On Dignity

Dignity - ShelliBourque

I’ve heard it said that books do not change us. It’s paragraphs and sentences that have the greatest impact. Golden nuggets of wisdom and truth, small enough to  be remembered, pondered, and digested into our lives. I came across just that sort of sentence two months ago and I am still marveling at the truth and grace in the words.

Lisa Leonard shared an exchange with her husband in which she lamented that she will always change diapers. Their oldest son was born with a disability that will likely require that he be diapered his entire life. If you’ve had even one child to diaper for two to three years, you can appreciate how daunting it must be to  face seemingly endless years of diapering. Her husband posed the thought that diapering their son may be one of the most important things she does all day. Thinking of all the responsibilities she carried, Lisa couldn’t imagine how this could be so. Her husband explained:

Think of heaven. David’s body will be whole. He won’t have a disability. And imagine him saying, “Thank you, Mom. You gave me dignity when I couldn’t care for myself.”

Dignity. It is a word seldom used and yet it is full of beauty and grace.

When God created Adam and Eve, He bestowed upon them His very nature. Countless animals were created before them, many with beautiful form, powerful limbs and regal stature. But none compared to mankind, formed by the hand of God to bear His image. As the pinnacle of His creation, mankind was the most dignified of all creatures possessing beauty, intellect, creativity, love, compassion, morality.

When Adam and Eve sinned they saw that they were naked and they were ashamed. They attempted to hide their shame by covering themselves with fig leaves. God sacrificed animals to provide them with skins that would restore their dignity. Even though marred by sin, the dignity of mankind is important to God. We reflect the image of God when we serve in ways that bring dignity to one another.

  • Caring for the physical needs of a mentally or physically impaired child
  • Bathing and diapering an elderly parent
  • Providing a home and a family, even if temporarily, to a foster child
  • Treating an elderly person as if they were eighty instead of eight
  • Recognizing a student’s learning disability and not embarrassing them in front of other students
  • Showing compassion and individual attention to a patient in a hospital bed
  • Paying the bill of someone about to have their electricity turned off

As Lisa’s husband pointed out, it is not the seemingly grand accomplishments that are the most important. Sometimes the most important act of service we can perform in a day is the one that seems most mundane, yet is the one that allows us to reflect the image of God to others and extend dignity to one of His beloved.

For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me  in;  I was naked and you clothed  Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; I was in prison and you visited  Me.’ [Matthew 25:3 HCSB]

About Shelli Bourque

An ordinary girl living by the grace of life in Christ. Adoring wife and mom. Lover of quiet places and uncluttered spaces. Beauty seeker and image maker.