The Dress Looks Nice On You


Sufjan Stevens


Seven Swans

“The Dress Looks Nice on You”
Sufjan Stevens

“I can see a lot of bright in you, and I think the dress looks nice on you.”

I’ve fallen asleep to this song many times. It’s short, soft, and profound, while only repeating a few lines. When I hear the lyrics above, two thoughts come to mind.

The first is that I feel we too often hide our lack of confidence behind words like “humility” and “modesty” to keep ourselves grounded to the earth. We don’t allow ourselves to believe that we look beautiful, or bright, or worthy of everything that we are. We don’t try—because it’s easier to put ourselves down and wait to hear others tell us what we’re capable of than to actually do or risk anything. We forget that we hold inside of us untold beauty and worth.

On the other side, we also forget just how much of an impact words can have. It reminds me of the power of speaking love and encouragement. Many times, I go about my day not vocalizing the thoughts in my head, thinking praise of someone but never actually telling them so they can hear how much value they have.

What if we believed what is true about ourselves, and weren’t hesitant to say what is true about others?

“I can see a lot of life in you.”

My junior year of college, a good friend and mentor of mine gave me A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. I’ve never had anything change my life quite so much as that book. Suddenly I was aware of the concept of “story.” I was aware of what I was putting into my story and how I could speak love into others’ stories.

Too often, we allow ourselves to believe the little voice that says we were made for mediocrity and our lives don’t need to hold meaning. We think life is about studying hard, getting enough sleep, and not eating more than the recommended serving size of four Thin Mints. We go through life listlessly because nothing we do seems memorable. And in this, we forget what we are made for.

We are made for weddings and running barefoot through sunbeams and grass. We are made for stomping in puddles, watching sunrises, and long talks that last deep into the night. We are meant for adventures and for living stories with purpose.

We are destined for the kind of full life that others can’t help but see within us.

“It is so self-conscious, so apparently moral, simply to step aside from the gaps where the creeks and winds pour down, saying, I never merited this grace, quite rightly, and then to sulk along the rest of your days on the edge of rage. I won’t have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous and bitter, more extravagant and bright. We are making hay when we should be making whoopee; we are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.” —Annie Dillard