The Hand Me Down Gown


I have a beautiful gown in my closet…in a box. I preserved my wedding dress because my husband convinced me that one day, it might be something one of our daughters will want to use. It used to be the tradition that daughters would wear their mother’s wedding gowns, but in our day it has become a rarity. In an age when people are fighting to establish their uniqueness and individuality, wearing something that reflects someone else’s choice just doesn’t seem all that appealing, I guess.

So, although I honored my husband’s suggestion and preserved the dress, I don’t have high hopes that it will ever be used. Except for the littlest one, my daughters have all made it very clear that they will want to choose their own dresses which reflect their own sense of style. I get it. No hard feelings.

Yet, there is something that stirs in my heart each time I think about this trend toward doing our own thing. I wonder what, if anything, is being preserved from one generation to the next? Even our ceremonies have become an anything-goes kind of deal. Tradition is usually abandoned in favor of choosing what each bride wants for herself and her party.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some very unique, creative, and beautiful weddings, and have still walked away deeply moved. I am a fan of unique and creative, and because I didn’t have any traditions passed down in my family, my own wedding was quite different than most people have ever seen. The planning and the participating were equally fun and left quite an impression on our guests.

Still, there is this question that often rises in my heart, refusing to go away unanswered:

What, if anything, are we passing down to the next generation? Are our gowns, symbolic of so much more than just a sense of style, worthy to be handed down? Is there anyone who will want what we have so carefully chosen to wear?

I don’t care, in all honesty, that my daughters don’t want to wear my wedding gown. What I do care about, however, is that they will want the heart of the woman who wore it. When I put that gown on, I was making a statement about who I was, and what I was choosing to become. Not just a wife, but a woman under authority. A woman in submission to a vow. A woman committed to standing through the tests and trials of time and trouble. A woman determined to trust God when man might fail to be all he had pledged to be. A woman who, although beautified on the outside, was well aware of her own hidden faults, and committed to facing and dealing with them.

I want to see a generation want the womanhood I wear. Not because I am so wonderful, but because, before I wore the gown, I was so wretched. Marriage has changed me. Not just marriage to my husband, but marriage to my Jesus. My covenant with God empowers me to keep my covenant with my husband. It enables me to rise up each day with the fresh intention to love, and keep on loving; to serve, and keep on serving; to try, and keep on trying. To be a woman who refuses to quit…in marriage and in life.

I wonder if there are any women who would want that kind of gown? Of course, I am speaking in metaphors here. I am not talking so much about the clothes we wear, but about the women we become. The Bible speaks to this when it says to “take off the old man” and “put on the new” (Ephesians 4:22-24). It also tells us that Jesus clothes us with a gown of righteousness that is like the Groom’s headdress or the Bride’s jewels (Isaiah 61:10). This refers to the people we become on the inside, because of God’s love. Being in covenant with Him, through faith, changes us, and we begin to live lives that reflect on the outside what has been transformed on the inside.

This births a two-fold burden in my heart for women today: first, that we would choose to be women whose “gowns” are preserved and valuable, even attractive, to the next generation. I’m talking about becoming women whose stories are like treasure preserved for the young women whose lives are currently saturated by costume jewelry, trinkets that pretend to be treasures but are really worth nothing. Are you wearing a reputation, a character, worthy to be handed down, Dear Woman of Breakthrough? Will anyone be honored to wear what you’ve worn one day, to follow in your footsteps, to pick up where you left off?

The second burden is that we would see a generation of young women who want more than their own way. I think, however, that this leads right back to the first burden: we must show them something worth preserving. We must wear our gowns well. We must become models to them which, although they may not be able to appreciate it now, will beckon them back to the ancient paths – as the Bible calls our appointed lifestyle – when they lose their way.

Dear Woman of Breakthrough, is your life worth handing down, or is it all tattered and worn? Have you lived the adventure without taking the care to preserve your honor and dignity, so that someone else may one day possess something to model their own lives after? Are you living for your own pleasure and preference, or are you living with someone else in mind – those who will one day decide whether to keep or toss what you’ve handed down to them?

My feelings won’t be hurt if my daughters don’t choose to wear my wedding gown on their own wedding day. But I do hope and pray that my gown, all nice and preserved in its beautiful box, will become a treasure to them which tells the story of a life they desire to live. I pray that my gown, handed down through my generations, will become an emblem of womanhood designed by God, and that my daughters and granddaughters will tell everyone about the life I lived and passed on to them. I hope they will be as proud of that gown one day as I was on the day I wore it.

And I hope and pray that they will wear their own gowns well so that they, too, will have something worth passing on.

Dear Woman of Breakthrough, it is not too late to preserve your gown. You are a Bride to Christ, and His unfailing love can beautify you and your life in such a way that others will want what you have. This is the only hope for our world: a love that beautifies instead of betrays. If you don’t know where to find a gown like that, you can borrow mine until it becomes your own. Together, we can live out this call to be women of honor, women clothed in Christ’s amazing grace and love, and women who carry something worth passing down.

{Photo Images courtesy of}


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