A Little Dignity

There’s so much weightiness in the news.

Shootings.

Brutality.

Tragedy.

Prejudice.

Fear.

Mental Illness.

Rage.

Sadness.

Cruelty.

Misunderstandings.

Retaliation.

Judgement.

Calls for Grace, love and action.

 

#Orlando

#Iraq

#Lousianna

And now #Dallas

 

What to do? How to respond?

I read the rants and prayers and calls to action and hashtags that rip at my heartstrings. I want to act. I want to respond. I want to do something that speaks Christ’s love.

And as I sit in bed thankful that my sweet children are safe and in their beds with full tummies, clean clothing and pretty much not a care in the world, I realize that this blessed life is not mine to take for granted.

When they wake, they’ll have that joyful spark of life that comes with youth and innocence. As they age, the innocence will slowly be replaced with a more sobering view of the world and the pain that comes with the package of a fallen world.

Oh how I long that the world would be a different place. That my children would not grow up with all the hatred that is so imbedded in our current society.

What can we do as parents raising children in a very cruel world?

  • We must choose to not respond with cruelty.

The most recent version of Cinderella has these wise words to impart upon its hearers: “Have courage and always be kind.” Cinderella had it rough but she chose to be brave and extend kindness despite the way she was treated. 

Ephesians 4:32 (NCV) “Be kind and loving to each other and forgive each other then just as God forgave you in Christ.”

I say this verse (at least the first part) to my children a minimum of once a day. The second part, however, has grabbed my attention lately.

Forgive. I can’t possibly begin to understand what those who were targeted in Orlando felt or feel. I can’t begin to understand the decades and decades of pain my black friends have experienced. Those precious people of Iraq who live in a war zone. I just can’t even begin to truly comprehend their pain. I am white and have privileges simply based on the shade of my skin. I have, however, found myself wronged. I have been profiled for my actions and have been slung through the mud for doing that which I believed to be honorable. I have received hate emails and facebook messages. Told to “go to hell”. All because I thought I was doing the right thing. When this happened I wondered if I should ever try to help anyone again. If this is what happens when you love others?  But the BIble says, “…forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.”

My sins are not your sins but they are sins all the same. Christ died for me, for you, for the snipers on the roofs last night in Dallas. I know. That’s hard. For Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton. For President Obama and former President Bush. For Osama Bin Laden and Mother Theresa.

We cannot allow ourselves to return evil for evil. We cannot teach our children to live a life of retaliation.

  • Love like Jesus.

Social media is showing us how far we have yet to go on our journey of holiness.Although the true origin of this quote is unclear the sentiment is good: “preach Christ always; if necessary use words”. I fear that we have turned this upside down and it reads more like: “preach Christ always and if necessary use actions”.

I read this post by Brandon Hatmaker a few months ago and it has been sitting with me for some time. I’d like to share it with you as it is the inspiration for the title of this post and has been rocking my world for quite some time. You can see the post in it’s entirety here

Quoting Beth Moore in her book “So Long Insecurity: You’ve Been a Bad Friend to Us” 

“We have dignity precisely because God Himself gave it to us, His prized creation. You and I, along with every other human being on the planet, possesses dignity because God Himself has it and He created us in His image… God didn’t just confer dignity to us. According to Psalm 8:5, He crowned us with it. We are wise to note, that all people have God-given dignity even if they don’t yet have eternal life through Jesus Christ.”

I love this. Thank you, Beth, for the reminder. Everyone has God-given dignity. Even that guy across the street. Or that person who practices a different religion or holds a different belief on a doctrinal issue. Or holds NO religious view. Or holds a different sexual orientation. Or holds a different political view.

God has created everyone in His image. We may be born in sin, but we are born dignified. Who are they to strip you of your dignity? Who are we to strip another of their dignity? Of all we do as disciples of Jesus, may we be known as those who offer dignity back to those who’ve been stripped of theirs. What would Jesus do? That’s exactly what He does.”

Dignity.

A quick google search returns the following definition– the qualitiy of being worthy of honor or respect

When we say all lives matter, are we bestowing upon others the titles of worthy and honorable and respected? As a recent article succinctly articulated, is it glossing over the true issue at hand?

When we pass others on the streets or the grocery store or in traffic, are we thinking:

“You are worthy.”

“You are honored.”

“You are respected.”

We all deserve dignity. You, my friend reading this, regardless of AND because of your culture and beliefs deserve dignity.

  • Talk about it and live it out.

My children are too young to understand all that has taken place in a mere few months. They don’t grasp the concept of hatred and evil. But even at ages one, three and five I can teach my children that kindness is a CHOICE not a response. As they age, the conversations and the actions will get more involved but kindness will always be the common denominator.

I can’t change the actions of a nation or world. But I can change my actions. I can teach my children to show love and kindness to every person they encounter. When they see me showing love and kindness, I am making a difference. I am changing my actions. I am prayerfully changing the spiritual trajectory of my children’s future.

I can make eye contact with the woman with the burqa covering on her head or the elderly gentleman from Japan. I can make conversation with the developmentally delayed gentleman bagging my groceries. I can make a point to smile and acknowledge the police officer a table over eating a meal between calls.

And I can help my children see that all lives matter not because it’s the hashtag of the day or the right thing to do or the admirable lesson to pass onto my brood but because I truly believe it and live it out in my actions.

Today we will bring brownies to the local police station. It’s a coincidence really that a local organization This Side UP! Family has challenged the community to thank our public servants. Dom has been adamant about bringing a sweet goody to our police officers. My children don’t have a clue what news broke out last night. My heart will be heavy. These officers will be on their guard, and the grief of their fallen partners will be oh so heavy.

It’s a small step. It won’t change what happened last night. It won’t change the world. But it just might change my kid’s world a little bit. If I can help shape the lens through which my children see others, and if they can learn to treat others with a little dignity maybe just maybe we’ll see a kinder world in the coming days. 

Patty Parker

My name is Patty Parker. I write about finding beauty in the every day.

2 thoughts on “A Little Dignity

  1. Like you, I feel so safe and blessed, and whatever happens in or around my life, in Christ I know that I am so safe and so abundantly blessed, because in Jesus we find hope, and at His throne of grace we find mercy and help in our time(s) of need. But, as you expressed so well, in the face of increasing violence, pain, fear, and hopelessness in the world around us, we are not untouched by what is happening to others. We do long to respond, to act, do something – anything – that expresses the love of Christ… and make a difference.

    Thank you for encouraging us who want to respond in a Christ-like way by sharing how you plan to respond and make a difference: “I can’t change the actions of a nation or world. But I can change my actions. I can teach my children to show love and kindness to every person they encounter. When they see me showing love and kindness, I am making a difference. I am changing my actions. I am prayerfully changing the spiritual trajectory of my children’s future.”

    And I believe you will also be changing, and increasingly so, the spiritual trajectory of all whose lives you touch when you treat them with dignity and show them love and kindness. From acting with the faith you have been given, may multitudes come to know the hope, love and forgiveness of Jesus, and may our world become a kinder place filled to the full with the lovingkindness of Jesus Christ.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! May we all see the world through the eyes of Christ and love like Jesus in every thing we do!

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