnics at the “gun park” (Westpoint, NY) and serving others (a tiny church in Newburgh, four church jobs and 4 other women I was assigned to visit with each month) and chaos (two boys and a baby girl) and isolation (we lived in the hills about 70 minutes away from NYC). Add in a strange marriage, a dog that kept running away, missing my mother and father and family, and probably a lot of wondering about just how it would all turn out.
I remember my parents making the trek out East to see me, bringing me a new set of scriptures in beautiful blue leather. They are still a treasure, although I moved on to a new set some years later. I think about that gift, what was being said in two books on crisp thin paper. Maybe they were saying: this is the best gift. Stand with these and you’ll figure everything else out. All that you’re going through can be made sense of if you apply what’s in here to your life.
Did I understand then about forgiveness/repentance? I thought I did. I thought I had a pretty good handle on things, wobbling as I did through an off-balance life.
But the woman who holds the child’s child in the photo above has a better view of those early years. (It’s certainly not as good as that baby’s great-grandmother, but it will do for now.)
Forgiving others, not withholding that critical component of the Lord’s gospel. Repenting when possible, because I figure I’m always in need of forgiveness. And somewhere between those two, a intense gratitude for these principles of life, a realization that the Lord has given me a chance to be happy, be thankful, in spite of scars, in spite of scarring.
It’s what makes life work. It’s a life’s work.