A few months ago I was at my parents' home looking through my mom's hope chest. I have so many fond memories of that hope chest as a young girl. I would open it up, breathe in the smell of cedar, and look through all of my mom's treasures. Her wedding dress, her going away dress, a few other special dresses she had saved, some beautiful hair combs, and special jewelry. I knew my mom didn't have a lot growing up, so the items in that hope chest were indeed precious. In high school, during homecoming week we had "dress up" day. I wore one of my mom's pink dresses with vintage white hose that had a seam running down the back. I was the only one dressed like that and received a few sarcastic comments from other kids, but I didn't care. Even then I was in my own little vintage world.
My mom gave me one of her dresses that day I was over. It's from 1958 and absolutely lovely. It's missing a belt and a button, and has a few stains on it, but I wore it last Sunday. I decided that it didn't need the belt and the button, or be free of stains for me to wear it to church.
And that got me thinking about my heart.
I turned forty-five in October and I've been pondering what I would like the second half of my life to be like. I don't want to one day look back at my life and say, "Oh yes, that's when I made the choice to live full of my self, but empty my soul." And that can happen so easily. Running after happiness that I feel eluded me the first half of life. Chasing after empty pleasure the way a dog chases its tail. Those times in life when it's tempting to trade wisdom for moments of euphoria and the pursuit of a Hollywood ending. We don't have to totally go off the deep end for that to be us, either. Isn't it easy to point out someone else's "big" flaws rather than think of the ways we fall short? What about those "small" compromises we make many times along the way? We work extremely hard at trying to control our lives to secure happiness and avoid disappointment.
The older I get and the longer I walk with Jesus, the more I realize that this is where my true happiness is. I remember singing the hymn in church when I was younger, "Sweeter as the years go by...richer, fuller, deeper, Jesus' love is sweeter." I didn't know the depth of that hymn then, but I am experiencing the truth of it now. I hope the second half of my life is a picture of perseverance. Of struggling well to continue to be who God created me to be even in the midst of heartache. I think my journey will look a lot like my mom's dress. It's not perfect. There are some stains. Some things have been lost along the way. But it still has a purpose and even though it shows its years, the fact that it is worn and has lasted this long, makes it more beautiful.