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Strength, Honor, and Dignity

We are taking another quick glimpse at what we do in the Waller family to build our family's culture. Every night each of the kids go through a liturgy of sorts we call “Signs”. These are reminders of who they are and who’s they are. The title “Signs” comes from the C.S. Lewis book The Silver Chair, where the heroes are sent on a quest to find the lost prince with Aslan giving them signs to follow. Our hope is to give our children signs to follow that stick with them in the trying times and the good times. As our kids understand who they are and who’s they are, we hope they can begin to operate in such a way that they take risk to the right things.

This next sign, we pulled right from the movie Gladiator. In the opening scene the Roman army is on the battle lines with a barbarian tribe and as soldiers part to go to their position they repeat to each other “Strength and Honor”. Now whether this was said in the Roman army or not, it strikes me as an excellent reminder of the preferred posture before one goes into the fray of battle. That when it is hard that they would dig down for more strength and that when the easy dishonorable decision came up that they would choose that which was greater.

While I will not be sending my children into combat anytime soon, I do recognize that their battle is not with flesh and blood but with spiritual forces. That said, I pray that they would find strength when it’s difficult and that they would do the thing that has more esteem though it may often be harder.

With our girls we take a different approach, going back to Proverbs 31, verse 25, where it says “Strength and dignity are her clothing”. Still I want to remind them to be strong in the face of anything that is thrown at them but “dignity” takes a different turn. This is a daily reminder that she has something to value and that it should be protected. Of course this lends itself to a discussion on purity and saving herself until marriage but it really goes to the core of it. That she would understand that it’s not just her body that she must protect but her heart and soul.

Last year, I took Emma on her 10 year adventure. It was a trip of her choosing with just dad and intended to be a little extreme. It did not take Emma long to choose New York City for all the reasons you could imagine. The trip was wonderful and full of dozens of first time experiences. One of those experiences was Time’s Square. While she enjoyed the lights and people, one experience brought up the opportunity for a great conversation. While there were dozens of Disney and Marvel characters available for pictures, if you were willing to tip them, there were a few women in costumes that were mostly painted on. While I tried to keep Emma from seeing these ladies, no amount of distraction and redirections was going to keep her from noticing. I confronted the problem head on and asked Emma what she thought about it. To the ten year old she merely thought it was silly and was a bit embarrassed for her. I asked her, “Why do you think people want to take pictures with the people dressed up as TV characters?” We came to the conclusion that it was because it was unique and that nowhere else could you take your picture with a 6 foot tall Dora The Explorer character. I then asked why she thought the people in the costumes dressed up. We came to the conclusion that it was their livelihood. Through a series of other questions we came to the conclusion that those ladies that only painted their bodies did this to get more tips but at the expense of sharing something private and thus infringing on their dignity. It became clear that we all have a level of dignity and it's our choice how we use that. We can exploit it to our advantage but we lose something that is very hard to get back. We let down our walls and become undignified with the right people to be vulnerable and build needed relationships with those close to us.

By this sign I hope she sees that The Bible is clear that her dignity is something that is to be held close to her heart and not to be wasted on a passersby or exploited for personal gain.

It has been a long road since we implemented these signs and we have had our share of eye rolls at the process but it has given us a framework to deal with what life throws at them. We know this is just one approach, so tell us what you do.

What are your daily sayings and what life lessons have you had from them?


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