According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “Dignity” means:
- a way of appearing or behaving that suggests seriousness and self-control
- the quality of being worthy of honor or respect
For anyone who has been wronged by someone else, or is in the midst of a conflict with another person, choosing DIGNITY can be a hard pill to swallow. However, it is always the right thing to choose.
For someone going through a divorce, choosing DIGNITY may look like:
- Not trashing your former spouse on social media, or to your kids, etc. – even if what you would have shared is true and you think the world deserves to know how he really is or what he’s done
- Responding to your former spouse in kindness & with respect
- Keeping lines of communication open
- Including him in the celebrations and challenges that come up in the lives of your children
- Admitting your mistakes & sins and asking for forgiveness
- PRAYING for your former spouse
It is not always easy to choose DIGNITY. I will admit there were, and still are, times when my reactions were led by my emotions. Or I spoke words that did not display kindness or the respect that I would have liked to receive. I have realized that the two most important acts of DIGNITY which need to be done consistent and are the hardest to do are: FORGIVING and PRAYING.
If you are going through a divorce you might be wondering: Why you should choose to act in a DIGNIFIED way? Why you should FORGIVE? And why you should PRAY for your former spouse?
Choosing DIGNITY goes back to the definition listed above. If you respect yourself and your desire to be treated with honor and respect, then you must choose to control your responses, words and actions. This choice pleases God, positively affects your children and family & friends, and models grace to your former spouse. However, the person that receives the greatest benefit from doing this is YOU. The same benefit comes when you FORGIVE. You’ve heard it before…withholding forgiveness only hurts yourself.
For me choosing DIGNITY comes down to respecting myself by showing kindness to others (even the person that has hurt me the most), and desiring to leave a legacy that is worthy of God’s approval. Similarly to what the author, Amanda Carroll, shared in her blog post “The Single Mom and The Most Important Thing” , I don’t want others to say “She was a divorced woman who fought many battles, and held her own.” I would much prefer they notice the things I chose to practice like: love, kindness, grace and forgiveness, mixed in with strength, patience and dignity. Oh, and she held true to all of that while going through a divorce.
Before we depart today, I don’t want to leave you hanging on the second part of being DIGNIFIED through your divorce: PRAYER. It is hard to pray for your former spouse regardless of the reasons that have brought you to this stage of your life, but it is important, especially if you have kids and will be interacting with him for the rest of your life. I go through stages of commitment to pray for my former spouse. At other times, it’s all too easy to forget to pray for him. Here are two ideas that helped me during the times I have prayed for him regularly:
- Follow a prayer guide. I enjoyed praying this one: https://www.reviveourhearts.com/media/filer_public/ef/d8/efd82888-06b0-4398-899c-d4bc8851ee02/31daysprayinghusband.pdf. I changed them slightly to pray for him and his walk with God, parenting, and communication with me without focusing on the fact that it’s written for a husband
- Add a reminder into your busy life. It could be a reminder that pops up on your phone, or something tangible that you see or touch throughout your day. I carried a small stone in my pocket and every time I felt it in my pocket it reminded me to pray for him.
PRAYING, even though it’s hard, will ultimately bring you peace and joy. And remember, God instructs us to pray.
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons (& daughters) of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:44-45).
Why should you choose DIGNITY? For yourself. For your own peace and joy. To respect yourself. To leave a legacy. Because you are a woman who is DIGNIFIED-that’s Who You Are (check out the lyrics to the song by Unspoken.)