Integrity is Everything

Integrity

I’m going to make a confession.  I don’t listen when you leave me a voicemail.  I did see that you called and if you are over the age of 60, there’s a fair chance I will call you back.  That’s my nod to the old fashioned notion of respecting our elders.  It’s a solid concept, plus those folks are typically technophobes.  Under 60?  You’ll more than likely get a text that says, “Need something?”

In good news, I’m not going to be bugged when you ignore my message for a week– or forever.  As long as you respond in a timely manner to my SOS, we are square.  “SOS” would be the triple threat:  call, text and email combo.  That constitutes a legitimate emergency, in which case, you’d better get your shit together and find me if your intention is to remain one of my peeps.

This (oh-so-flattering) self-portrait I paint is my way of saying I value authenticity.  My life is run at a chaotic, even manic pace.  There are decades of our lives like this, I have decided.  Trust me when I tell you I wouldn’t trade this time in my life for anything– it’s one big frenetic gift from God.

“Spread love everywhere you go.  Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”  – Mother Teresa

I like this quote so much I had it printed on stationary.  People remember how you make them feel.  For the love of God, and the sake of my soul and yours, I’m getting up on a soap box today as we conclude the school year.

“Well, we’re planning a trip to Michigan this summer,” I replied just today to a mom who asked about our plans for the vacation months.  “Oh. Well that’s nice.  WE are SO excited to be going to Europe to do some touring and learn some world history with the kids.”

Sigh.

Some of my closest friend and I have been wrestling with this issue of why so many folks seem to be trying so hard to make sure that they (or their spouse, child, or all of the above) appear to be better than the rest of us?  It creeps out in discussions of grades, test scores, and most certainly on the sidelines of sporting events.  Has anyone else noticed there’s an epidemic of competitive, hardheartedness around here?  These are good, faith filled people so I know in my soul it’s rooted in simple insecurity and worry.  Each one of us is trying to outdo the other.  Social pressure, the urge to excel– well it’s getting ridiculous,

If you’re guilty, you know who you are.  I’ve served time for that conviction myself, so I would know.  I do forgive you.  But, CUT IT OUT!  You’re bugging me.

Here’s the thing.  Authentic, integrity filled, loving people don’t judge you because your kids are on baseball game #78 and you’re counting sunflower seeds as your protein as serving it with a perfectly paired “vegetable” known as popcorn from one of Central Indiana’s finest concession stands, counting down the days until you’re sitting beside Lake Michigan doing NOTHING EDUCATIONAL, thank you! (Yes, I know, that’s a run on sentence.  If you read it correctly you can hear me saying it in one breath, very loudly)!

Genuine friends don’t get their underwear in a knot when it’s the third practice in a row they’ve schlepped your kid along with them.  They simply understand you have 3 events, and 3 kids, and you can’t tri-locate.  They’re hoping when their 2 toddlers get bigger someone equally kind will take pity on them in their poverty.

People of integrity overlook a grumpy morning, and in fact, a really genuine friend may gently call it to attention if it’s a repeat offense and offer to talk, pray or hug.

The older I get, the less time I have for people with agendas or those looking down on me.  It takes courage to simply be up front or invest a moment to be kind.  We’re got to do a better job a loving each other, darn it!

That means if my son is being a jackass, I’ll believe you.  When you confess you let him have it, I’ll not get in your face.  I’ll say, “Thanks for handling it.”  Guess what?  The uber competitive parenting?  I’m out.  You win.

It’s true I’m super proud of my oldest son for having the most compassionate heart, and I’ll cheer really loudly for him if he somehow hangs onto the best case scenario B- he is desperate for in Math.  You betcha when Drew takes the ball hard to the hoop or Zach catches a line drive, I’ll be smiling widely and clapping with volume.  AT THE SAME TIME, I’ll be genuinely pleased for your kid who got an A+, and I’ll pray for him and his peace of heart when you share with me he’s feeling defeated by a coach who plays favorites instead of your equally talented, good character kid.

Can’t we be on the same team?

I’ve run into too many people of late who seem to have this habit of keeping score in all things.  I love me some good competition as much as anyone.  However, we’ve made a left turn somewhere with our “Blue Ribbon, A+ Schools” and our “I’m better than you” mentality.  Maybe comparing ourselves with others is natural and I’m sure it can be beneficial sometimes.  I argue today, however, that we must be collectively desperate for reassurance and comfort.

So, if it makes you feel better to know that my youngest son won’t eat anything that resembles a sandwich, and the only vegetable he will eat is corn on the cob….well…I’m here for you other “inadequate” moms.

However, our worth as mamas should not be measured against the successes and failures of another gal who’s doing her best not to raise little criminals.  Our worth should be measured in how well we love.  Let’s try for affirmation and reassurance of one another?  Let’s agree to cut out the crap and keep it real.  There’s no such thing as a perfect cookie cutter Christian.  We’re all doing our best– or are we?  For me, I think the only authentic glimpse of eternity that we get here on this planet is to truly love one another.

Guess what?  That means we have to have the humility to realize who we are and who God is calling us to love.  You and I need to look up from the cell phone and scan the room.  We’re supposed to LOVE these people right here in front of us.  Let’s build each other up, folks.

For all of you who ever walked away from me feeling like you were less, or if I made you mourn what your kid isn’t, or you felt belittled, or ignored, then that day, I got it woefully wrong….and I am profoundly sorry.

My aim is to follow the example of Mother Teresa from here on out.  Loving without condition, loving like Jesus, is not easy.  Still, I think it’s worth looking at the cross again and trying a little hard.

Someday, I want my kids to say, “My mom, she was kind of a sassy pain in the rear, but she was kind to everyone.”

It’s something nobel to work on.  It’s called having integrity.

“I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no more hurt, but only more love.”  –Mother Teresa

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