Saturday, June 25, 2011

Strength and Dignity



Chrysanthemums
by  Daniel Ridgeway Knight, Pennsylvania, 1829-1934



Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she shall rejoice in time to come.
~Proverbs 31 verse  25


Dignity


There are several meanings of the word dignity,  which is sometimes interchangeable with honor. Definitions can be read at the end of the post.  Today I am going to talk about the practical  application of this word, particularly in regard to the conversation of women. Bible classes, tea parties, friends, the telephone, blogs, message boards and instant messaging make it easier to "tell-all" or give detailed descriptions of personal things, but is it expedient to do so?  I believe there can be a danger in it. I believe women can have good conversations and give wise counsel without losing their dignity.

Christian women should seek personal dignity.
Some people have the idea that it is not right to have personal honor or personal dignity, but the Bible teaches that dignity and honor are to be sought:

"A gracious woman retaineth honour. [dignity]" Proverbs 11:16

There is a common belief that things involving manners or  personal dignity are shallow, superficial, lacking in depth, or snobbish, but according to Proverbs 31 dignity is part of being a woman of worth. The Bible speaks of honor as something to seek.

Julia Among the Roses
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight


The Trend of Transparency

In an era that encourages transparency and openness, women have lost their dignity and sacrificed their mystery.  The tell-all television shows have helped make it culturally acceptable to reveal every detail of every weakness; every mental anguish in life.  While modernists call this "honesty', it is not necessarily dishonest to keep some things private. Cautious speech is important when preserving dignity.

Someone recently sent me an email forward about the airport policy of making airline passengers walk through X-ray machines.  In view of the popularity of transparency--- revealing every thought, every habit, every thing we do, I was amused at this reminder of literal transparency.


There is a problem if we want to expose everything to everyone, in the hope that we might win some to our beliefs. Women lose their dignity when they do this.  Philippians 4:8  says to think about things that are honorable. It may not be honorable to discuss sinful things among a certain type of audience. Women need to be wise, and distinguish between what things should be said or written for the public, and what things are only fit for privacy.

One of the dangers of the new transparency is that those who seek our harm will use it against us.  Unbelievers do not understand repentance. They focus only  the sin. They may report things you have confessed and give you a reputation you may find difficult to live down. Converted women who have come up out of that watery grave of baptism should not live as though their sins are still clinging to them.  They should walk in "newness of life."  They should think like new creatures. They should avoid discussing personal things among acquaintances and online. They  need  to find ways to come across as being friendly and personable without giving up their privacy or losing their dignity.


Mending
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

Dignity Should Fit the Description of a Godly Woman.
The phrase: "Strength and dignity are her clothing" is a figure of speech referring to the dignified bearing and personality of a worthy woman. One of the meanings of dignity is "honor." At the end of this post is an explanation of the way the Bible uses figures of speech to explain the meaning of something. Strength and dignity are referred to as clothing, so that the learner can understand the meaning of dignity as part of a woman's being. They should be dignified in the way they dress, the way they live and the way they speak.

The Village Seamstress
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

Dignified Speech.
Obviously dignified speech eliminates things like swearing and popular slang, especially when it is suggestive. It eliminates graphic descriptions of personal bodily functions or things that are not part of pleasant, edifying speech.  James Herriot wrote in his book "Dog Stories" that he was happily reminded of the days gone by when people's sensibilities were too delicate to describe troubles with their livestock or pets in graphic detail.  "How different it is now," he wrote, "when the young farmer's wives often make me gulp with their recital of explicit anatomical details."  Public blogs and other forms of online communication can be a temptation to reveal personal things that should be private, or limited to a certain group of trusted friends.


Peasant Girls in a Flower Garden
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

Dignity is Like a Covering.
Dignity is something Proverbs 31 calls "clothing." Those of us who are "in Christ" know that we are also "clothed in Christ." It means to be protected or covered. Ist Peter 5:5 refers to being clothed in humility.  Anyone that understands insurance coverage can understand the concept of being covered by something that is not tangible but is a protection. A worthy woman is clothed in dignity, a figure of speech that means held in honor.

Many young women seek the example of a dignified older woman.   Practice dignity in your youth, and you will become the woman whose personality is clothed in dignity. Be especially careful what you say in groups of women or discuss on public blogs. Private blogs will allow more leniency but even then, women need to be careful to make sure that their speech is pure.

The Flower Boat
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

Practice a High Code of Living.
Part of dignity, or honor, is to rise above the  sinful things of the past and not dwell on them. If you are a mother, your children need to see dignity (honorable things) in you. To put the past away is not to be dishonest with them, because it is a way of protecting them. You have to be careful what you confess to your children, your friends, and yes, even church members, because of the way it can be used that is not edifying.

The story is told of a man who went to prison for selling drugs. While doing time, he was converted by a prison ministry. When he was released and attended worship, he let everyone know that he had been in prison and how he had been converted. He told his story so often that people began to refer to him as "the man who went to prison for selling drugs." His sinful but colorful past loomed larger in people's minds than his current change of life. We all need to be careful what we say, whether it be online or off so that our dignity is preserved and so that others will be thinking on things that are lovely. Women can do a lot to prevent a stereotype being spread about them, by not talking of the shame of the past, except in very personal situations.


Maria and Madeleine on the Terrace
by Daniel Ridgway Knight

Loss of Privacy
There may be young children or weaker members who can get the wrong ideas about confessions involving past sinful living.Their minds may dwell more on the dark side of the story than the bright side. Discernment and good sense should be used when deciding whether or not to relate past sins to certain ones. Some people have spread things around that have caused problems in people's lives, and that is a good reason  to keep some things private.


Previous Generations Were More Dignified.
Many of us have parents living who did not see the need to broadcast every feeling, every angst, every bitter disappointment, every plan, or every move they made. Children were not told how much money their fathers earned, how much the family car cost,  how much their father had in retirement funds, how much their mother weighed or how old adults were.  Adults kept a lot of things private and did not have to divulge personal things in order to remain interesting to their friends.  When impertinent questions were asked, it was common to hear the phrase, "That is none of your business."   Today, people think you are hiding something or being dishonest unless you divulge every personal detail of your life, but women need to cultivate privacy and develop personal dignity.

