Friday, January 1, 2016

Sanctuary of Tranquility: Integrity...why bother?

Sanctuary of Tranquility: Integrity...why bother?: My parents were the first people in my life who taught me that making excuses was an indication of a lack of integrity. When I was in my f...

Integrity...why bother?

My parents were the first people in my life who taught me that making excuses was an indication of a lack of integrity.
When I was in my forties I worked for someone who would never allow anyone to make excuses whatsoever. He would say, "There is no excuse."
 Although his attitude may seem rather harsh, it made a huge impact on me; it taught me to never give up and to always not only complete what I started but to do the best work I could possibly do.

My parents set a great example for me by always taking the time to talk to me about anything and everything and by demanding that I be honest not only with them but with myself as well.

They took the time to not only help me to understand the importance of telling the truth but, they also showed me examples of the carnage that is possible as the result of a lie of any color. A little white lie or withholding the truth (waiting around with information until you, for whatever reasons, feel the time is right) can be every bit as damaging as a big fat juicy lie.

From the very beginning of the Bible, Genesis 42, and 138 times after that, the word truth is mentioned. This should speak volumes. It should tell us that in no uncertain terms we must go straight to the truth. God hates lies and deception,

Jesus quoted Isaiah,
  "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are  far from me " (Matthew 15:8)
The Psalmist says, "People all lie to their neighbors; lying lips spoken with deception (Psalm 12:2) We have seen how Joseph's brothers had deceived their father about the fate of Joseph (Genesis 37:31-35) However, today we see also that they knew in their hearts that they could not deceive God, " Surely we are being punished because of our brother." (42:21) 
Although He already knows your heart and words, God wants you to be honest with him, 
He likes candor, He wants you to tell him honestly what is in your heart today. 

John 8:32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free

I grew up with the bad habit of exaggerating or elaborating and until quite recently I never thought of it as lying. After I started the Courts of Heaven program I came to realize that what I thought of as fish tales were in fact lies. The Courts of Heaven taught me to ask God in prayer to show me the things about myself that He would like me to change.
He did so without any delay, and my exaggerating was on the top of the list. Now if and when I do it, I flush with guilt because I know He heard me. He helped me understand that exaggerating was actually a form of lying and that always telling the truth with love and compassion for the listener demonstrates that element of integrity that is so very important in building relationships with others. It establishes trust.

Dr. Bren'e Brown addresses trust in our relationship with friends. She defines trust as not a grand gesture, but instead, a collection of small choices we make every day. She also reminds us that when we choose to trust ANYONE we are choosing to be vulnerable, a quality that is hugely misunderstood in our culture. We tend to think it means weak, it does not.
We are all vulnerable any time we open our hearts and reveal those precious parts of our souls to those we come into contact with. Many of us have been used or have experienced lies, and unfaithfulness from our spouses or friends and have shut down, closed the gate, and put our hearts in seclusion. So as friends to these people, or one who has experienced this first hand, we must remember how important being honest is. When the devil tempts us by making us feel like lying is the best course of action, the path with the fewest consequences, He is not only turning us into liars, but he is causing us to damage associations with anyone we lie to.
With that in mind, it is my best guess, that telling the truth is paramount even if it brings a few uncomfortable moments. It also smooths the path to establishing trust.
However, it is interesting to note; in one of the 20 most popular TED Talks, Pamela Meyer, author of Lie-spotting, claimed that on any given day we are lied to from 10-200 times!

Simple little sizzlers like these...
  • The check is in the mail
  • There will be someone out to repair your broiler first thing in the morning. 
  • I'm fine
  • I didn't do it
  • I will pay you back
Often times these are empty words, where the heart does not accompany the lips. Words that fool and deceive, words that make us wish that with all of our hearts people would simply tell us the truth.

The best definition of trust I have heard in a long time came from life coach Charles Feldman. Feldman defines trust as choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person's actions. We have no idea what a person will do with the personal information we give them. Trust must be built, and it can quickly dissolve into Distrust if the things that are important are not kept safe with the person we confide them to. 

Matthew 7:6 (KJV) Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

When I was in high school, my mom gave me dimes instead of pennies for my penny loafers so I could always call her if I needed a help of any kind. She knew I would need them. Having known me all of my life, she knew her red headed daughter had an open heart which made her vulnerable to deception. I am so thankful for her and for those dimes, I used them on several occasions.
I am also very grateful that I grew up when I did, having parents who possessed integrity. Parents who cared enough to prepare me somewhat for life and it's battles. Sadly, many were not as fortunate as I. They were never taught it and have no desire to have it. It has become kind of a lost characteristic which desperately needs to make a comeback; especially if people have any desire to have good relationships.

Proverbs 12:17 A truthful witness saves lives, but one who breathes out lies is deceitful 

Dr. Brown defines integrity in 3 parts: 

1. Choosing courage over comfort.
2. Choosing what is right over what's fast, fun or easy
3. Practicing your values, not just professing them.


I work with people all week long who have never experienced that nurturing kind of love from parents or friends. No one has ever taught them to step up and admit when they have done something wrong or when they have made a mistake. They are either too proud or simply afraid to. Maybe the repercussions have been too great or maybe they have never experienced just how magnificent it feels to be honest, even if there are repercussions.

Galatians 4:16 Have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? 

It takes a really deep, special kind of commitment to love, discipline, and teach your children or anyone else to have moral character. It takes patience, persistence, forgiveness, kindness, and time. 
I spend many hours on my knees, pleading with the good Lord to open the eyes of my own children and I praise him when I see indications that they are developing into some pretty cool adults. I am excited about their futures, at some point they will have the opportunity to give their own testimonies. There have been some mighty scary moments along the way and there will more than likely be more to come.But hopefully, all of those hours I have spent praying for them will work for the good. 

Having integrity and being a good friend or a good employee is work. Admitting when you've made a mistake is tough stuff. Risking the loss of a friend because you are being a friend is tough as well, something many people will never understand or have the courage to do. Having enough integrity, to tell the truth, talk to people about what is on your mind instead of ignoring them or being mean to them and making things worse is also very tough stuff, but it can be done. Jesus will give any of us the grace to overcome anything we fear. All we have to do is ask.