“It costs personal fear to be authentic but the reward is integrity, and by that I mean a soul fully integrated, no difference between his act and his actual person. Having integrity is about being the same person on the inside that we are on the outside, and if we don’t have integrity, life becomes exhausting.” – Donald Miller (Scary Close).
Integrity goes so much deeper, so much wider than simply – keeping our word
What hurts you. What excites you. What you think. What you feel. What pleases you. What disappoints you. Who you are. What matters to you.
Have you ever relegated these you-things to the background because of shame? Like – quietened or squashed something that mattered because it held a supposed lack of weight due to the louder voices standing to your side? Or, perhaps for a similar reason there have been times pride pushed them into the foreground because in some way your you-ness felt threatened and the need to shout (rather than squash) your place arose?
Instead of being motivated by shame or pride, perhaps integrity would plant its feet firm-down into what is sometimes the scary position of simply being true?
Maybe if integrity were running your show – it wouldn’t so much squash or shout as it would simply stop
and be still
and be that which supports you – to stand here.
Running from our now is exhausting – I can attest to that, but to stop in our here can also be scary. So, which might we choose? And how might we be safe in our stopping?
Perhaps integrity (not our ego) is the real protector of both ourselves and the other – and it’s only in our facing what is true can it take on this role. Maybe it is protection of a healthy sort – that leaves space for the voice to rise rather than fall. It offers a protection that preserves and encourages growth, rather than being that which and suffocates and keeps hidden, what is within its arms. To lose our integrity, I think, isn’t just about not keeping our word – it is to trade-in precious fragments of who we are for what will only ever be cheap replicas of who we are not. When we do that, we are robbed of rather than gifted what was only ever supposed to be ours to embrace.
No amount of contorting ourselves to fit the supposed desired shape of another will recreate or better the you-fragments first discarded. And no amount blind refusal to embrace the different colours that are undeniably approaching our canvas, will create space for what could actually be complimentary colours to our unfolding life-work of art.
Integrity not only protects your you-ness, but it gives it space to breathe; a space that is flexible enough for growth, but strong enough to hold and protect without faltering, the precious essence of who you are.