Dressed in White
Describing in detail what it feels like to have allergy and sinus problems is something I have successfully failed to accomplish, but let’s give it another shot. If you are on the losing side of allergies you can skip this section because you already know exactly what I am about to say. If you are one of the blessed who has no idea what I am talking about, take a seat.
Itchiness is your first indication that an attack is about to begin. You contemplate how you could physically move outside your skin, hopeful this action would alleviate the itching. Said itching may be contained to the head or all over the body. And the ridiculous part is that you know scratching will only scratch the surface of relieving the itch. Literally.
Next, your nose must weigh in. Sneezing, dripping snot, and a blocked airway all happen in perfect harmony leaving you wondering how it is actually possible to have anything coming out of an opening that doesn’t even allow the passing of air. For those of us who descended from my Granny, the sneezing must happen in groups of 5-at least. I have spent many a night with Kleenex stuffed inside each nostril. Gross.
Because of the drainage, your glands become swollen and a sore throat quickly follows. Not only does swallowing now hurt but sometimes, swallowing in and of itself is an irritant which leads to more itching and even more sneezing.
The rest of the body is not off the hook. Usually there is a slight tingling and weakness; the body is at war fighting off the allergen. And bonus, you often have no idea where the culprit behind the attack came from.
After several months of these attacks happening with increased frequency, climaxing one terrible night, I sat up very gingerly the next morning, my eyes surveying the pile of Kleenex from the night before. I lifted my head, trying to convince myself that yes, I could actually get out of bed, and my gaze fell on the picture on the night stand. Like many people have beside the bed, there stood a picture from my wedding day. I looked at my beautiful white wedding dress, then to the messy pile of white Kleenexes on the floor.
This is real life.
I started thinking back to the innocent girl in the photo, the one who would certainly prove everyone wrong, being the exception to the rule. People fight in marriage, sure, but not us. We would be different. Wives get frustrated with their husbands but not this wife. I would be different. Over six years later, the hopeful and naïve girl from the picture is living a different reality. But it is just that-reality. Not fairytale or wishful thinking but real life.
Most of us go into marriage with sweet, yet false, expectations. Sure, we were told what it would be like but somewhere in the advice we got lost in thinking they must not know us. But just like going to college or giving birth or just about everything else in life, you don’t really know what it will be like until you experience it for yourself.
Deep in thought glancing from the wedding picture to the Kleenex, I was brought back to the present as my husband was getting ready for work. The lights now on, water running in the sink, and my baby sounding the wake up cry, I was also reminded of something else that no one can prepare you for: the joys of marriage and family. Along with the advice of the tough times, we were also told how great it is to walk through life with a better half. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Throughout the rest of the day these thoughts were on my mind. To take it one step further, this reality isn’t even the real, real reality. Do you remember when Paul is giving a charge to Timothy towards the end of his first letter? He says that those who are rich should do good, be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. The purpose of this is to “lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of life that is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:19) While this passage is not specifically addressing marriage, there is a lesson that is transferable to all walks of life: life that is truly life has everything to do with what, or rather who, is unseen. Our reality is found in Christ.
At this point you may be wondering where in the world I am going with this but hang with me. Life, true life, has little to do with what is actually happening and everything to do with what each action represents. My role as a wife has little to do with housekeeping and love notes and date nights. The mystery of being a wife actually represents the mystery of Christ and the church. It is a similar concept to Hebrews 10 speaking of the law being a shadow of what is to come. But the reality is found in Christ. (Colossians 2:17)
The reality is found in Christ.
So neither what I thought about marriage (white dress) nor my physical reality today (white Kleenex) are even the reality. I have a great marriage and wonderful life, but if I am not living clothed in the eternal white dress as the bride of Christ, this life is for not. I want it to be said of me as it was said for the church in Sardis, “[She] will walk with me, dressed in white, for [she] is worthy.” (Revelation 3:4)
The white dress of the bride of Christ. This white is the reality. And for this reality to be true for eternity it must start being true today. Put on your wedding dress because reality, real reality, is found only in Christ.