The Fear of Formality.
Grace Livingston Hill wrote in her book, "Re-Creations"


"You know formalities are good things sometimes. They are like fences to keep intruders out and hedges to keep in the sacred and beautiful things of life."

Do not be afraid to keep up your fences and keep personal things to yourself. The practice trains others what to speak and what to refrain from saying or asking.

Evening Hours
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight


Dignified Living Requires Cautious Speech.
Some mothers make the mistake of exposing their children to the knowledge of the follies of their own youth, not realizing that it may create in the children a desire to repeat the behavior.  Mothers are responsible to guide and guard their children. They need to pay special attention to building the character of their children. Without good judgement, children talk and spread personal things to others, causing great harm in a woman's personal dignity.

While women can be very particular about which magazines they allow in their homes that expose children to sordid things, they need to be just as careful not to expose their children to their own past sins. There is a danger that the children will lose respect for their God-given authorities. Women need to attain and retain dignity and honor so that their children will not lose respect for them. The apostle Paul wrote:

... this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-14





The past can be valuable to remind us the pain of taking the wrong way, but we must be discerning in what we say to friends, to church members and to the public whether it be through casual conversations, the telephone or the internet.  There are some people who lie in wait to find some flaw in Christian women in order to spread malicious gossip about them, gossip which might cause great damage to them later on. There are those who look down on people who talk about unsavory, or sinful things. A gracious woman should seek honor and dignity, rather than causing others to think of sordid things.

Revealing Personal Things Can Harm Your Influence. 
Previous generations were more dignified in the things they talked about. They would have been horrified at the current transparency trend, knowing that it would cause loss of personal dignity and harm their future influence on others for good. They knew that if they expected to be an authority they had to live the part and retain personal dignity.


Gathering Flowers
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

Parents Need to Exercise Caution.
Parents do need to use their knowledge to protect their children from the follies of feminism. In doing so, however, it is a very dangerous thing to describe every sinful thing that they did in their youth. It is not good to broadcast the details of their sordid past life to immature minds. Later, in a moment of resentment or rebellion, a son or daughter may think, "Mother did it, so why can't I?"  Or, a child may lose respect for their mother if they know that she once did the things that she is now telling her children not to do. Children also spread personal secrets to their friends, which can cause great havoc in a woman's life. Since a child's mind and reasoning is not fully formed,  parents have to be very wise in the way they portray themselves. They may lose their authority if they show the children a weak side of themselves, and they also lose their dignity.


Seated Girl With Flowers
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight


Women Need to Be Careful What They Say in the Presence of Men.
While we expect men to avoid using strong language in front of women, women too must be careful in their speech around men, or as some would say "in mixed company."  They should not freely talk about their hair or hair products,  make-up, their personal hygiene preferences, the details of women's physical problems such as their period or any surgeries, the size of their clothing and underwear, marital relations, old boyfriends, potty training methods, and much more. Often in restaurants women indulge in laughing loudly at things that are not even amusing, or talking about things in public that are embarassing. Women need to attain dignity, and to do so, they must learn to speak about things that are higher and nobler. The quiet and gentle spirit (1st Peter 3:4) in women is something God values greatly and it adds to their dignity.


The Duet
by George Knowles

Learn How to Make Good Conversation.
It may take a little study and research to find out how to participate in a conversation without allowing it to degenerate into disgusting talk,  and it may take some practiced skill to guide a conversation that has gone astray. This is a refined attribute that is essential in attaining dignity or honor. Acquiring the ability to speak with dignity is like practicing on a fine instrument to participate in a public symphony. Once the music is learned, the player hardly knows he is performing it. Gracious ladies will have trials and errors but eventually will be able to discern what to say and what not to say, and when to divert a conversation back to the right path, one of dignified talk.


Reduce Communication.
Constant communication is not good for women. (As some men would say, "They need to be making sandwiches" instead. ) Too much chatter, whether online or verbal, can reduce your alertness to your family and sap your strength. 

Young Women Need to Be Around Good Influences and Pure Speech.
 Young women need to remove themselves from places that are a bad influence. "Evil communications corrupt good manners." Ist Corinthians 15:33. If you participate in such communications, you will not attain personal dignity.  It is more likely that these people will pull you down to their level, than you will pull them up to yours.  Online chatter is wasteful and destructive if it is not pure speech.

Young women who participate constantly in online message boards (including Facebook)  that are full of off-color humor, vile messages, smart remarks, gossip and accusations need to close their accounts in those places and never go back. Scoffers and scorners are not going to get better just because someone nice is there.

A rotten apple spoils the whole barrel. It does not matter how many good apples you put in the barrel, it does not make the rotten apple any better. Sometimes, women make the mistake of staying in the company of fools, in order to make the foolish wise, but they are usually outnumbered, and at a disadvantage. Do not risk the loss of dignity by belonging to  message boards or spending time with scoffers that have never changed. There are things to do in the home that are more important that will add to your personal dignity as a woman.


Polishing the Urn
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

Older women need to be the primary example of dignity, but if there are none around, younger women need to study and prepare themselves to be the example to their daughters. Applying good conversation principles in knitting and crafting groups, ceramics classes, ladies Bible studies,  restaurants, tours, visits and online can help women attain honor. Often these groups encourage the revealing of personal family information, and some of the women in these groups are not good advertisements for the Christian life. With knowledge and skill, wise women can guide the conversation into things that are lovely, good and noble.







The Honeymoon Breakfast
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

Definitions of Dignity

Websters 1828 Dictionary: True honor; nobleness or elevation of mind, consisting in a high sense of propriety, truth and justice, with an abhorrence of mean and sinful actions; opposed to meanness. In this sense, we speak of the dignity of mind, and dignity of sentiments. This dignity is based on moral rectitude; all vice is incompatible with true dignity of mind. The man who deliberately injures another, whether male or female, has no true dignity of soul.

