Before I left for Alaska and my cat died, I started a series about my closet. I got a little carried away and what started out as 5 stories about 5 items of clothing, turned into 12 stories about 12 items. (Here is Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them.)
This is the final post about a topic near and dear to all your hearts: my clothes.
The following 4 items of clothing have stories behind them- reasons I won’t ever throw them away and I smile every time I put them on. They hang in my closet as reminders of God’s goodness. Here are their stories.
9) My red and white striped bathing suit cover-up.
This started out as a church dress, but I am terrible at doing laundry and shrunk it so much it became inappropriate for God’s house. However, I recycled it and turned it into a cover-up that shows up at Bass Lake every year.
The next summer I was engaged and taking jumping pictures with my fiancé!
Clearly a lot can change in a year.
One of the reasons I love Bass Lake so much is that it never seems to change. The Forks, the beloved local burger joint, is still decorated how it was in the 60’s. The mountains never move. And the lake remains the same.
Until this year.
This year the California drought has devastated not only our state, but also our family traditions. The lake was drained and couldn’t be refilled this year, so for the first time in 50 years, the Vander Dussen clan is not going to Bass Lake.
I know this is a first-world problem: we have to vacation at the beach instead of the mountains! The horror!
But it’s more than just the mountains we will miss. We will miss the place that has been a constant in our lives since birth. Everything around us changes all the time, but we always knew we could go back to Bass Lake and it would be exactly the same.
So there is something deeply disturbing about our ever-constant lake suddenly becoming inconsistent.
It reminds me that God truly is the only constant in our lives. I go to Bass Lake seeking a place of refuge and consistency, but I don’t have to drive 5 hours to find that. I can find it when I open my Bible. Or when I look up and talk to the creator.
My shrunken, striped cover-up will be worn at the beach this year, but it will continue to remind me of Bass Lake. It will also remind me that though our lake might change, our God will not.
10) My grey jacket
I love this jacket because it is long in the back and covers my butt. But I love it for more than just the butt coverage.
From a young age, Megan and I have enjoyed matching each other. Whether it was our DARE t-shirts, or matching body suits, we have always loved twinning. Megan lives in Colorado now but we still like to match. For my most recent birthday, she bought two of these tank tops:
One for me and one for her. And she’s not even Dutch.
All the matching clothes I have with Megan remind me that God truly does go before us to prepare the way. Only He knows what lies around the corners of our lives and in what ways we need to be strengthened and equipped.
Only God knew the friend I made in first grade would be a source of joy and comfort for the rest of my life. I had no idea how much I would rely on friends like Megan, but God did. He knew how rich my life would be if I had dear, true friends with whom to share it. So He provided the friends. And we provide each other with matching clothes.
11) My traveling pants
Paul named my striped yoga pants my “traveling pants” because I wear them every time I get on a plane. Can’t blame a girl for wanting to be comfy. They were given to me as a gift from my mom a few Christmas’s back. Every year I would get one more present than my siblings. A “sorry-you-don’t-have-a-husband-to-buy-you-presents” kind of present. One year it was these pants.
At first I was a little insulted by the extra gift. I don’t need your pity and I don’t need a husband to be happy! But then I remembered how much I love presents, so I swallowed my pride and proceeded to wear the pants everywhere I went.
When I enrolled in Biola’s seminary, these pants became part of my uniform. I wore them to almost every class along with an oversized Westmont sweatshirt. I used my clothes to make 2 things very clear to my classmates.
1- I was not here looking for a husband. If I was, surely I would have dressed cuter.
2- Even though I was at Biola, my true loyalty still lied with Westmont.
Please disregard our demon eyes; I assure you we are all very holy.
My traveling pants reminded me that even though I didn’t have a husband, God was still lavishing His gifts on me. I had a sweet family that gave me extra presents, the money and freedom to travel all over the country visiting friends, and the ability to go to seminary and take classes I loved and meet guys like the ones in the picture who encouraged and affirmed me for two years.
The pants took on new meaning this past Christmas.
She had no idea the shirt matched my old pants perfectly. But God did. And how like Him to remind me that while I only knew about the pants, He knew a matching shirt was coming…. along with a husband.
Some girls grow up dreaming about their wedding day. They envision the dress, the flowers, the cake. All they need is the groom. They make secret Pinterest boards where they pin engagement rings, center pieces, and Save-the-Date ideas.
In all the dreaming and scheming, many of them pin their hopes and dreams to a lie: once I get the white dress, I will be content.
I wasn’t one of the little girls dreaming about her white dress (mainly because I was a morbid little kid who thought I would die young), but I confess that I did subconsciously start to believe the lie that only a white dress could bring contentment.
Our culture perpetuated that lie. Well-meaning middle-aged women told me, “One day it will be your turn.” People with good intentions asked me more about my dating life than about my opinions or my career or my travels, seeming to imply that my singleness was the most important thing about me.
But I have wonderful friends who told me the truth.
My married friends admitted that a white dress doesn’t bring happiness. It does change your life dramatically and it is a wonderful change, but that didn’t make my single life any less wonderful. They admitted to envying my free time and ability to travel and explore and do whatever I wanted. They saw me as a whole person- not just the single side of myself. And they encouraged me to find contentment in Jesus- not in the hope of a man one day sweeping me off my feet and ending all my sadness and loneliness.
They assured me that nothing was wrong with me and that while marriage is fantastic, so is being single.
I thought about this yesterday as I ate eggs with Hilary on the patio of her new condo. Hilary is a beautiful, intelligent, hilarious, God-fearing, compassionate, creative, energetic woman. She also happens to be single. But that’s not who she is. She may not have a white dress, but she already has the joy, the peace, and the contentment I used to think came only with marriage.
Don’t get me wrong: marriage brings an immense amount of joy. I absolutely LOVE being married to Paul. But I think there is great danger in making the white dress the end game. If we tell little girls they are not complete until they are wed, that a husband will satisfy all their needs, well then we’re telling them lies.
Only Jesus completes us.
No one can ever satisfy us completely except for our Savior.
Let’s not pin our hopes and dreams on a future spouse who will never know us as intimately as God does.
I love my wedding dress, but my life was not made complete once I slipped it on. I found contentment long before I found Paul and the white dress hanging on the wall. And I still feel sad and misunderstood at times, even with a ring on my finger and a new last name.
Marriage doesn’t cure all of life’s problems.
Only Jesus does.
But let’s be honest, it sure is fun to twirl in your wedding dress and dance with your new husband: