When one hears "Women's Night," it is common to picture a circle of giggly girls sitting on the floor painting nails, braiding hair, and dressing each other up. At our Women's Night last Monday, however, the ticket through the door was a makeup-free face.
Why? Because a woman's dignity is more than skin-deep.
Mission Leader Jaclyn Treviño, our speaker for the night, walked into the room of 20+ makeup-less ladies dressed in a shimmery gold dress and high-heeled shoes. She stuck out like a sore thumb.
"We all have a point of reference that we use to judge ourselves, our worth, and our dignity," Jaclyn began. "For some, that point of reference is our parents or friends. For even more women though, it’s celebrities and magazines."
The problem with this is that these points of reference change. Our interests, living spaces, financial situations, bodies, fashions and social circles all change, some when we least expect... and if our dignity and worth are derived from these fickle circumstances, so too will our dignity and worth change from day to day.
"The joy of the message of Christianity is that humans possess a dignity that can’t be taken away," Jaclyn said. "It’s based on a foundation that’s unshakeable. There is nothing you can do that will remove or replace your dignity. Nothing."
As she spoke, Jaclyn casually kicked off her heels and removed her nail polish.
While dignity isn’t something we gain or lose, she went on, it is something we can act beneath or forget about, resulting in acting as if we do not have dignity. When we sin, we can react in one of two ways: guilt or shame.
Jaclyn took off her head band and began to remove her makeup.
Guilt is a good thing, she explained. It doesn't feel good, but it reminds us that there's a remedy for the behavior that caused the unpleasant feeling. Through guilt, we can perceive that we have done wrong, seek and receive forgiveness. When we make things right, the guilt goes away.
Shame, on the other hand, never goes away; because rather than pointing at the action as a wrong, it points to the person. "Where guilt would say, 'I made a mistake,' shame would say, 'I am a mistake,'" Jaclyn said. "Where guilt would remind me to take care of the problem, shame comes in the form of lies and accusations."
"Close your eyes," she asked, "and think about these truths as I say them."
"I was not created to be used by others... My worth is not contingent on being successful... My worth is not based on how others view me... I cannot lose my dignity by sinning, even the most vile of sin. I am a beautiful daughter of God, created in his image and likeness... My dignity and worth is not is what I do, but in who I am, who I reflect, and who I was created to be."
When everyone opened their eyes, Jaclyn was wearing a t-shirt and shorts. She was just as beautiful as before... because dignity is beautiful.
Jaclyn closed with a letter from a friend to the women of SPO. "Think about the time you may take picking out your clothes, using beauty products, doing your hair. The details matter!" it read. "How long do you take each morning to get your spiritual beauty looking right?"
With this new perspective and resolution, we closed with a prayer, followed by the devouring of a table full of fancy chocolate; because our dignity is not derived from the calories we consume...