Wikopedia: 1.The state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect- a man of dignity and unbending principle- the dignity of labor; 3.A sense of pride in oneself; self-respect-" it was beneath his dignity to shout."



Figures of Speech in the Bible
Today, we use many figures of speech in our language to describe an experience or to give a greater meaning to something. When a person says that a scripture "jumped out" at him, he does not mean that the verse literally came off the page. He is using a figure of speech. I have just written about the worthy woman in Proverbs 31 being "clothed" in honor. This is also a fugure of speech which is used to describe the character quality of dignity. The worthy woman was  wearing a garment of dignity;  a spiritual attribute described as clothing. When you are clothed in something, you represent it, you are covered in it, and you have acquired that personality. The worthy woman has dignity so much in her it is as if she is wearing it.

The Bible is more easily understood when you see the many figures of speech that is used to give a greater meaning to a word or phrase. For example, when a Pharisee told Jesus to flee because Herod was going to kill him, Jesus said, "Go, and tell that fox....."   he did not mean that Herod was a fox. He was applying the attributes of a fox to Herod's personality. Perhaps he meant that the king was sly or sneaky. Some would call this personification of the fox and others might apply it as symbolism, Herod's personality being symbolic of a fox.

Below are a few (there are many more) significant figures of speech in the Bible:

Allegory
Ambiguity
Condescension
Hyperbole
Metaphor
Paradox
Personification
Symbolism

73 comments:

Anonymous said...

More praying, less talking! I remember my grandmother who lived on a farm before there was so much communication available. She prayed when she was outside and it gave her peace. I think a lot of people are looking for reassurance, companionship and escape from boredom when they spend so much time chattering on facebook, playing games online, or joking back and forth on message boards. All these things can be had through prayer.

Anonymous said...

This is fantastic advice! I am one of those women who found God late in life, and I made my share of mistakes and then some prior to that. It is important for women like me to stop dwelling on past mistakes not only for the sake of our listeners, but also for our own well-being. It is impossible to move ahead in a better direction if one is always discussing past mistakes.

I would like to know if you could offer any advice about avoiding gossip in particular. I have more than one neighbor who think nothing of walking up to me and starting to talk about another neighbor. I want to get along with everyone, but don't want to gossip! It can be hard to get away from such people without being downright rude but is there any other way?

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post. You have given us some wise and Biblical advise. Please keep up the important work you do Lady Lydia. You are an inspiration to the younger women. I will certainly re-read this post and heed its message.

JulyGulf

Don and Shelly said...

One of your best posts yet!... lots of wisdoms to take in... definately need to re-read!

LadyLydia said...

Shelly,

I'd like to ask readers to put this article into 3 or four sentences and show me how. I didnt want it to be so long! It was supposed to say:
Don't tell personal things to people.
Don't laugh loudly in restaurants.
Keep your past forgiven sins in the past except for select and trusted people.

Anonymous said...

You always make me want to do better and be better.
Thank you!

Anonymous said...

It is also important not to put others down if you find them talking about things that are unsavory or personal and private. Just nod and say "I know what you are talking about," or "I understand" and gently guide the conversation into something more intelligent.

LadyLydia said...

Regarding gossip.

It took me a long time to really see that such a thing existed, both before and after the use of the internet.

You say as the old folks used to say, "Everyone has their way. Some of my friends are for it, and some of my friends are against it, and so, I'll just stick with my friends."

It takes some thinking to guide the conversation into a different direction, and one good way is to be armed with questions.

I've had to do that when a person comes around and wants to know if we are retired and how much money we have in retirement funds, and what our investments are, and where we are going on our next trip. I ask them where they are going and what plans they have for their yard or property improvment and if they plan to stay where they are living now.

It is good to know of some local events so that you can ask them if they plan to attend.

Also study and read about things you can talk about. New breeds of roses are always interesting to neighbors, or new kinds of roofing, or even a new book you have read. Maybe you could find something like a book or household item from a yard sale and then as soon as the gossip begins say, "Oh, that reminds me! I have something for you!" Then bring out the item and discuss it, instead.

Or, you could express an urgent matter that you need to attend to in your house, or that you must go and get ready to go somewhere.

Telling a neighbor that you are cvaught in the middle and cannot comment, will help, too.

Anonymous said...

Excellent ideas for stopping gossip without making enemies! Thank you!

Amy said...

What a wonderful post! The pressure to make one's life transparent to others feels almost overwhelming at times, so these are all good reminders. It is possible to let friends and church family into one's life without compromising dignity, but etiquette and social habits seems to be lost arts in modern education in many circles. I think it's a shame because I have had to learn many things as an adult that people of earlier generations grew up practicing.

Amy
http://makingajoyfulhome.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

This post was so timely and needed. I thought by having it longer it gave it clarity. I remember how it used to be and am ashamed to be among relatives who at times speak so openly. You cannot walk away some times. I certainly do not add to the conversation and move away from it as quickly as I can. When young I had a Christian mentor. She probed me on this and that and I told her a few things trying to guard what I said. I found out she used this information to 'teach' her children and so passed on everything I had said. Using her own memories of her own upbringing she slanted what I said to be something more. This not only hurt and disturbed me but my whole family. I will never be so unwise again..but the damage was already done. I thought being a long time Christian and an older woman I was safer and as I said, tried to think and guard what I was saying in the first place. I was very glad I did not say more but what I said at all was turned against our family. You have given us a very good guideline on the many aspects of dignity and it is a very very important lesson. Thank you Lady Lydia. Sarah

Anonymous said...

This is great advice, but what is to be done if someone has spread something about you from your past, even though you have repented and now live a new life?

Anonymous said...

Sobering thoughts...excellent post. Sometimes it is necessary to step back and examine our speech, as this post has helped me to do. There is a great deal of unseen pressure to reveal all to all. I think we may feel this way by what we are exposed to via television and the internet. The more intimate the details are, the more inclined we may think this is normal, acceptable, behavior and we try to mimick the trend. This may seem silly, but what has helped me some is watching movies or reading books set in a time period when dignity and honor were highly valued. I remember one scene in Cranford when Miss Deborah was shocked and offended as Captain Brown made mention of his strict income.

