I used to have my own little business where I took old, discarded fabric and I upcycled it into fancy things that people wear. My business was called Piccadilly Rose (which was a nickname I had for my first daughter, Annalee, when she was just a precious little baby flower who needed absurd nicknames). The motto or tag line for Piccadilly Rose was this:
Unique. Recycled. Lovely.
Years ago, I was a vendor at a women's conference where Jill Kelly (wife of that famous football guy, but proverbial rock star in her own right) was the keynote speaker. At that conference, in addition to selling my wares, I was invited to lead a breakout session and incorporate a crafting demonstration.
That was going to be easy. I mean, the whole concept of my business was taking garbage and making it into something unique, repurposed and lovely... it's all about taking what has been discarded and giving it new life, making it useful, restoring it's inherent beauty and worth. That was easy for me to speak about because that notion was not just the concept of my business, it's the concept of my whole life.
When I hold someone's wedding gown in my hands, and I see the dirty smudges at the hemline I can imagine the blushing bride’s dress dirty from dancing and accidentally getting stepped on by her eager, well-wishing wedding guests. I know that the gown tells a story of a day filled with hope and expectation... but I know how that story ended. I know that the reason that gown is no longer being preserved in hopes of handing it down to the little girl is because that happy day and those high expectations ended with an affair and heartache and disappointed hopes.
And the dress has been discarded.
When a young widow parts with the shirt and tie of her lost husband, knowing she will never see him dressed up in them again, I know the story of pain and parting that are held in those fibers.
And the shirt has been released.
When I pull apart an old, tattered tutu, I know that once upon a time there was nothing that made some little girl feel more divine than twirling in all that fluffy tulle. Eventually that little girl outgrew her tutu, and maybe even outgrew twirling. And more than likely, somewhere along the line she stopped, altogether, feeling divine.
And the tutu is forgotten.
What I do with the fabric is nothing special. I take that wedding gown and I cut and twist and singe and sew until something new emerges, something beautiful enough for a new bride.
I take the Daddy's shirt and tie, and I cut and twist and singe and sew until a pretty flower emerges for his little girls. I adorn a mirror so that for as long as they live they can look at their reflection and remember how their daddy saw them. And I twist and sew until a teeny neck tie replica of that big guy's tie appears.
I pull apart that useless tutu and I cut and twist and singe and sew it into something divine for the next little twirler.
That business never made me a lot of money. It does not take much skill, in fact my demonstration at the conference proved that it is something just about anyone can do. And it is not an original idea. I created these things in response to my God who is the ultimate creator. He also happens to be in the business of taking what the world says is garbage and making it into something beautiful.
This was the concept behind the business, but how much more has this been true in my life. I think of my own wedding dress, which was the size of a moderately large tent because when I walked down the aisle, I was 8 months pregnant, and not exactly feeling like the pure and beautiful bride. I think of the shirts I have that belonged to the one I loved and lost. I remember the tutus and dresses I twirled in, and I think of the invisible scars that were left on that little girl that made me stop twirling, and I think of when I stopped believing I was beautiful.
We all have these things though, don't we? We have all been told at one point or another that we are not enough, or that we are too much, that we don't have what it takes, that we are ugly, or stupid, or weak, that we are not worth protecting, that we are not worth fighting for. The world discards us, telling us that we cannot be used for good. We are not special, unique or lovely. There is nothing left.
And then there is this God.
There is this God who adores us. Who pursues us as we are, who begs us for all of it - the past, the sins, the pregnancy out of wedlock, the shame, the divorce, the broken relationship, the lies, the loss, the grief, the insecurity, the affair, the fear, the crippling self-doubt, the secrets, the abandonment, the rejection, the failure... He wants every bit of it.
And he doesn't want it like the world wants it. The world wants it to consume, to devour and feed off like gossip for entertainment or to shame us, but He wants it for one. pure. motive:
To redeem it. To redeem us.
He wants to take it, not to be consumed or used against us... But to be cut and twisted and singed and sewed into something much bigger and more beautiful than we could ever have imagined.
He wants to make all things new. He wants to make us new.
What if we actually let him?
This post was originally written on January 18, 2016 and has been lightly edited to reflect the passage of time.