Early in my ministry, I was in a conversation about something, and found myself blurting out something about how it doesn’t matter much what you say you believe, the ability to live it was what counted. A member of my then congregation, didn’t exactly wearily sigh, but did note that she had heard that message one or two times too many. “Yes, Linda, so you’ve said. We’ve gotten the message.” I was startled to learn that I had been so repetitive, but it’s the way with preachers. We get a message in our heads and it’s hard to get it out again, especially if it’s a good one.
That is a good one. And like most of the really good ones, it’s easier to say than it is to actually apply in our lives. We know what’s right, but sometimes – we hope not often – it’s harder to do it. We see what needs to be done, but cannot get our hearts and hands to move to the work. Sometimes it’s just too big, like the refugee crisis, or the struggle in Haiti where they still haven’t fully recovered from the hurricane, or fixing the economy, or whatever is currently weighing on your heart. A friend posted a list on Facebook a day or two ago of the things that weigh on him, and I couldn’t bear to read it after the first two. I scrolled down diverting my eyes from the 25 or 30 items listed.
Living what we know is right, living our faith is often a challenge. That’s what integrity calls us to do. Live it as fully and as well as we can.
Integrity is the Soul Matters theme for the month of January, and you are invited to consider what it means for you to be a person of integrity.
Perhaps your work for integrity comes from keeping your heart set on what you love most in the world and breathing it into each moment of your life.
It could be something as everyday as making a healthy, delicious meal for your family, tangible, tasty love.
Or integrity means taking a stand with a co-worker who has made a comment degrading to Muslims.
It might be the excavation of the burdens you lug along with you, doing that deep healing work of building peace in your own heart, the work that frees you then to turn your gaze to how you might heal some small section of the world.
Your shoulder leaning into some deeper justice work is another movement toward integrity, toward really living your faith deeply and truly.
Whatever that work is for you, there’s one thing it isn’t: perfect. Growing in integrity also – especially – means the ability to recognize that human wholeness isn’t a gem to be polished, but a tender plant to be nurtured day on day.
How are you living into your integrity? Into your wholeness? Let us journey this month to discover and live this together.
Rev. Dr. Linda A. Hart