LadyLydia said...

Yes. Some of the scripts from these old books reveal something of the dignity of previous generations. When Aimee was trying to tell Molly that Roger liked her, she said, "I wish you wouldn't speak about it anymore, Aimee."

When Elinor Lavish was trying to get Lucy's cousin Charlotte to reveal a romantic adventure she once had in Shropshire, Charlotte motioned with her hand to be quiet, for Lucy, her young charge, was listening.

When men are present, women should be careful not to go on and on about the latest handbag or shoes or things that don't interest men. In years past, women were taught how to speak of things of interest to men and others, and not to go on and on about personal things.

Kimberline said...

Thank you for such a well written article, Lydia. It was full of good advice and common sense.

In regard to gossiping. When someone approaches me now to gossip about someone, I will let them get themselves all geared up and ready to go with telling it all and then interrupt and say "You know, I'm sorry to interupt you here, but God Bless "so and so's" heart. She is struggling the way we all struggle. None of us are perfect, are we? Do you mind if I don't hear anything negative about her because I've been trying so very hard to see the positive things in people and not to dwell on the less beautiful aspects of them. Let's talk about xyz instead....How have YOU been doing lately? I'm hoping to hear a good report!" I find that the only thing people enjoy more than gossiping about someone else is to talk about themselves. :P

Sometimes the point of their visit or call is ONLY to gossip. In that case if I have redirected twice and they go back to it a third time, I will end the call. It isn't so easy to end a visit, but if I am in their neck of the woods, I get up and go. If they are in my home, I take them to see some project or begin to discuss my garden or some recipe that I am wanting to try. I'm getting a LOT of practice at this because it seems most women use any visiting time to gossip about someone else. It makes me especially mindful to not tell private business. If a lady is in my home telling me someone else's private business, I am assured that she will tell mine at her next stop.

Thanks again for the effort you put into your articles. I always pick up such wisdom when I come here.

Anonymous said...

It takes real maturity and graciousness to cut off gossip without causing a worse stir. It does not work to say abruptly "that's gossip." Some people use that phrase just to cut you off no matter WHAT you are discussing. If someone does that. I just remain silent and let them introduce the next bit of conversation. If someone is rude enough to cut off someone talking, I think it is best not to talk, for they want to control.

If it really is gossip, it is better to gently turn the subject away by distracting or by asking a question that is somehow related, such as, "That reminds me...." and then turn it in another direction.

"I am trying not to talk about her so much. It depresses me to talk about the faults of others. I think God will take care of it if we just let it go."

I've used that phrase a few times, but in doing so, I'm always careful not to make the person think I am upset with them or condemning them.

LadyLydia said...

To answer the question about gossip that has already circulated about a person who has changed their life:

Keep to yourself awhile and let it die down. Be careful who you talk to. Build your life constructively and mind your own business, finding new things to do that keep your mind off it.

Shop away from your area so you can be left in peace and not have to be seen by those who are talking about you.

Give yourself a break from those who delight in making you their subject of the month.

When someone brings up a sensitive subject say "that is neither here, nor there," or "I've moved on," or I've put that behind me and I hope you will, too."

"It is not any business of yours." is always effective.

"Please quit talking about it. I do not talk about your past, do I? Why then, do you delight in talking about mine?"

"You probably need to get a different interest and quit focusing on me."

Anonymous said...

Another place even women go to far in is asking personal questions of couples. Why would anyone have to know if you are hoping to having more children? Sounds innocent and I hear people ask it often but that is between the couple and not our business. Think of all the personal questions people ask each other. Personal means personal. Private. Since reading this article today I have been out with a group of people. My ears sharpened anew after reading it. I was astonished at what I heard all around me! Not only gossip about other people I did not know but people's names and phone numbers being openly given. The number given was of a person who was not even there to know someone else had given it, let alone so loud we all could hear! People think! As has been mentioned before, we represent to the world what Christianity is and are we representing it appropriately? Would someone see Christ in our demeanor? This article has woken me up also to things I still need to work on too. Sarah

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia, excellent and so timely. I couldn't agree with you more.

Sadly, I was told years ago to confess all my past sins to my children. I have regretted it ever since.

It's like you mentioned - it opens the door to rebellious thinking and wanting to repeat the sins of the father.

Far Above Rubies said...

Wonderful, Lady Lydia. Absolutely wonderful!!!

You are such an encouragement to me. I couldn't agree more with this article. One of your best!!

Jasmine

Anonymous said...

Sarah,

The loudness is what called my attention to the lack of dignity in women. It is excusable to call your children to come to you or to yell out to warn someone of danger, or such, but some of the talking that goes on is extremely loud, as women try to prove their point or dominate a conversation with their unsavory talk. Older women ought to lead the way in dignified speech but at a recent quilting group I heard nothing domestic being discussed...only disgust. You would think quilters, with their love of fabric and sewing, would have more refinement, but the older women seem so crass and outrageous.

LadyLydia said...

Children just cannot handle some adult confessions, and can lose respect. They may also, as they grow into adults, feel a superiority towards their mothers, when they have heard them talk about their sad past. If you've raised your children safely away from the things which caused you yourself to fail in life, they think that because they did not do those things, they are better than you are. It is not good to reveal everything to children. Parents of olden times never talked about the past, and even those who had been in wars did not share details of it with the family. Today, many of those elderly people are very cautious and wise about giving information. I know some in the church who will not answer too many questions. They will say they are not going to answer any more questions. They dont like to repeat personal information and dislike having the focus be upon them.

Sarah, yes, I've heard people give out their social security number while there is a line of people behind them, and it robs them of privacy. People give their phone number to a cashieer who is processing their discount card at the grocery store.

And, the fact that people can talk about others in great detail when they are not around, shows that others have given them way too much information. We should not be open with personal things unless to a trusted person.

