Mandy’s heart leapt for joy when she viewed herself in the mirror. She looked very pretty in her wedding dress and she knew it. Her mother, Linda, knew it too.
If there were tears in Linda’s eyes, they were undoubtedly bittersweet. On the one hand she would be overwhelmed to see her precious daughter standing there looking and feeling so beautiful in her wedding gown. On the other hand, heartbroken at the knowledge that her daughter would not be getting married that day, nor any other for that matter.
Though Mandy stood adorned in white, she did not do so to show forth the purity of body in which a woman is supposed to present herself to her beloved on their most cherished day. No, Mandy’s innocence was of a different nature. Her body was unquestionably pure, but it was the simplicity of her child-like thoughts that made this day so very special.
Born with autism and mental retardation, Mandy’s thoughts remain in a perpetual state of childhood –playful and imaginative. Somewhere deep inside, she probably dreams of getting married someday even though she doesn’t really understand what that really means. But on this day, she only wanted to play dress up in a wedding gown so she could feel pretty and special.
Linda always attested to Mandy’s specialness, but not because of her disabilities. Every mother’s daughter is uniquely special because of her mother’s love, which is unconditional. Linda certainly acknowledges Mandy’s disabilities, but it is her great love for her child which motivates her to bring as much joy into Mandy’s life as she can. And so she headed to the second-hand store for a play dress.
The gown was not expensive, but to Mandy it was priceless. She gazed at herself in the mirror and began to happily sing, “Oh so pretty!” Linda was delighted. As pride welled-up inside her heart she thought “Mandy deserves to look and feel beautiful just like all girls do!”
The occasion turned into outright fun. Mandy continued to play bride and Linda was able to play mother of the bride. Just like any other ‘wedding day,’ pictures were taken and Linda would always have the memory of what her daughter would look like if she had ever been able to marry.
“Oh so pretty!” Yes, Mandy was a beautiful bride that day. She may not have walked down the aisle of a flower-filled church to wed, but she was a bride just the same. Linda proudly admired her daughter and tenderly assured Mandy that she is beautiful. Then, she aptly told her, “You are the bride of Jesus!”
Indeed, Jesus does liken his love for us as that of a bridegroom for His beautiful, virgin bride. We are all terribly flawed and “disabled” but He looks past that, embracing our uniqueness and our specialness because His love is pure and unconditional.
Someday, our bridegroom will come for us and take us to the eternal home that He has prepared. Till then, may we all be “dressed” and ready. And may we know that we are “Oh so pretty” to our Lord because we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: (Psalm 139:17,18a)
~Thank you Linda and Mandy for permitting me to share your story. I know that many of your friends were deeply touched, as was I, and I am thankful for the opportunity to help you touch other hearts by sharing your special mother/daughter experience with them. I know, Linda, that in recounting the details you said, “I’m the one that got blessed!” because you saw how happy Mandy was. I’m sure Jesus is also touched by the great love you show your daughter. Mandy is truly blessed to have you as a mother.