Clothed in Dignity


She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. -Proverbs 31:25

On NPR recently, I heard a story about an abortion demonstration in Texas where abortion supporters wore orange and protestors wore blue. I had deeper thoughts about the content of the story, but one of the peripheral things that popped into my mind was, “Wouldn’t it be awful to unknowingly show up in the color that represented the opposite of my viewpoint?” I felt like I would immediately have to go home and change because I wouldn’t want to be identified as standing for something that I didn’t.

In the same way, sports fans of all kinds show their loyalties through the wearing of their team’s colors, symbols and jerseys. A Michigan State fan would never go to a game in blue and yellow (rival University of Michigan’s colors). Every good fan is concerned about taking a stance for who and what they represent.

In our world, our externals are conveying messages to the world. Whether we think about it much or not, how we present ourselves somehow identifies our beliefs and values about ourselves and ultimately reflects on God. Our presentation, including clothing and body language, enforce our self-ascribed identities. Some of those messages might be:

  • I am…”frazzled mom, please just leave me alone unless you’re going to give me a hand.”
  • I am…”fashion conscience and so much cooler than you.”
  • I am…”trying to look younger than I am because getting older scares me.”
  • I am…”a fitness lover, aren’t you impressed?”
  • I am…”rich and I want you all to know it.”
  • I am…”willing to show my goods in hopes for some attention.”
  • I am…”convinced I’m not beautiful, so I’m not going to try.”

I know I spend way too much time on my presentation to the world, and can definitely be sending messages where I’m trying to get the glory instead of God (see how fit, together, culturally savvy, etc I am?).  Like the Proverbs 31:25 verse about the woman clothed in dignity points to, the fear of God reigning in the heart is the beauty of the soul; it lasts for ever. What if the message I cared most about sending was I am….”a dignified woman of God, and my externals are trumped by the radiance of the love of God coming from within me?” There are women sending that message and hopefully we all them in our lives. Some of them are fashion plates and others stuck in the 1990’s. But they have something in common, that just like Jesus, their spirit and reverence for God illuminates through and that’s what attracts and heals other people and brings God glory.

In her book, 7, Jen Hatmaker points out that Jesus’ appearance had very little to do with what drew people to him, just as was prophesied.

He grew before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. (Isaiah 53:2-3)

She says, “There was nothing physically attractive about Jesus. He wasn’t rich or notorious, well-dressed or handsome. At first glimpse Jesus was forgettable, neither standing out for beauty or charisma. Maybe this is why the widow and and marginalized and sick and outcast flocked to him. He was approachable in every way.”

We must recognize the messages we’re currently sending and if they aren’t ones that glorify God, be more intentional. In Unseduced and Unshaken, Rosalie de Rosset states, “To be a Christian woman of dignity, a woman must know who she is before God; she must have dealt thoughtfully with her personhood and made decisions about who she will be. Dignity is a strong, deliberate way of life, the totality of a person’s choices and worldview.” So our message will be sent best when our identity is rooted in Christ and not in our externals. That frees us both from having to keep up with the Jones’ and from rejecting all things external (clothes, makeup, jewelry, having a hair style that suits us) in the name of Christianity.