Anonymous said...

So very much rich food for thought here....

Lynn M

Anonymous said...

I heard an expression a long time ago, and it seems to fit this propensity we have lately to "tell-all" - the lady referred to it as gossiping about yourself. I have used it when people ask me really nosy questions. I just say, "well, I am not going to gossip about myself."

Anonymous said...

Christians Ladies do need to be careful what kind of impression they are giving a doubting and cynical world.

There are some religious ladies whom you could never find fault with: never a slip showing or an immodest dress, and never a loud-mouth remark or giggling screech in public. They can relax but they do so among their own kind and are careful not to disturb others. You can never hear what they are discussing and they are very careful not to be a bad influence. In shopping areas and in places of business, they get their business taken care of and dont try to court the attention of others. They do not act like they want to tell their "story" or relate their past terrible life. They have a quiet and gentle spirit. Christian ladies need to quit trying to look like the world or act like the world and come apart from them and be separate, as the Bible teaches. We are supposed to be different.

LadyLydia said...

Christian women need to think about the impression they are giving of God and His Word. Your life is a message.

Some people will not listen to a gospel sermon or read the Bible, so Christian conduct is a sermon to them. They will notice a woman of worth and her discretion and discernment when she speeks. It will be an example to them, a standard.

There are some girls who do not care about blaspheming or discrediting the word of God by the things they say and reveal. They seem to think that God will take care of their reputation so they do not need to do anything on their own part. Yet the Bible constantly warns about the things we speak, saying that the things done in the dark, or secret, should not be spoken about.

I asked one young lady why she spoke so openly about personal things and she said it didn't matter to her. One day, however, as she becomes more private, she will see the difference and blush with embarrassment at the things she used to say.

This is one reason to train your daughters and correct them whenever you hear them say something inappropriate. Do explain afterwards that you are correcting them so they won't make the same mistakes in public and risk discrediting the Christian life.

This is another thing that I did not address: correcting your children or other people in the presence of others. It should be done privately and not with an audience.

LadyLydia said...

I heard someone say in answer to a personal question: That is personal. It is my business, not yours.

Anonymous said...

I agree with a previous commenter; this is one of your best posts, and you have many.

I will have to come back and study this post more closely. There is so much in there that I need to learn and absorb.

The parts about the internet chatter and boundaries really resonated with me.

Thank you and God Bless You.

~ Ann

Anonymous said...

I found your blog via "Far Above Rubies," and I am glad that I did.

This article about strength and dignity was excellent! There is much information to be absorbed here, but I learned so much wisdom from it.

Sometimes, as Christian women, it is difficult for us to reduce the chatter, but we must, unless we want to look foolish. I think, as of late, I have been doing too much chatting, and I pray that the Lord will guide me back to becoming more sensible and feminine.

I will definitely be coming back to your blog again.

LadyLydia said...

I believe God requires Christian women to have dignity. If you are on a chat board, even facebook, I would suggest you quit. On blogs, at least people can see a tutorial or read something of value. Facebook and other message systems encourage game playing an idle talk. You can go see when your friend last commented and know if she was at home or figure out what she was doing at the time. Sometimes people tell every single thing they are doing. Blogs seem more serious minded and Christian ladies need to avoid too much instant communication except for close relatives and friends.

LadyLydia said...

"the hidden man of the heart"--that Bible verse tells of a quiet side of the woman, and praises her for not being too talkative or giving too much information. The saying, "Loose lips sink ships" is appropriate here! Too much online information, and even chatting at your front door tells people things that they can use against you. Just listen to yourself as someone delivers a package to your door. It is amazing the kind of information people give about themselves such as "I'll open it when my husband gets home," or "We are in the process of painting our house," "My daughter is coming to visit and this came just in time," and more..This gives some people an outline of your plans...not that they would act on it, but ladies, please be careful!

LadyLydia said...

Having dignity means making it harder for people to find fault or break down the protectiveness you have towards your family. If you reveal too much, in the name of being open and honest, it makes it easy for others with bad intentions to prey on your family. That goes for online activity too. You need to make it harder for trolls to harvest your information. If you use facebook, make it private. While some people think it is a badge of honor to be perscuted, they may in fact be putting children at risk of being used in vile ways and may even cause their husbands a loss of income, if trolls find them and use any personal information against them. You should make it more difficult for people to cross your borders and they should not enter your life unless they are well behaved.

Anonymous said...

Another tip: do not discuss the following in mixed company

your medications
your past life if it was one of sin
the problems you have with your relatives
how sick you feel
how broke you are
how long your husband has been unemployed
anything that may be perceived as personal failure

Anonymous said...

Lydia,

Your cautionary words regarding Facebook are timely. Though this medium has its place as a useful communication tool for business and parish, I believe that it can all too often degenerate into a toxic mire when adopted for personal use.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, did not develop it for ultruistic purposes - quite the opposite!

This article http://rencesvals.blogspot.com/2011/06/facebook-and-verbicide.html lends weight to and builds upon your thoughts regarding facebook and echoes many of my own concerns, as do you - hence my lack of interest in jumping upon the FB bandwagon. Can a bad tree bear good fruit? I think not.

Keep speaking the truth and God bless your wonderful internet ministry.

Anonymous said...

I have recently been watching an acquaintance who is expecting. She is the quietest woman I have ever met about the pregnancy! She has a serenely happy smile when I meet her, and answers any questions politely and shortly, but she is so unlike others I have met who tell you every little detail of the discomfort of pregnancy. Because she isn't volunteering so many details ( in other words, she isn't whining about anything), one is hesitant to press her too much for more information. I won't ask her the round of questions young mothers usually get, because I have learned a lot from her regarding what has to be publicly known and what doesn't! Just by her example.

Anonymous said...

This is a very insightful post. Thank you for taking the time to write it. I'd like to print it for future reference, if that is agreeable to you.

