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Clothed in Dignity

by Anita Miles

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

Titus 2 : 3-4

A few weeks ago, my dad called me a little while after a death call he had received to go work with his job. Between our family of 3 RNs and my dad as the current coroner of his county, we have frequent forensic and pathology discussions. The actual details of this particular case for me are lost in the blur of all of the other conversations. I honestly couldn't tell you the first thing about this specific incident except for the fact that the deceased was a woman who appeared to be much older than she actually was. In this conversation, my dad ended the call with this one last haunting sentence... "Sin had taken all of her dignity from her!"

I know that it's close to Mother's Day and I'm not going to dwell on death and dying so close to such a vibrant holiday, so don't get nervous!! But I've tossed that one comment around in my brain for weeks on end. It's been a very thought-provoking comment that I simply cannot get away from! I have to tell you, as a mother of a young pre-teen daughter, this mental picture that sin creates of a soul has stirred me to my bones. Sometimes I'm not sure that we actually have the guts to contemplate just how glamorous the current culture has painted the depths of sin and the allure it is creating for every generation of women across the board! Thankfully, Scripture offers us hope in the picture it paints and a pattern to emulate of what a woman full of dignity through Christ looked like. Not just as a mother but as a woman in any phase of life.

There is something particularly intriguing to me about the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 that gives me a reason to bring the previous woman up! Proverbs 31:25 says that "Strength and honor are her clothing." Strength and honor here are interpreted to be her "dignity." It so consumed her, it was as though she wore it as her cloak! It was everything she was about! It was visible without being touchable! It could not be physically put on or removed, but it was a force around her that had profound influence! People saw her, and they knew that she was different. As one quote kind of humorously puts it, "The virtuous woman was like a flamingo that illuminates in a flock of pigeons!" According to Proverbs 31: 28, her children arise and call her blessed! Sounds like she was quite the Mom!! The heart of her husband trusted her! She was quite the wife! And her successes of being a friend to her own servants, being a servant to the homeless, and being a profitable business owner are not ignored.

In an age where women are celebrated for their aggressiveness and successes in a man's world, some days it's a real challenge to clothe ourselves in strength and honor as the expectations of societal norms weigh in. Our current culture has somehow disappointedly become inundated with women consumed with a climb to the top of the corporate ladder, doing anything it takes to get there.

In today's society, women clothed in dignity are being replaced with women who are good at manipulation, dishonesty, and stubborn attitudes of "it's my way or the highway!"

And even Christian women struggle when their children "stand out" in their group of child peers because of choices they, as parents have made to follow Christ. Modesty is downplayed, and an acceptance of socially acceptable sinful behavior is embraced to prevent any degree of ostracization for their kiddos or to keep them from looking like they are judgemental in their social groups.

And somehow, we've turned the changes that occur with aging for women into a curse….gray hair and wrinkles are abominable!!

I have a feeling that the woman in Proverbs didn't need to manipulate anything in her relationships or her business transactions to get the desired end accomplished. It goes with her stated character that her attitude every time something didn't go her way was - "Lord, not my will, but have your way!" And I have not a shadow of a doubt that hair dye and Botox injections would have been foreign to her, even if they would have been on the market back then. The gray strands in her hair were just the external display of the wisdom she projected when she opened her mouth.

I don't have to wonder if she was intimidated by the process of getting older. She wasn't...because every day, she wore strength and honor! Society pressures rolled right off of her like water off of a duck's back. She was too consumed seeing about those she loved and taking care of the homeless, and running an honorable business to be caught up in the throws of vanity!

I also have no doubt that she had no problems teaching her children courage in standing out, or maybe I should rephrase…she had no problems in teaching her children how to be outstanding!

A friend of mine recently posted this thought-provoking blurb, and I felt it was worth repeating. I have no idea where it came from, just know that I am not the author of it:

"This culture would rather obsess over looking young than embracing age so younger people could look up to them. As a result, we have a mentor-less society and discipleship poor church. People aren't asking for help, and people aren't qualified to do it.

Older people, be older. We don't need your midlife crisis or your plastic surgery or your age inappropriate lifestyle. We need your maturity. We need your acceptance of time and your willingness to lead.

In the Bible, God actually curses the people by letting the young people lead. It's not much different today. Young people rise up when old people shut down. So stand up, drop your extended adolescence and embrace your place in time."

With that being said, I challenge each of us as women - no matter where we are in our place in time - let us embrace it wholeheartedly as a leader in clothing ourselves in strength and honor.

Don't leave your cloak of dignity in your closet - only to dress up and wear at times that are convenient.

In this season of celebrating moms, if your Mom was a Godly woman - unafraid to be seen and draped with honor - make sure you tell her how much you appreciate that!! We need more women like her!! Be one!! Don't let it be said of any of us that sin or the things of this present world took that from us!

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