When Tilly Dunnage returns to the town of her childhood, armed with a Singer sewing machine, she hopes to repair the wounds of the past. Hounded out as a ten year old, and accused of a terrible childhood happening, she immediately creates a stir on returning, with her beauty and her dress code.
Tilly begins to transform some of the other women in her town, with her skills as a dressmaker, giving them a new look and increased self-confidence. Tilly is desperate to earn their acceptance, but the shadows of the past hang heavy and the outer changes she brings prove in some ways to be merely superficial.
‘Man looks at the outward appearance, while God looks at our heart.’ It’s true that when we are at peace with ourselves, able to accept who we are, this can be expressed in a healthy self-image. At times in my life I have felt more confident, and appeared so. But I suffer from mood-swings in this area, and at other times my lack of confidence has been there on show too. I’m glad that the Bible makes the above statement about the inner and outer appearance in the book of 1 Samuel 16 v 7. God sees beyond the outer shell. Some folks are naturally smoother, better-looking, with a keen sense of style. Some spend their lives playing catch up, while others are happily oblivious. And some have always felt like they’ll never look right. Tilly scores some jaw-dropping transformations with her gift as a dressmaker, but the changes don’t go deep. Something else is needed if these hearts are going to be softened and renewed. The kindness of God expressed through the caring of others.
I can think of those times when others have taken an interest in me, have shown kindness, patience and generosity to encourage me, bring out the best and help me keep going. I hope that I have learned from that, and am able to pass on that encouragement to others. Tilly is an incredible seamstress, I can’t sew to save my life. But I guess I have other gifts that can be offered to help others. I think heaven applauds our attempts as we offer what we can do, no matter how great or small.