I have declared myself the unofficial Queen of Thrift Shopping! I have always been a thrifty shopper, whether it be for groceries, household goods or clothing. I’ve come to enjoy shopping that way, considering it a challenge to find the best deal possible for the best quality possible. Over the years I’ve developed a pretty good instinct and eye and brought home some great deals. Saving $150 in coupons on groceries, cutting my make-up bill in half at Ulta, finding that clearance top for $.49 at Ross last Spring, whatever I’m shopping for, I’ve tried to learn to use my money wisely.
Last week, however, I think I may have achieved my greatest thrift shopping coup yet! My find of a lifetime! My crowning glory! One of our local thrift stores is an outlet store for the main store. This is where all the surplus, leftover items that do not sell get sent. The clothing then gets sorted simply into men’s, women’s and children’s, tossed into bins and sold by the pound. It’s like digging through the $5 DVD bins at Walmart! It can be a treasure chest or a trash heap depending on your luck that day. It takes patience to dig through, as well as strength, as the piles can get pretty hoppin’ heavy! It also helps to have a good eye, know good fabrics and good name brands. If you look at every single item you’ll get bored quickly and go a little batty.
I was on my third bin of women’s clothing when a swatch of deep red silk fabric caught my eye. I carefully moved the items on top of it off to the side to pull it from underneath and saw that it still held a price tag – highly unusual. When I saw the tag I almost dropped my drawers! Elie Tahari! It was a brand new Elie Tahari dress! Price tag – $448! I quickly inspected the dress. No stains, no snags, no rips. Perfect condition! The size? Mine! As you can imagine, it practically flew on the wings of angels into my cart! I grabbed a few other items from the store and left, happily paying significantly LESS THAN A DOLLAR for my beautiful designer dress!
But, the story doesn’t end there. If it did, we’d have a good shopping deal, but that’s all, and we have much more than that. As Paul Harvey use to say, now for the rest of the story…
You see Elie Tahari has always been one of my favorite clothing designers. Though I’ve never been able to afford any of his clothing, I’ve always admired his beautiful, classic, feminine designs. They’re timeless. About 12 years ago, give or take, Mr. T and I were out shopping and happened to wander through Macy’s who carried some of Mr. Tahari’s clothing. As I stopped to admire some suits and dresses I said to Mr. T, “If I ever lose weight and actually reach my goal weight, I’m going to find a way to treat myself to one of his dresses.” It’s one of those statements you make, never really thinking you’ll ever have to follow through with it. I know Mr. T never thought of it again. I did, though. I thought of it many times over the years, but I never thought much of it because #1 – I never thought I’d lose the weight and #2 – I never thought I’d be able to afford one of Tahari’s dresses.
Fast forward 12 years. Here we are, July 2016, and I’ve done it! I’ve lost the weight. I’m 2 pounds from my goal weight! (Darn those 2 pounds!) I’m out on a casual thrift shopping trip like any other, thinking nothing of that statement 12 years earlier, when suddenly that Tahari dress appears, brand new, in my size, at my price, right before me, and suddenly, I’m Cinderella!
Now, can I make a confession? I’ve felt a little like Cinderella lately. Oh, not the “ballgown, prince and glass slipper” version of Cinderella that we usually think of, rather the insignificant, forgotten, lonely Cinderella we see at the beginning of the story. The one who makes friends with mice just to have someone to talk to and pass her lonely existence. I’ve been feeling that Cindy lately. She tried to be positive – making friends with the critters, singing her way through her chores, and with high hopes making her own dress from scraps for the ball – only to have the realities of life – those evil step-sisters – rip it all to shreds. We all remember the scene as the evil sisters and stepmother ride off to the ball and poor Cinderelly runs to the back yard, under the tree and cries in despair. That’s how I was feeling. That’s the Cinderella I was channeling. And I was channeling Cindy as I went into the thrift shop that day. I had to get out of this house. I had run to the thrift shop, needing to “shop!” in despair.
Well, we all know the end of Cindy’s fairy tale, the handsome prince brings the glass slipper and they ride off to his castle and live happily ever after. We all wish we lived in such a fairy tale sometimes. But, I’ve got Cindy’s story beat! You see, my despair wasn’t answered by a prince with a slipper. My story was answered by the KING with a dress! I may not have remembered that promise to myself about that dress from 12 years ago, but God did! The God who loves me enough to die for me used a dress to say, “Others may not hear you, but I hear you. Others may not know the desires of your heart, but I do. You may not feel significant to anyone else, but you are significant to me.”
The God who holds the universe in place; the God who sees every heart, knows the good and the evil and will someday judge it all, knows and cares about ME! Isn’t that an awesome thought?! And he knows me well enough to know what encourages my heart, what says love to me! He understands me! For some of you, having that dress appear would mean nothing to you. But, God knows what would speak to me. Like two young lovers who have their own special jokes and looks, as he’s done many times before, God sends things that are just between us, things he knows only he and I will understand, to remind me that I am His, I am loved and I am not forgotten. How wonderful to be known and understood so deeply and so truly. The Bible tells us in Psalms 139: 1 – 4: “You have searched me, Lord, and know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down. You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you, Lord, know it completely.”
So, Cindy can keep her prince with his castle and his happily ever after. I have The King of Kings who’s prepared for me a mansion and that’s for ETERNITY! Eat your heart out Cinderella!