On another note, the artwork you inserted in this post is lovely. I especially enjoyed the Evening Hours, because the DRK captured the light on the water so beautifully. I also enjoyed examining The Flower Boat more carefully. I hadn't noticed the young woman's wooden shoes or the patches on her apron before. So lovely!

Anonymous said...

After I had one child, someone asked me, "Are you done?" I didnt known what they were speaking of, since I had never heard such a question. Later I found she meant, "Are you finished having children or will there be more?"

Anonymous said...

I know I'm a little late in entering this discussion but I have to say this post, along with the comments, was fantastic!

One thing a friend taught me to say when I didn't want to answer a question that was asked of me was:

Why do you ask?

And then quickly change the subject. Just asking them that makes them back-pedal a bit and throws them enough that you can change the subject.

Regarding gossip, a technique an older lady taught was to compliment the person they are gossiping about. When they say something gossipy or rude try and say something complimentary or slightly defending of the person and then try and change the subject. It isn't always easy and some people just don't catch the hint but some will. This technique can work well with family gossips too.

You have to be very careful the info you reveal to extended family sometimes too.

Anonymous said...

An effective answer to those who are digging and trying to find information about what you are doing or personal information about how you feel about some opinion,--if you do not want to divulge it, is to say,

"We are fine."

If someone says, "Do you ever see Mrs. So-and-so" (whom you might be trying to avoid because of her gossipy or judgemental ways), answer politely,

"She is doing fine, too."

I do not know how we allowed society to get so personal and demanding, regarding our business! Its atrocious, the way I am accosted in a grocery store and peppered with questions as if I were being called to court. "Why do you do that?" or "Why do you live here?" or "Where are you going next?" I think if we were to volunteer information, it might be okay, but to have it extracted from you is rude. On the other hand I think people volunteer too much. Ask them "how are you" and they tell you every detail of every thing, and all they need to say is that they are fine.

Anonymous said...

'why do you ask' is a good response.

I'm a little leery of finding out, though. Sometimes they will say that they ask because they heard a rumor, and then launch into the most hurtful stuff.

There has to be a way to politely and firmly put people in their place, which will not involve further delving into personal information.

We have such a busy body in our family that my husband and I go on trips without telling her. She never gives up trying to find out where our destination was.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lady Lydia !

Some of the subjects you said not to discussed surprised me.FOr example hair care. It shows how I have not been taught what to say. Please continue with suggestions of what not to say and what to say . I personally need the help.

Jenny at A Mother's Heritage said...

This is absolutely beautiful and powerful as well! May my blog reflect this spirit.

Anonymous said...

'why do you ask' is a good response.

I'm a little leery of finding out, though. Sometimes they will say that they ask because they heard a rumor, and then launch into the most hurtful stuff.


Usually when you say Why do you ask? it kind of throws them off and you can change the subject before they have a chance to actually explain why they're asking. (o:

Anonymous said...

I'd like to learn to make myself clothes like the ones in these pictures....these women are beautiful!

LadyLydia said...

There are patterns available to make similar garments. I can do a post on it sometime, using Simplicity, Butterick, Vogue and patterns from this year.

The conversation diversion tactics you are all posting sound really good. Diverting attention from yourself to them is really a good one.

Mrs. Q said...

Lady Lydia~

Coming from churches and groups of "Christians" that seem to put so much importance on the who you were BEFORE you were a Christian, you have really enlightened me with this post. I think I will have to read and re-read it. It has made me realize I have a big, gaping hole in understanding what is proper in interactions with others.

I guess I am a person who has thought that being open and honest is "nice". I must have a lot to learn.

So many things have been coming to my attention after I have read this post, like, how people have the audacity to make comments to families with several children, like, "Don't you know what causes that?" There are many others, as I'm sure you can imagine. But people definitely do not have respect for people's privacy anymore, and I think it may be largely to TV in general (making entertainment out of "watching" other people all the time).

I wish you could write a book about manners and the proper way to conduct oneself, as I have quite a lot of little girls to teach and want to teach them properly.

~Mrs. Q

Anonymous said...

I have a question. When you are out dining with another couple and the men begin to talk together and the woman starts talking to you about shopping or such how do you handle it. You said such talk should be left to when you are alone with ladies. I find this happening often. The men and the women separate at least part of the time only talking to each other. The subjects the men are talking about are not things I can share or understand like hunting or computer technical subjects. The other lady keeps bringing up only lady subjects. What is the way to handle such situations when you cannot suggest going to another room to talk to her. Sarah

LadyLydia said...

I am sure there are ettiquette books that have the answer to that, but this is how it was generally done in the past:

Men and women together in a home during dinner usually stayed on the same subject, as long as it was not too personal or inappropriate. If the table was small and there were only a few people there, a woman might briefly speak to another woman about a subject that was not of interest to the men, and vice versa, but out of courtesy, everyone usually tried to get back to a subject of mutual interest, occasionally speaking to others about something else. However when they finished eating, the women usually congregated together in the kitchen talking about the recipes, interesting things done in home schooling or anything to do with future plans or whatever they all had in common. The men went to the living room and talked about things of interest. If it was a minister's family the men usually talked quite a bit on doctrinal issues and religous controversies or maybe just about their travels or caught up on what one another had been doing the past week. If the women were all in the same church, they also might discuss, away from the men, some religous issues concerning women. However, if they were all together in the same room, and two women were talking quietly about something, it was permissible as long as they also allowed the men go to on with whatever they were talking about and didnt expect them to stop and listen to the conversation. While the women might be discussing or history or something to do with home improvement--depending on their mutual interests, the men could be talking about other things, and sharing humorous stories or discussing the latest discovery or invention. Several conversations in a room are not unusual, as long as you stay aware of what is going on and sense when one group is getting too loud. You could probably look up such rules of conversation ettiquette. As long as the subjects are not sickenning or make you cringe or are of a sensitive nature or too personal, that might embarrass someone in the room, it seems okay to chat with one or two people while others are talking about something else...just as long as it does not appear to be rude and as long as no one objects. Since everyone is different, there is always the possiblitiy that the mix of people at a particular event will not like having two conversations going on at the same time. However it is common these days to have many conversations ocurring, in groups, such as those who stay after church and talk with various people.

