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When Integrity Dies A Slow Death…And how you can come back from it

Integrity was never something I thought I had to have. Integrity sounded like a good thing, but I didn’t think it had to apply to me. It never occurred to me that I lack integrity.  Heck, I hardly knew what the word meant.  But without integrity, it’s hard to get around in the world.  Integrity means that my outsides match my insides.  That I am “integrated” or aligned, mind and soul.  It also has the same root word as ‘integer’ which means ‘whole number.’  So, integrity is just me keeping my word, telling the truth, and showing up when I say I will. But there was a time I lacked integrity.  And I didn’t even know it!

When I was 10 years old, I had a play date planned with my friend Robin. I had to babysit for my neighbor that morning, but I promised and promised I’d come over later that day. She kept calling and calling, asking for when I’d be coming, but my neighbor hadn’t come back yet, and I was still watching her kids.

Finally, my neighbor came home and I was all set to go to Robin’s house, but then I got the opportunity to go out with my older sister. What a treat! I hardly ever got to go out with her and I really, really wanted to go with her instead. So, I called Robin and I told her I wasn’t coming. I was surprised at her reaction. She was angry! I mean, wasn’t she happy for me to be able to see my sister, who was much older and was hardly ever home? Why was she so mad at me?

Ten year old girls are hardly ever forgiving, and I’m sad to say that event ended our friendship. I was sad because I really liked Robin, but I really loved my sister, so I thought Robin would understand. I made the choice based on my selfish desires but I thought that I was doing the right thing – honoring my family. What I didn’t understand at the time, and it took me years to finally start to do it, was that once you give your word that you will do something, you need to do it. (Unless it’s absolutely impossible to do so.)

At first, having integrity seems difficult:

  • I’m afraid I may miss out on something if I keep my word
  • If I gave my word I would sell something to someone at a certain price, and someone else comes along and offers me more.  Integrity means, I honor the first offer – ouch! Sometimes integrity costs me money.
  • Being a person of integrity means when I say yes, I mean it.

Keeping my word is a form of integrity, which I didn’t understand at age 10. It is something that clearly defines us a person so people come to know they can trust and rely upon us. For instance, once, my mother explained to me that I can’t arrange to go out with my girlfriends on a Saturday night, and then if a boy asked me out on a Thursday, cancel on them to go out with him. Not only is it demeaning to me, (why in her old fashioned opinion would you say yes to a Saturday night date, when asked on a Thursday?) but it also shows my disloyalty to my friends.

Keeping my word is hard. Sometimes it is painful to do so. Better things always seem to come up when I agree to do something. However, it can also be the universe is testing our willingness to stand firm in the face of temptation to break my word. It becomes an opportunity to find out how the universe responds positively and karmically when faced with a choice. When I stand firm and keep my integrity intact, I am spiritually rewarded for it.

Psalm 15:4 : “…He makes firm commitments and keeps his word” (does not renege on his promise.)


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