dig·ni·tythe state or quality of worthy of honor or respect
Each person has been created, designed and established with dignity. As David said in Psalm 139, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Each person ever created was knitted together wonderfully with honor and respect BY GOD ALONE!! Lately my heart has been overwhelmed with the thoughts of dignity. This one word has woven its way into my life for the past eight years, but the past five weeks it has paralyzed me and the past 24 hours it has broken my heart to the place where I am crying over my keyboard, desperately wanting everyone in my path to know their worth and honor.
Unfortunately my walk with dignity has been one of mistakes. I have not shown everyone in my path the honor and respect they deserve from being created as a masterpiece of my Abba.
I have judged.
I have overlooked.
I have shown little honor and respect for the person in my path.
I let my agenda, to-do list, small thoughts and schedule take over and ignored those that the Lord placed in my journey. I have allowed my flesh to take over the heart that the Lord has given me and ignored the fact that the person in front of me was a reflection of God's creation for me in that moment. Lately I have thought a lot about dignity based upon my life and work in Lesotho, but honestly what has overcome my heart and emotions is the lack dignity for those in my path, now that I am back in the States. I want so badly to take the real lessons that I learned in Lesotho and have them overflow into the life God has for me here.
One of the rules we have at BG is that no photos or videos of the children's faces can be shared online. We do this, because they are not our children. They are someone else's and we want to protect them while they are in our care, so that when they are united with those that the Lord has ordained to be their family, their family can introduce them to the world. We do not want to hide them, but care for them as the precious jewels they are. Just like a diamond miner, who does not boast about the stone he finds but when that stone is placed upon a girl's finger, she and her future husband get to boast about what the precious rock represents. If the miner boasted about the rock, when it was time for the couple to share their news, it wouldn't be as special because the world already saw it. There have been many moments when I have had to ask those volunteering or on mission trips to remove a photo from their social media site because it showed too much of the child's face. I dislike these conversations, but I am very passionate about them, because serving orphans is serving someone's baby. It is not a social justice campaign. It is not the latest trend to do, so that you can get a pat on the back. It is loving someone's son or daughter until the moment they are united and the rock that was once embedded in dark dust, sparkles as it shines God's redemption and adoption for all of us to see. Adoption isn't easy. It isn't always sparkling but it is pure and holy and a moment in which only those involved should be boasting about. If I a posted a photo of every child I worked with in Lesotho, what would that do other than weave into that child's life a deep strand of yarn that represents that they are just a product of a something I am doing, so that my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds can have many "hits" or "likes" and I feel good about myself. Each child I have touch is not a thing to boast about but a soul created by God to make Him known. Because the truth is when the trip is done and your life is back to it's cushiness, that child is still in the orphanage and that child's family is still waiting somewhere. That child's life is still encompassed in the dark soot and dirt of their abandonment. That is something I do not want to brag about but to constantly fight for that little soul that was fearfully and wonderfully made with dignity, not to be an image online but a world changer for God's Kingdom.
Secondly, one of my "tasks," though it was not written in my job description at BG was to give our children hair cuts, in other words, shave their heads. In 2013, I didn't see this as a big deal. We shaved the children's heads to help with cleanliness and ease of care. But then one day a photo was posted, by someone volunteering at BG of me, shaving a child's head and one of our adoptive parents sent me this reply "(Child's name) doesn't like this picture..it almost makes her cry. She didn't like hair cut time in Lesotho." I emailed this parent to not only apologize but also just know why. The thought of a child feeling turmoil over looking at a photo of something I saw as so routine, broke my heart. The mother explained how her daughter would go to preschool in Lesotho and see the other children with hair and she felt ugly. Now most of the Basotho culture does keep their hair short or bald, but as girls grow up, they grow their hair and put it in braids and twists. This BG child didn't think she was beautiful because her classmates had braids and she didn't have any hair. She felt that her beauty, her dignity, was in her hair. She felt like she was still a baby. To some this sounds sad, but you understand the cleanliness aspect and you feel the child should just get over it. I know this, because before I got this email from the mother, I would tell the child who's crying in the chair in front of me that they were okay and that if they sat still the hair cut would be easier. And when their haircut was done, I would pick up the next waiting child and cut. It was a normal thing to do. I saw their tears as a road block for my task, not the reflection of the child's feeling of me stealing their dignity. From the moment I received that email, every time a child sat in front of me for a haircut, I would pray in my heart, as I buzzed. I placed their name and their dignity on the threshold of my Abba's throne. Because no one deserve's to feel ugly or feel like their dignity is being taken away from them. This journey continues as I am home. Now it is not a clipper in my hand, but my eyes on the path. When I am at a store or a restaurant, in which someone tells me their name or their name is printed on a name tag, I use it. I don't just ask for what I want or think need, I use their name in hopes that in this small way, they know they have dignity. In hopes that in this small gesture they know they have worth. In hopes that they know someone else knows their name. Also when I am out and I see someone who lacks something that is "normal" to my culture, I pray that they can be shown dignity and worth beyond their difference.
Each and every person on this earth was created with dignity and I do not want to be a person whose actions, thoughts or words steal that dignity, because dignity is a amazing gift and one that should have it be trampled on. Dignity is looking at someone in the eyes rather than looking at their difference. You see everyone's eyes, no matter the color, shape or size are the same. If we stopped looking past each other or looking each other up and down, like girls in junior or senior high school, we can focus on the eyes. Someone's eyes are a reflection of their heart. Since being home I have discovered that I sometimes dislike texting and emails, because I cannot read someone's tone they are using. I have found myself texting a friend and asking "Okay. I do not want to miss something. Are you really okay?" We all want to be okay, but the fact is sometimes, life is not okay and when your life is not okay, I want to be there. I want to speak truth into you. I want to place your name on the threshold of the throne of God and let you see your worth, honor and respect. Every person in this world has dignity. We all need to let go of ourselves and look each other in the eye, to say "I see you. I am no different than you. You have worth!"
I am a work in progress, when it comes to dignity, but I pray each day I can be a beacon of hope in someone's life, so that they know their worth!