What dignity is
Dignity is the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect. It is a way of appearing or behaving that suggests seriousness and self-control. When someone displays this trait, he shows it to those around him, no matter their social status. It is a reserve and a seriousness of manner.
When I think of someone we know who has dignity, I think of Queen Elizabeth. Well-known the world over, she exhibits humor and grace as she performs her many royal duties. Everywhere she goes, she is the picture of charm, grace, and dignity. No doubt she was prepared for this role as a child. There are some things you do not do and do not say when you are a part of the royal family. She knows those things and fulfills the obligations necessary for her role.
When we think of an event that shows dignity, we remember the appearance of grandeur and properness. The event proceeds properly, all things are done in order, with no sloppiness in how things are handled. There is also beauty in the theme of the event – in the way things are done and in the aesthetics of the event.
Titus 2:7, 8 says: In everything, show yourself to be an example by doing good works. In your teaching show integrity, dignity, and wholesome speech that is above reproach, so that anyone who opposes us will be ashamed to have nothing bad to say about us . . . .
What dignity does
Dignity validates a person; it verifies the importance and significance of the other person. Dignity is not just about who I am; it is about who the other person is, and it affirms the worth of the other person.
My aunt was the persona of dignity. An excellent seamstress and cook with a lovely voice, she moved in a manner of poise and purpose. She could have sung anywhere or been anyone, but she chose to raise her children with her husband on their farm. Aunt Mabel dignified motherhood. Her sister Kate said of her, “Mabel could have been a seamstress, or a chef, or a teacher, or a nurse, or a singer. She chose to be a mother, and to be all of them.”*
I remember the day she and my uncle visited in our home. Following the meal, there was conversation in the living room. Aunt Mabel turned to me and my younger sister and asked us questions about our lives and our world. By this time, she was a grandmother herself and had over sixty nieces and nephews. She had plenty to focus on in her world at this time of her life. Yet she took the time to validate who I was and what was important to me. In those few moments in the living room, I was the most important person in the world to Aunt Mabel. I think of that experience often and remember my aunt when I attempt to relate to others. I have thought, had I asked her to tell me how she did this, I might have learned. Yet I already know because I watched her and know how I felt in her presence. Aunt Mabel knew who she was, and her value was not dependent on others’ opinions. That is how and why she gave value and worth to others.
God’s Word on Dignity
Titus 2:7, 8 tells us, “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”
The clothing of a woman who exhumes virtue is strength and dignity.
How’s your dignity? I know mine needs some work.
Perhaps, in this new year, we can focus on putting on dignity when we dress for the day. There is much strength in dignity. Let’s not forget that.
*Homecoming – The Life and Stories of Jonas B. and Barbara Swartzentruber Miller, Lulu Online Printing, June 2012, “Mabel”, Gertrude M. Slabach, editor, page 158.