It was my senior year in college that I decided to live a life of integrity. Not that I knew what that actually meant, or what it would look like in reality, but it sounded like a good thing to put on final reflection papers and end of term mission statements.
It’s funny how God calls you to something before He shows you what it will look like.
So there I was, at a corner table in Starbucks, crying over a thesis paper I wrote because I could sense the words I was tossing around (integrity, wholeness, peace) were looking really good and I wasn’t sure if I was actually seeing them in my life. (Yeah, I know – most people cry over homework for reasons other than being deeply convicted by their own writing.)
Prior to this little Starbucks meltdown (thank you baristas and fellow coffee shop goers for ignoring the weeping girl in the corner and letting the Spirit of God do his thing) I had sweepingly defined integrity as upright moral standing. Do the right thing honestly and consistently and, congratulations, you have integrity.
But then I started writing about it and the word got a wider and richer and vastly more life altering with every sentence.
Because, yes. Being a good person consistently and with honesty is part of it. But there was more to it. Very much more.
So I typed furiously and I researched endlessly. I word searched and parsed Greek sentences. I sat at that corner table day after day, sleep deprived, gulping triple shot espresso drinks with extra caramel, and slowly I began to understand that choosing to value integrity was going to take my life. My whole life.
Because integrity means more than being an upstanding citizen with good morals – it means chasing after goodness even when no one is looking. It is more than avoiding lies – it’s being brutally honest and telling the same truth wherever you go – not adjusting it depending on circumstances, audience, or for the sake of personal comfort. It goes further than doing the right thing, it requires that you are the same person on the inside as you claim to be on the outside. Integrity means that the entirety of your being is in alignment – that what you believe and proclaim when you’re on your knees in prayer or in the pew on Sunday morning is going to be played out in how you speak, in how you work, in how you love, in how you eat, sleep, and entertain yourself. Integrity demands every single part of your life.
The dictionary defines it as the state of being whole and undivided.
And to think of all the tear stained papers and overpriced coffee drinks I could have been saved from had I just googled it.
I turned those papers in years ago. I earned A’s and credits to graduate and life moved on. But I’m still challenged and convicted (to the point of teary breakdowns in coffee shop corners) to make sure my daily living in the external world matches what I claim to believe in my inner world. To eradicate all traces of fragments and division from my life and embrace the whole version of myself.
For me that can look rolling out the yoga mat and honing my strength with downward dogs and tree poses. It means letting my fingers make music on piano keys or curling up with an well-crafted novel because the art of it brings life to my soul. It means looking up words I don’t know in the dictionary and studying heady theological books that make my mind active. It is crying when I’m sad and bearing my heart to a confidant when I’m hurt and laughing really, really loud when I see something funny. It means there isn’t a single part of my life that I let go untouched, unused, unearthed.
Jesus told his followers that the greatest commandment was to love Him with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength – or in other words to love Him with the whole version of themselves. If this is how we are to love him, shouldn’t it be the foundation of how we live our entire lives? Whole and undivided?
So much of spiritual living can feel ethereal and intangible. But the beautiful thing about discovering this deeper meaning of integrity is the practical way it can be applied to real, normal, daily life. Because chasing after wholeness looks like frying eggs and going on walks and reading good books and breathing deeply and folding a load of laundry and laughing at funny shows and diligently going to work and showing up to your real life day after day after day. Chasing after wholeness is done – and can only be done – in the reality of your day to day life.
So are you up for it? Do you want to join me on this journey toward integrity? This embracing of the whole version of ourselves in our right-now lives? I’ve compiled a list of wholeness practices for you – a resource you can download and keep with you on your phone or in your journal or on the fridge. Brief ways to embrace the whole version of you – heart, soul, mind, and strength – in five minute chunks through out your day. Just enter your name and email below and you’ll have immediate access to this simple guide to a wholeness. We all have five minutes breaks scattered through our routine, why not use them to embrace the whole version of yourself?