Having an Identity of Integrity

These are the reasons why having an identity of integrity is important to me.

IDENTITY

When it comes to identity, there are some things we can control and some things we can’t. For instance, we can’t choose our genetic make-up or where we were born or what family we were raised in. We typically don’t even choose our names.

I am Denise.
I am a redhead.
I am from a small farming town.

I did not choose these parts of my identity, but they are still true of me. Of course, there are other parts of my identity that I did choose.

I am a follower of Christ.
I am a wife.
I am a mom.
I am a teacher.
I am a writer.

INTEGRITY

With integrity, however, we have a choice. But what is integrity?

Integrity means wholeness, an undivided state of being.

I remember when I taught middle school math. The definition of an integer is a whole number. Not a fraction.

As a language arts teacher, I also know that to integrate is to bring together multiple parts to form a whole.

Integer
Integrate.
Integrity.

Obviously, they come from the same root word.

To be a person of integrity is to integrate the various parts of my identity into one whole person — the person I am at home, at school, at church, the grocery store, and everywhere else.

If I were to behave differently in these various places, then I would not be a person of integrity. But if I choose to be consistent in how I talk, how I act, and how I treat others — no matter where I am — then I become a person of integrity.

And that is the identity I want.

Who in your life influences you to have an identity of integrity?

Today, I’m joining Lisa-Jo, taking 5 minutes to write about “identity.”


Writing this post: 5 minutes
Uploading photos and links: 7 minutes
Spending Fridays with you: Priceless

The Definition of an Enemy May Surprise You {It Certainly Surprised Me}

Jesus said to pray for our enemies. And I’d like to be obedient. But my problem is fairly straightforward: I don’t think I have any enemies.

I guess it all depends on how you define enemy.

Being the list-maker I am, I decided to make a list. Not of my enemies, per se, but of the people I don’t enjoy being around — the ones I avoid, who have hurt me in some way.

The list surprised me.

Every name came from one place: Church.

Really? I scanned the list again.

Not a neighbor.
Not a co-worker.
Not a parent from my kids’ schools.
Not a parent from my kids’ AYSO soccer teams.
Not a parent from my son’s Boy Scouts pack.

Nope. The people who have hurt me the most were from the one place that is supposed to be a safe haven. Church.

To be quite honest, I wasn’t sure what to do with this.

Discouragement seeped into my soul as the real enemy echoed: Why bother going to church at all? The people there are hurtful.

I stared at the list some more, feeling a bit befuddled, until I remembered why I made the list in the first place. To pray.

I did.

Then something changed. Verses came to mind, which gave me a new perspective.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world . . .”
~ Ephesians 6:12

The enemy is not sitting in a pew four rows over.

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock
I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
~ Matthew 16:18

Wasn’t Peter the impulsive one? The one who often spoke before he thought? The one whose words seared deep into the heart of the Messiah?

Yet, those very words, of lies and betrayal, are why Christ died. And Jesus still picked Peter — broken Peter — to lead His church.

Plenty of people enjoy bashing the church for any number of reasons. I’m not one of them.

I believe the Church — the global community of believers — is God’s chosen vessel. But we’re a broken vessel. Which is precisely the point. On our own, we can’t effect positive change. Not in ourselves. Not in others. We need Christ. All of us. Which is why I continue to attend weekly church services. Not because it’s this awesome lovey-dovey community. No, we’re real people with real hurts. And we’re all at very different places in our own spiritual journey.

We need to extend grace to those in the church who may not be at a place, spiritually speaking, that we would like them to be at. We also need to remember where we once were ourselves. Maybe even still are.

Have you prayed for your church lately?

After making this prayer list, I purposed to make another one. A list of the people I’ve known in Church who have blessed me in amazing ways. That is what led to my Hidden Heroes Series.

Hidden Heroes {Silver Edition}
Hidden Heroes {Nursery Edition}
Hidden Heroes {Memory Edition}
Hidden Heroes {Youth Pastor Edition}

Quitting the Game Called L.I.F.E {In Favor of Something More REAL}

To grow up in my family meant to be fiercely competitive when it came to games. Some of my fondest memories are of staying up until 3:00 A.M. trying to take over the world — on the game board of Risk.

My mother and grandmother were no exceptions either. They played the meanest, and I do mean meanest, game of Scrabble you ever experienced.

I am hopelessly no different.

I love to play board games. And I play to win. (Just ask my kids.)

So whenever board games go on sale at Target, I stock up. Recently, I bought a game I remember playing as a kid: The Game of L.I.F.E.

But when I opened the box and read the directions, I was startled. I had forgotten so much of the game. To get started, you choose “career” or “college.” Then you buy a house. Invest in stocks. Get married. Have babies. And don’t forget to pay your taxes once a year.

Basically, whoever retires with the most money wins!

It sounds a lot like real life.

I’m pretty sure Jeff and I started our marriage with a similar game plan. But something happened along the way. The things that were once important to us were no longer as important.

Buying a bigger house. Upgrading to a fancier car. Filling our lives with things.

More things. Nicer things. The kinds of things you can impress people with.

But the thing we discovered most is that it’s not real. Not any of it.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with owning nice things. As long as those things don’t own us. But using things as a way to measure ourselves with others perpetuates a false identity. And it’s not the identity we want.

A number of years ago, Jeff and I made a decision: When people think of us, we don’t want our things to be the first thing they think of. We want people to know us. The real us.

We try to stay ever-mindful of what is most real: This life is not our home. We’re on a journey. Towards a destination. A real one.

Do you remember “The Game of L.I.F.E.”?

“What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
~ James 4:14

Today, I’m joining Lisa-Jo, taking 5 minutes to write about “real.”

Looking up verse: 2 minutes
Writing this post: 5 minutes
Uploading photos and links: 9 minutes
Spending Fridays with you: Priceless