I’ve been struggling this week, struggling for a worthy topic. Somewhere I heard that, as a writer, to keep your creative juices flowing you should pick a topic, any topic, then force yourself to write 500 words on it. Actually something like that sounds thrilling to me, so you can pretty much tell how twisted my mind is. Imagine writing a blog entry on yellow polka dots or string beans or the mating habits of crickets. (Something, by the way, I had to Google up. Did you know that the female cricket deposits her larvae on the male? Imagine having to write 500 words on that!)
So at first, I thought I’d write about courage. The cowardly lion got it right: we all need a little bit more of that in our lives. It would be so easy to write 500 words on courage. Yet the more I thought about it, there was another character trait that needed unpacking. And that word is integrity.
I like the definition offered by Barbara Killinger (PhD and an expert on workaholism): integrity is a personal choice, an uncompromising and predictably consistent commitment to honor moral, ethical, spiritual and artistic values and principles. That about says it all. The word itself comes from the Latin word, integer, which means wholeness.
I used to think that dishonesty was the enemy of integrity. Now I think it is busyness. That seems to be our new drug. “I’m too busy to…” Fill in the blanks. Call a friend, write a letter, bring dinner to a soul in need, visit with someone after church? We all have good intentions, but we’re too busy doing who knows what. We live at a frenetic speed, connected almost constantly to Facebook or Twitter, with a cell phone almost surgically attached to our hand. But for all our improved ways to communicate, why are we so unhappy?
There are layers to that answer, but mostly I believe that in our hurriedness we rush past our life; the one right in front of us. We measure our value by what we do, what we can do instead of who we are or, more importantly, Whose we are. We’re so fast we never get comfortable in our own skin. Because here’s the truth: we can’t know ourselves, our friends or even God when we fragment our lives so we constantly struggle with the clutter in our heart. It is only when we slow down, remove all the distractions and listen quietly that we can become whole.
Then we notice God working. We can see His fingerprints, His provision over our day. In peace, we can alter our self-talk, creating words that encourage us instead of destroying our confidence. Only when we stop rushing can we give ourselves fully to our family and friends. It is only by living in the knowledge of Whose we are that keeps us whole.
By surrendering to the cross, your countenance changes. You want to push out society’s busyness and cling to the One that matters. A sacred, noble life forms through the grace of God planted firmly in your heart. You live well. Your life matters.
At the end of the day, I want to feel special. I want to connect with people who know me and love me in spite of knowing me! I want to listen to stories that are authentic, inspiring and true. I want to touch the hearts of those who touch mine. To become a friend reaching tenderly into the soul of another with powerful, positive results. I can only do that if I am fully known by God.
In order to know God, to see His hand leaving beauty in my life, I must slow down. I must cherish integrity. I must be whole.