Job 30:15 - Terrors overwhelm me; my dignity is driven away as by the wind, my safety vanishes like a cloud.
Dignity: the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect; a composed or serious manner or style; a sense of pride in oneself; self-respect. (Google.com definitions)
As you sit on the table in your physician’s office clothed only in a paper gown, it feels as if you’re exposed. Vulnerable.
As you are directed to a small area in the pre-op area of a hospital, you’re handed a small cotton gown to change into. You place your garments in a bag after which you pull a draw string to close. Your feet dangle over the side of the bed awaiting your turn for surgery. You know in your mind that it’s trained surgeons who will be operating on you, yet you feel as if your dignity has been stripped away just as your clothing was.
You curl up into a ball like an unborn child within her mother’s womb. You should’ve been more careful. Why did you trust that man who you met for drinks. But here you are. All honor, respect, pride in oneself has been taken from you. And, there’s no going back from here.
You walk toward your local shopping mall and see a man lying up against an outside wall. He’s homeless, and lost in a world that only thinks of him as less of a person.
You walk into the room. It’s divided only by a curtain. You approach the bed and find your father lying on a bed; eyes glossed over; all hope gone. He only has a gown to wear and the only furniture in the room is a small cupboard to hold the only belonging he could have with him. When I looked into my father’s eyes, I saw such sadness and sense of shame. Is this how his life is going to be lived until he passes away? No honor. No dignity.
Dignity is something that people don’t really talk about, yet something that we’ve all experienced the loss of in our lives at one time. With some events, like the trip to the doctor or hospital, the feeling of lost dignity only lasts until you return home.
But for the woman who is raped, that loss of dignity can be lost for a lifetime. With the homeless man his loss of dignity cuts him to the bone just as the chill in the air does. At one time, he was somebody’s child; perhaps a brother; or, perhaps somebody’s husband or father. But, nobody seems to think of him in that way when they look at him. They only see a nobody.
And with someone like my father, who spent the last weeks of his life in a care home, he never had the chance to gain back what he lost.
With each degree of lost dignity, what you think about yourself has been marred and tarnished. Is there a way to gain back your self-respect, your dignity?
Thehopeline.com has some ideas on building a healthy self-respect for yourself in their article, "How to Respect Yourself More," such as don't speak to others badly about yourself and don't let anyone force you to do something they want and you don't.
In addition, let’s talk about the Bible verse above. This was written by a man named, Job, who had lost his family (except for his wife), wealth and health. Job felt that everything had been take away from him. Even his dignity had been driven away. Thankfully the story didn’t end there. Job withstood his time of extreme pain and God healed him and showered on him more blessings than he had before he was afflicted.
The same can be true of us. We may not gain our riches back, but we can regain our dignity and receive strength to make it through other tough times.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.