LadyLydia said...

Mrs. Q.,

It is Biblical to put the past away and not speak of it again. Christians are not to carry wounds around and they may appear to be less than victorious if they repeat their sad stories over and over. We are supposed to be thinking of the future and the good that we can now do, since our sin is behind us.

Those who hate God do not see it this way. They only focus on the past darkness, not on the present. So it is best to be discerning and not reveal some things to people who have no maturity or who will use it wrongly.

If a lady wants to have a good influence, it is not a good idea to broadcast the details of the days before her conversion.

This was a trend that churches caught on to during a time when modern therapy advocated confessing every feeling. Many churches formed small groups for a kind of religous therapy where everyone told all their troubles. Our parents and grandparents didnt do things like that. They had an inner strength and enough fortitude to know what to tell and what not to tell. I have no problem with the practice of having a good friend or telling a problem to a trusted person, but I do not think we should share everything in groups or on message boards. Bloggers need to be wary of how these stories can cause harm, and be selective about what they post of a personal nature, especially involving sin. Even if they admit they no longer do such things, someone without scruples may take the stories and place them elsewhere on the web. One day when someone does a search for one of your family, these stories turn up, and could discredit you in some way. Some people find it hard to get employment if there is anything on the web about their past sins.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Q.

The way I look at it, God has forgotton those things, and so should the person who has repented of them.

Mrs. Q said...

Thank you, Lady Lydia, and Anonymous. I do understand the wisdom in keeping those things private, and it is quite freeing to realize those things have no need of being talked about anymore (for they have indeed passed away). I was never one to broadcast past doings, but I know several who think that it is a necessary part of a Christian testimony; to have a bad past and tell the world about it and how Christ changed you.

Thank you so much for sharing how things used to be done, for I'm sure many of us have never heard!

LadyLydia said...

I personally think telling how Christ has worked in your life and the changes that have taken place are good testimonies. I just think you have to be careful of the audience and not cast your pearls before swine. Jesus told his apostles to move on quickly if the message was not received. A woman has to be very wise about when her personal testimony might be valuable. We are taught in the New Testament to teach the gospel but it does not say we have to give a personal testimony, and I can understand that because each person's experience in life will be different. The gospel on the other hand, which saves souls, is the same, over and over, coming from the Bible.

The apostle Paul said he was the chiefest among sinners, and that he participating in rounding up Christians to be taken to the law. However I dont think there was much detail beyond that. He said he had to forget it and press forward.

LadyLydia said...

Confession has its place, but what I am saying is that women need to have some dignity and not create a persona or a stereotype of themselves that is not true. If you sins are forgiven and you are walking in newness of life, show the new life example, and dont bring up the sordid things of the past. That's for the sake of influence and tesitmony, too.

And the other point I was hoping to make ladies aware of is that if you open up all that past sinfulness, there are those who will take it and run with it and do great harm to others with it.

Thirdly, women need to give a good reputation to their husbands and children. If they are telling the neighbors or the internet all about the past sins of their sons and daughters, they can ruin their credibility as dignified mothers and wives.

Anonymous said...

I think the same thing goes for what people say online about their terrible parents. It doesnt give the parents much chance to grow if their grown children constantly complain about them online and expose the worst of their family to the public. There is not one person who has not had some trouble at home, but does it have to be broadcast? It harms a persons personal dignity and sometimes it takes a long time for the family members to overcome the rumors spread about them.

Anonymous said...

I think the same thing about mothers sharing things about their children on their blogs and Facebook. This stuff stays around forever and I think it can be an invasion of your child's privacy. I'm just so thankful there weren't blogs when I was a kid. I would hate to have all my "cute" antic posted all over the Internet for everyone to see.

Anonymous said...

If your husband has a good job and a superior decides to do a web search on him, if his name comes up on a personal family blog and it reveals personal things that are a shame, there can be a problem at work. No man likes to have his faults brought up to him by his peers at work.

Weddings and births are wonderful but there is too much theft of photographs and these can be spread all over the web and used for less than savory purposes.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for answering my question Lady Lydia. Your blog through the years has made me aware of so many issues I needed to clear up. This post was so insightful in many areas and the comments from you and others are helpful. I already was raised doing much of what was said but some things were new to me. Sarah

LadyLydia said...

To sew the clothes of the women in the paintings:

A gathered or pleated from the waist skirt, long, at least below calf.

Peasant blouse or poet's shirt.

Vest.

Hand Knit Cardigan


Long jacket

You can get patterns for vests, long sleeved blouses, skirts and jackets when they go on sale for 99c or $1.99 at JoAnns.

Sometimes a pattern does not look too appealing, but if there is a 99c sale, buy a pattern for the "parts." You might not like a sleeve, but like the bodice of a dress or blouse. Or, you might like a sleeve. You can combine these parts with a little adjustment and use them in garments of your own design. If there is a dress you don't care for, but it has a bias ruffle on the sleeve or hem, you might get it for the instructions and pattern of that ruffle. 99c is a small price to pay for parts. You can circle the parts on the envelop when you get it home, to remind you, and make a note on the instruction sheet. There are sometimes dress patterns that include purses and other accessories you can use.

LadyLydia said...

In speaking of the past, you also have to be careful what you say around people who condemn you for following the way of Titus 2 and becoming a homemaker. If you formerly worked in a career, people like to call you a hypocrite for your stand on being at home.

If you know better now, it is not hypocritical to turn away from a former way of life.

Some people will see you are being a homemaker and then say, "Oh, but you went to college and you worked outside the home, didnt you?" and want to call you a hypocrite for now deciding to be a homemaker.

You need to tell them you know better, and dont want to follow your old way of life.

People are very condemning when you teach your daughters the way of Biblical womanhood, if you did not live it that way in your youth. But, it is not hypocritical to live a different way now. You just have to tell the critic that you learned your lesson and will never do that again, or that you "know better than that, now."

MarkyMark said...

