I had to learn early to just do the next right thing.
It wasn’t that easy coming from the territory I came from. My parents’ lessons taught me many things, but integrity, unfortunately, wasn’t among the list.
I grew up knowing how to manipulate to get what I needed. That’s what they did. I wasn’t taught to ask for something. When they wanted something, they took it. That’s not integrity.
The rules of my childhood home allowed and encouraged lying, stealing, deception and – at the top of the list, pride.
Pride is an ugly creature. When that mask is in place, you can present to others like you’re the king of the mountain. When the mask is removed, what’s left behind is a solid place of uncertainty and rejection for the real human being who wore it.
I studied underneath them and I learned. I was a good student and complied by their rules.
When I hit the streets of real life, it was a sudden blow to find that there were other rules in play. There were people who told the truth. Some even thought there was honor in being forthright.
The world felt so foreign until I found a man that had the same rules as my parents. You know what I did? I married him! That way I didn’t have to redesign what I’d been taught. I was barely alive when I was 17. I had no strength to recreate a new rule structure or find integrity. I didn’t even know that word existed.
That’s the truth.
By God’s design and under His study, I retrained myself. Slowly, but steady.
I had a really bad counselor once who taught me a very cool lesson. He said, “Remember to not build yourself on anything that can be taken.” I fired that guy but I kept that great principle.
I try not to build myself on things that can be taken.
The kind utterances of another, the very next day, can turn into words of cruelty. My bank account can comfortably pay my bills, until it can’t. My face will only age and wrinkle – better not build some worth around that!
Integrity! That’s a great big word for a very meaningful life. I think I’ll think on that a while.
A long while.