Picking out my perfect wedding dress was surprisingly easy. I always dreaded shopping, because nothing ever seemed to fit my short, boxy frame. So when I tried on my dress from the first round of picks, I was thrilled. Maybe the bridal glow had cured my body insecurity! Or maybe not…
When Braylon and I got engaged, I was the smallest I had been since high school, which is a pretty great place to be when planning your wedding.
Still, my weight can fluctuate dramatically from month to month, not to mention the six months from when I tried on my wedding dress in the store to when I would wear it in front of 200 people. Not to mention, I didn’t include diet and exercise into my wedding planning checklist.
A month before my wedding, preparing for my final dress fitting and wondering how much weight I had gained, the bridal expectations overtook me.
My whole life, I imagined my wedding day as the day I would be my most stunning. Every guest would gaze upon my beauty as I glided down the aisle. My soon-to-be husband would wipe away the tear glistening in his eye as he admired my dress, hair, and makeup that had been carefully prepped and refined for this very moment. Years later, with a baby on my hip, I would look back on the photos of that day and think, “Man, was I a gorgeous bride or what?” and I would never feel insecure again because once upon a time, I was radiant–I was a bride.
But that wasn’t who I was each day. I was the girl who loved baseball hats because they allow you to go two extra days without washing your hair. The girl who will wear jeans in 90 degree weather because I haven’t shaved in a couple weeks.
The mental picture of my bridal beauty was missing a very important element: I would still be me. I wasn’t going to turn into a model on my wedding day, and I didn’t really want to.
I didn’t want to feel guilty about eating ice cream or enjoying Chipotle. If I looked a little goofy on my wedding day, so be it. That’s me, that’s who Braylon fell in love with, and that’s who people are coming to see at the wedding.
Thankfully, I did fit into my dress the day of the wedding. Yeah, it took a team to button it, and I had to show my sister how to tuck in my back fat the way the tailor did, but it fit.
Even though I didn’t look like a BRIDES magazine cover model, I was the same girl I am every other day of the year.
As a bride, I experienced more expectations for how to look, feel, and act than any other time in my life. Still, wedding planning is not the only time women feel pressure that steals their identity. In these seasons, it is important to remember who God says we are.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” – 1 John 3:1-2 (emphasis added)
Notice, none of these verses say, “Be a beautiful bride. Be a sentimental mother. Be a sweet, quiet young woman.” God offers an identity that is rooted in who HE is and what HE does. And what does He expect from us? To be like Him.
So next time you find yourself wavering under expectations from the world or from your own heart, reflect on God’s expectations and His promise to fulfill them for you. Then move forward as your truest self, a child of God.