Women Need to Be Careful What They Say in the Presence of Men.While we expect men to avoid using strong language in front of women, women too must be careful in their speech around men, or as some would say "in mixed company." They should not freely talk about their hair or hair products, make-up, their personal hygiene preferences, the details of women's physical problems such as their period or any surgeries, the size of their clothing and underwear, marital relations, old boyfriends, potty training methods, and much more. Often in restaurants women indulge in laughing loudly at things that are not even amusing, or talking about things in public that are embarassing. Women need to attain dignity, and to do so, they must learn to speak about things that are higher and nobler. The quiet and gentle spirit (1st Peter 3:4) in women is something God values greatly and it adds to their dignity.

AMEN! It's because I've heard too many women, shall we say, speak too FREELY about certain things that turned me off to them. Because I heard too many women say too many unseemly (not to mention unkind things about men) that killed my desire for marriage or even a relationship with a woman. Ladies, the men you encounter DO listen to what you say and how you say it; this, in turn, influences their opinion of women in general.

Eve said...

This post is rich with insight. I also appreciate the lovely artwork you've included, the scriptures, and helpful comments other people have offered. This is a strengthening post for me and really encouraging to find ways to improve in this area. Thank you!

Emmarinda said...

I really appreciated that my parents didn't talk coarsely or speak of private, sensitive matters to us. I also think we should take care to dress modestly in our homes around our children, even if they were small. That is an important part of maintaining our dignity. I thought about this one day when I was in my thirties and my children were little. It occurred to me that perhaps it wasn't the most godly or edifying thing for them, from their vantage point, to be looking up at a Mommy wearing short shorts. I changed my ways after that, and I am so glad that I did. I tried to act my age (that is, grown up and not competing with teenagers) and was taunted by some who told me I looked and acted too fuddy duddy. Ha! My children are grown now, and for all my faults, they hold a bit of reverence for me, I do believe. The fruits of obedience are so great, I wish I had obeyed Him more, but surely hope to in the future!

MarkyMark said...

Come to think of it, if I were forced to pick ONE word that encapsulates the definition of 'lady', dignity would be it. True ladies have dignity, whereas average women do not.

Miss Linda said...

This is a truly wonderful article. I will be printing it out and adding it to my notebook. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on these important topics!

LadyLydia said...

Mark,

The unreserved and undified talk exemplief by women starts outside the home in groups, schools and jobs. Ladies who have quit work and decided to be homemakers usually tell how glad they were to get away from the talk that goes on in the workplace. The feminist belief is that at home there will be no intelligent conversation, but you'll find more valuable posts among the homemakers blogs than any of the chatter that goes on among many women at work. If you work outside the home, you have to be around it and even if you dont want to participate in it, you are subjected to the mindlessness of it. I think it causes a complete drain on a woman's brain, unlike the home, where there is a day by day growth of the families members and so many changes going on.

Restraint is something that has to be practiced, and curbing the urge to tell-all is part of it. The idle talk is not entirely innocent, as many parents have been the subject of ridicule among their children's friends, and this cannot bring blessings upon the young people. That's a bad way to start out their future life. The tongue, no man can tame, says James. It has to be bridled, controlled, and put on the right course. This is one good reason to have intense training from the mother at home. When a mother is watching and listening to every word and attitude of the children at home, they can have the opportunity of correcting their speech and guiding them into wholesome talk.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the short time I worked I heard too much unsettling talk. The childhood song that starts 'Be careful little ears what you hear, be careful little ears what you hear ....cause the Father up above is looking down with love, be careful little ears what you hear". Also be careful little eyes what you see and so on... This song comes to mind. What you see, hear etc is with you forever and I do not want to get it in my mind in the first place. In my own home I can stand guard. I am grateful God has me back in the home full time for years now. Sarah

Neo-Victorianist said...

Lydia,

A very good article, sad to think how modernism has perverted such concepts as "honesty" to destroy dignity and morality.

LadyLydia said...

Neo Victorianist: the same way they have perverted courtesy and good manners to mean snobbery, shallowness, elitism, and many other things.

Anonymous: Giving more information than is necessary in order to appear friendly is really quite dangerous. There are those who seek to find some small thing in order to build a case against you, to incriminate you. Even the most seemingly innocent and trivial thing can in some way be used to hurt you. For example, a woman I know once answered a simple question, "Do you like this house better than the last one you lived in?" She replied that there were actually some things she liked better in the former house. This reply was exaggerated and spread around by someone, saying that the woman was not happy in her new house and that she didnt like the town they lived in. The rumor did a lot of harm to the family reputation at work and in the area in which they lived. TO a certain extent you can be natural and honest but you also have to discern the intentions and heart of the person asking the question. Sometimes people are up to no good.

Mrs. V. said...

Lady Lydia, I enjoyed this post so much. The quote about formalities by Grace Livingston Hill really struck a chord with me and I have not been able to get it out of my head since I first read this a couple of days ago. I liked it so much that I placed it on my blog. What she said is so true and there is so much wisdom in it.

Anonymous said...

I really really needed to hear this.

Anonymous said...

I fear that I may have read this too late. It goes against everything our open society says to do. We are told to "let down our guard," and everything else, and to tell our past sins hoping to convert others. I hope that I have not read this too late. Sage advice.

nanasknoll said...

I loved this post. It is so true. My family (a a child) exercised privacy. You forget these things today. I wanted to copy and paste this so I could re-read it again. It would not do this. Is there a way to get a copy.
Also QUESTION: is there a good book on teaching yourself these principles in our speech.
I am a talker, and the Lord has been teaching me on keeping quieter. But how to divert a conversation going the wrong direction I do not know how to do.
So want these qualities in my speech, to be an example to my grand-kids.

LadyLydia said...

Look back at this post in a few hours, as I will certainly attempt to post a link that you can click that will put you on a printable page of the post!

I have read a lot of books on character qualities, but this particular one is not really emphasised much. I suppose in Victorian times it was not as necessary to emphasize privacy, as people really guarded their privacy more.

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