Recently I've been challenged with integrity, and I've been challenged to truly live it. To submit to it. But first, I need to understand it.
I know the definition, the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. Especially when no one is around, or when it's hard to do so. I've been told this since I was a young boy.
But recently, I've begun to wonder if it can also be something more. And not more as in better, but more as in more - more than what is commonly understood. In addition to.
Like this. Being a man or woman of integrity carries with it the understanding that one with strong moral principles or uprightness will not fail or make poor choices, because by the very definition of integrity, they wouldn't. That's why they have integrity.
But what does it mean when people fail, when their moral principles crumble? Does that mean they are no longer men and women of integrity? That they are men and woman of fluid morals? Because, to be honest, although I try to live a life of integrity, of moral uprightness, I don't always. I don't commit any of the heavy hitters like cheat on my wife, steal money from my employers, or abuse the poor, but I do plenty of other bad things, some of which people are all to ready to point out but none of which even scrapes the surface. Because I'm good at secrets and putting on a tie and making people laugh. Sometimes.
So does that mean I am not a man of integrity?
When my friend struggles to keep his eyes from wondering and his fingers from clicking, does that mean he can no longer be trusted? That he is a man without integrity?
Maybe. I know my Mom would say so, but lately, I don't know. And it's because of scenes like this:
A priest who gets into bar fights and who curses like a sailor could easily be described as a man without integrity. Yet, it is the very thing he accuses the young priest of - and it's the worst thing he could say about anybody!
What gives him the right for such an accusation? What sort of understanding does he have that I don't?
I wonder if its honesty.
The older priest doesn't pretend to be someone he is not. He doesn't follow a bunch of religious rules because it looks good and puts him in good standing with the community (which is what I am often tempted to do), but does what he knows is right. Like apologize.
Could a man or woman have integrity AND falter? Could their morals shake AND they maintain integrity?
I think so. I hope so. Because the men and women I respect most in this world are not the ones that do all things right all or most of the time, but the ones that have enough courage and humility and love to admit their faults, seek forgiveness, and try again tomorrow - with grace and understanding. With integrity.
These men and women know what their looking for, they just find it hard to get there sometimes. They need help. And that is something I can relate to, and someone I want to follow.
If I'm honest.
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