While talking through character study with my eldest grandson this morning, we discussed the difference between dishonesty and integrity. At seven years old, he seemed to have a handle on dishonesty with no problem. Stealing, lying, telling half-truths, etc. are dishonest behaviors and we shouldn’t indulge in them. Integrity took a bit more explanation. Not committing any of the aforementioned offenses is obviously part of living with integrity, but it goes further than that. We talked about the need to be true to yourself and others, choosing to walk away rather than participate in activities that you know are wrong, and doing your best. He seemed to “get it.” And now his grandma is thinking… and thinking…
What does living with integrity mean in my life? What does it look like? This is what I decided living with integrity means to me:
- Being true to myself, the Lord, and my priorities. If I can’t get to everything on my list, I need to focus on the most important, and trust Him with the rest.
- Trying to be wise. If my health, time, or finances won’t stretch that far, admit it. Walk away. Move on.
- Recognizing what each day allows. Some nights I can put on a full roast chicken/mashed potatoes/biscuits/salad dinner. Some nights we have box mac-n-cheese and bottled fruit. Other nights we may just grab take-out. Trying to create a masterpiece for each meal is just not reasonable. We are either too busy, too stretched, or too much in need of “down time.” This goes for getting dressed everyday including doing my hair and a full-face of make-up, having a spotlessly clean house, perfectly done laundry, flawlessly weeded garden, or even an articulately written post. I need to do be content with what I can actually do at the time.
- Allowing others the same. I can’t expect perfection of those around me. If I am letting go of that expectation for myself, I have to afford them the same courtesy. Some days are just not the best. If the children are having an off day, or are not feeling tip-top, let things go a bit. Do a crossword for spelling. Don’t ask for perfection in their math assignment. Let the unmade bed go a bit longer (they may need to crawl back into it at some point). If my husband had a crazy day at work, I need to lighten up on the “honey-do’s” and let him read the sports page, etc.
- Honesty matters. I can only do what I can do. I believe what I believe. I am not obligated to negotiate any of that to make someone else happy.
- False modesty is akin to lying. If you are good at something, be good at it! I can cook a mean pot of spaghetti, and my bread is yummy! I love assembling curriculum and helping others teach their children, and they come to my home for that, so it must be worth their time. On the other hand, I am hopeless with a needle or playing sports. Those are things I joy in as I watch my children participate. My daughter, her husband, and oldest boy all knit and/or crochet. My other children are gifted artists, athletes, and designers. I do what I do. They are good at so many other things! And we all love to play with words!
- Gratitude is vital. I have no integrity if I refuse to see the amazing blessings and tender mercies that shower down each day! I have a good man for a husband, loving and contributing children with great priorities, and the cutest grandchildren ever! (They really are!) I live a comfortable home, in a stunning part of the country, in a great nation, and have friends and faith to get me through the challenges of life. Denying or letting go of any of that is a betrayal of all I know and love.
I can’t live each day with full excellence or perfection. There is too much about me and my life that is human or challenging. But “til I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.” (Job 27:5)