Having a baby is generally one of the most amazing experiences women can have in life. Yet, the process of labor and delivery can cause you to feel, well, uh . . . exposed.
One of my good friends and I had our first children within weeks of each other. As gals tend to do, we spent literally hours talking about the experience afterwards. Something she said about the nursing staff of the hospital we both delivered at really stuck with me. My friend said that she was so grateful for the way that the nurses always seemed to be mindful to preserve her dignity.
Whether we are having a baby, going on a first date, giving a big presentation at work, or doing something else monumental, we desire the preservation of our dignity.
Yet, the need for personal dignity is not limited to the monumental events in life. Dignity, more so, should permeate every aspect of our lives . . . everything from who we are (our identity) to what we do (our purpose).
At the moment we place our trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are given a new identity. Our identity is forever dignified because we are new in Christ. Our identity is in Him, and His dignity becomes ours in the eyes of God the Father.
[God the Father] made [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (1 Corinthians 5:21, NASB)
In addition to becoming the righteousness of Christ, we are privileged to be called chosen, holy, and dearly loved . . .
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12, NIV)
As a response to our position of dignity in Christ and having a new identity, we cannot help but to respond with renewed purpose. This verse in Colossians (my favorite, by the way), tells us that as people who are identified as chosen, holy, and dearly loved, we are to respond with compassion, kindness, gentleness, and patience.
Perhaps one of the the most well-known women in Scripture to personify such a life of purpose remains unnamed. You probably know her as the “Proverbs 31 woman.” Here is just a bit of what was said of her:
She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. (Proverbs 31:24-26, NASB, emphasis added)
Among other character qualities, this woman was a hard worker. She worked with her hands. She made quality goods and sold them at a fair price both to her and for the buyer. She was strong in her person and in character. A woman of integrity. A woman of dignity.
Her dignity was both her identity and her way of life. She was clothed in it. She did not fear the future. She smiled at it. She also shared the wisdom she had gained with others — no doubt, passing on dignity to younger women she influenced. What a woman!
There are many modern day “Proverbs 31 women” out there. I’ve been blessed to have some women pass on dignity to me throughout the years. Has someone shared dignity with you? Have you helped to show someone else how to be clothed in dignity?
My mind travels back to a time where although my identity was in Christ, I had not yet made much external progress in being “clothed in dignity.” Maybe you can relate to being “clothed in insecurity” during your high school days? Or another time frame?
This not so confident, scraggly haired girl was blessed to be able to meet almost weekly for a full school year with a woman who was clothed in dignity. My friend, Dyan, would show up faithfully at breakfast BEFORE school to share some dignity over a cup of coffee. It never registered with me at the time the level of sacrifice she was making for the opportunity to speak words of life and wisdom into the hearts of a few high school girls, but now I know. I know that she had a purpose and a vision greater than the unspeakable joys of sleeping in another hour or two. (I’m not being dramatic . . . sleeping in truly is unspeakable joy for me!)
Dyan is still being used by the Lord to share dignity. Although now, she may not call it dignity. Dyan would say that God has given her a passion to share Karama. My dear friend, Dyan Larmey, lives in Africa, and in the native tongue, karama means dignity.
In her own words, this is how Dyan’s story of Karama began in Africa:
While living in Ethiopia, I developed friendships with many women who seemed to have no way out of the poverty they were in. Many were selling local food, their own clothes, or even their bodies just to be able to send their children to school or to provide food for their elderly loved ones. They seldom thought about their own needs. These women were natural entrepreneurs and creators. We would brainstorm a little idea…give them a small skill to use and POOF they were off to try it…always creating and working hard to sell what they had made. They taught me so much about graciousness, value and dignity. I wanted to help them sell their products. I realized that every dollar spent on these products was a vote for these women to be successful. Karama was born.
God has been in the business of giving women dignity through the righteousness of His Son for many generations. From the woman in Proverbs 31 to mentors of high school girls meeting at the crack of dawn in local coffee shops to the ladies of Karama in Africa, women have been responding to their new identities in Christ by living with passion and purpose and, of course, dignity.
Is your karama (dignity) in Christ alone when it comes to your identity?
Is your life a response of passion and purpose, clothing you in karama (dignity)?
Are you passing karama (dignity) along to others who need the wisdom of someone who is a step or two ahead on this journey of life?
Would you like to learn more about Karama as an organization giving dignity to women in Aftrica? You can read the story of Karama’s history, plus you can shop the beautiful jewelry, scarves, ornaments, and other gifts that are helping to bring dignity to women who desire the same karama as you and I do.
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. (Proverbs 31:25)