Sharon’s heart ached as she watched her daughter through the bridal boutique glass. Elsie looked so radiant standing in front of the three-way mirror, dressed in a beaded and lace gown. The cap sleeve bodice with its illusion neckline, hugged her soft curves, her silky curls spilling from the matching veil. As beautiful and sweet as ever.
Sharon rested her hand on the glass, thinking back to Elsie’s seventh grade year. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon, Harold had been out of town, and Sharon decided to use the opportunity to enjoy some mall time with her daughter. It was one of their favorite mother-daughter activities.
On this afternoon, a silken gown lured them into a boutique filled with formals of every style and color.
“Come on.” Sharon smiled and squeezed her daughter’s hand, laughter bubbling within. “What do you say we try some of these on?”
Elsie’s grin broke out full force, her eyes dancing, and Sharon could contain her laughter no longer. Turning to the racks, the two pulled out dress after dress until their arms could hold no more and then scurried, giggling, to the dressing rooms.
Oh, my sweet princess. How I miss you.
“She’s going to make a radiant bride.”
Sharon spun around, her breath catching, to find her mother standing beside her carrying a Neiman Marcus bag.
“Mother.” Sharon straightened, blinking away the threat of tears. “What are you doing here?”
“Same as you, dear. Watching Elsie prepare for her big day. The only difference is, I plan to be part of it.” She moved toward the door handle then turned back around. “As should you.”
Sharon breathed deep, exhaled slowly. “Then you condone this?” She swept her hand toward the shop.
Her mother looked at Elsie, her eyes softening, then faced her daughter once again. She shrugged. “Who am I to judge? They love each other. Deeply. And Jack is a good man.”
“As is Elsie.”
Sharon stiffened, crossing her arms. “Because of Jack.”
Her mother cocked her head. “I’m not so sure.” She studied her daughter for a long moment. “She’d been asking some very difficult questions for some time. You yourself said she was seeking.”
“Yeah, well, I expected her seeking to strengthen her faith, not change it.”
“What if she’s right. About Jesus, I mean?”
Sharon shook her head. “I can’t believe you, of all people, would ask that.”
“She’s always been such a deep thinker, and so very sensitive to the things of God. So I ask again, what if she’s right. What if Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah? What if in her search for God, He led her to this new faith? To Jack?”
Sharon turned back toward the store, staring at the empty spot where her daughter once stood, then watching as she reemerged wearing yet another gown.
“It doesn’t matter.” She smoothed her hair behind her ears and lifted her purse higher on her shoulder. “Her father has made his wishes clear. I cannot defy him in this. His heart has been broken enough as it is.”
“As has Elsie’s.”
A sharp pain stabbed at the back of Sharon’s throat as tears welled to the surface.
Her mother turned to face her and took hold of both of her hands. “Talk to him.”
Thanks to Stacey Zinks and Susan Aken for suggesting this ending! (And to everyone else who made suggestions. I loved them all, but as a mom of a princess, this one resonated with me. Plus I was able to squeeze a real memory in this scene. I once took my daughter to try on gowns, just for fun, and it was a blast! I loved seeing her eyes light up with each new dress, and I’m pretty sure there’s nothing that could keep me from her wedding day. Now let’s just hope Sharon feels the same! Come back August 4th to read more!
For some, the fourth of July is a celebration of freedom; for others it is a reminder of bondage. Of pain. Of fear. Of hopelessness. But there is a hope that is deeper, a love that is truer, and a freedom that no one can ever snatch away.
How can one take a step toward that freedom when the road appears shrouded with insecurities and doubts? These pages contain numerous stories: a woman longing to start again but bound by the failures of her past; a young man who, upon reaching adulthood, must face his fears of death; a woman offered a chance of true love but held back by crippling insecurities.
Is God even there? Does He care…enough to reach down and pull these men and women from the messes they’ve landed in, some of them by their own hand?
Freedom. Peace-saturated, joy-infusing freedom.
We pray our stories demonstrate what it looks like in the day-to-day…and provide a little insight into how one grabs hold of that treasured state of heart and mind.