Lessons in Integrity

The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! 6He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! …"
2 Samuel 12:1-7

Thursday I received a message that dug into the depths of who I am. For several years now, I have been praying to be a woman of integrity. I am thankful for this season of reflection and unlearning and growth so I can really take note of what God wants to show me. As it relates to integrity, the lesson was two-fold: it really helped me to look at my relationship failures and to look at myself with the magnifying glass to acknowledge how I have fallen short in this area.

I learned that integrity is more than just giving the cashier back the extra money she accidentally gave you. When you think of callous and evil people we often think of people who cause wars or victimize children and women. Yet, we don’t think about the men and women behind the Enron scandal or Bernie Madoff. We don’t think about our slick-tongued politicians or even some people purporting to be our pastors for that matter. But God does.

I realized today that I am proud of the progress I have made in becoming a woman of integrity but I still have some improving to do in this area. I specifically remember situations where I have padded difficult truths with white lies (I was thee queen of telling a guy I had a boyfriend because I wasn’t interested — if you went to school in the AUC it seemed like the only way a man wouldn’t call you out of your name or get unnecessarily aggressive with you), or avoided telling someone something they needed to hear altogether (like: you have a victim mentality and I don’t wanna listen to your problems anymore or leave me alone, your prying is getting on my nerves), which caused me more hurt. I have been on the receiving end too, like people telling me they would do something and then not showing up, or being lied to about being cheated on, or one of my favorites, being called a hypocrite behind my back but smiling in my face. As I went through the questions in "The People Factor," I could really see how God has protected me by removing certain people from my life. (Honestly, the tidbit I’ve shared here does not do this chapter any justice at all…or the entire book for that matter.) I can also see how those relationships were doomed to failure from the start because the people involved, myself in particular, did not demand integrity.

The author shares the story of David and Bathsheba and the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. These are two of the greatest offenses that God personally addressed. Here, with David, He spoke through Nathan the prophet and with Adam and Eve He spoke directly to them.

As I think today, if God spoke directly to me about my own offenses, would He be pleased? Would He be pleased with you?

It makes me think about the parable of the talents. If God can trust you with a little, then He can trust you with a lot. I want God to be able to trust me with allll that He has stored up for me. Fortunately, I am grateful to see the changes He has made in me, especially my growth in the area of integrity. He has made me more comfortable having difficult conversations, and He has given me strength to accept those hard truths (about myself and others) and put on my grown lady undies to actually address those situations. I trust God to get me where He wants me so that I can ultimately be the woman He called me to be. I suggest you read The People Factor if you’re ready for an honest look at yourself and to evaluate you and your relationships. I’m grateful to say that God has me on the right track.

At the end of the day, let God make you a man or woman of integrity. Don’t miss out on God’s best by settling for less than you can give. Don’t sit on the sidelines to your life while others take from you. You do have a choice. Choose to reflect Jesus to the world as you begin (or continue) your walk of living with and in integrity.

There was a man in the country of Uz named Job. He was a man of perfect integrity, who feared God and turned away from evil. Job 1:1

Journey to Me: Letting Go and Living

This is probably the most transparent I have ever been. I have actually been aspiring more and more daily to live in authenticity and transparency for a few years now but especially since God led me to do videos last year because I can’t put on a fa├žade for people. It is just too much work that I don’t have the time or energy or care to do. That’s not me, nor will it ever be.

For as long as I can remember, I have identified myself based on things about me and people associated with me, things I have accomplished, and things that have happened to me. For example, I am my mother and father’s daughter, I am a sister to my brothers, an aunt to my many nieces, biological and adopted, and a sister to my very close friends who have become my family. I am also a college graduate and I have a Masters. I am in law school so I am also a student. I am a Software Developer as my job title stipulates. I am a best friend to some people and probably a nemesis to others (I’m kidding). I am a survivor: I survived childhood molestation, the trauma of kidney disease and transplantation in my early twenties (I can’t believe I can say early twenties now either ) and I am the surviving daughter of my deceased father. I have also identified myself based on my appearance: I’m brown skinned, short-ish with long-ish hair. All of these "things" are how I have described myself. I omitted this last one, that I am a Christian, because I prefer to say I am a follower of Jesus and a believer in the Most High God. Another title I have is being a member of the Baptist church, although I personally don’t ascribe to denominations. In looking at me, I see how I allowed these things to box me in and its shocking that it has taken me this long to get past these "things" to understand who I really am. I am truly grateful to have been getting to know me and I love who I am now and who I am becoming.

God told me to "live" this year. It is only March and as I read more books, read the Bible more, pray more, and write more of what He shares, I shed those things I thought were keys to my identity and I really peel back layers as to who I really am. I’ve learned you cannot really live if you don’t know who you are. A person will say one thing and do another because they do not know who they are. And through this experience, God has solidified my belief that you cannot really learn and discover who you are without getting to know Him because He created you. Society tries to impress upon you its standards of beauty, identity and acceptance to try and make you conform to the ways of the world. It has been in my leaving social media and spending more time with God and myself that I have come to question everything that used to mean anything to me. I have realized how much value I gave things that didn’t really serve any true purpose. I’ve seen how much time I wasted, not getting things done by being distracted (I’m much more productive now!). Don’t get me wrong, I have not mastered distractions, I’ve just been learning to acknowledge them for what they are and pray for focus and help when they are more than I can overcome alone.

I have had to question every single thing I believed about myself, everything I thought and was taught to believe as truth. I’m grateful that God has given me the strength to do this, to uproot the lies and things I believed that were hindering me from becoming the woman He wants me to be. I’m not done yet, but I know as long as I keep my eyes on Him, He will be sure to get me to my appointed destination.

I don’t know where you are in your walk with God. I want you to know though, at some point you will have to walk alone. Just as Jesus stole away daily to spend time with God and spent 40 days in the wilderness alone with God, it is okay to be alone with God and to allow Him to show you who you really are. It was in the wilderness that Jesus spent time with God so that after He finished fasting, He was able to defeat Satan with every temptation thrown His way. It is only in allowing God to show you who you really are, that you are able to walk into His planned promise for your life. You are more than just your body or your appearance. You are more than just your denomination or belief system. You are more than your past and your current set of circumstances. You are more than what your family members see and say you are. You are more than that addiction, that rape, that childhood neglect, that surgery, that teenage pregnancy, or that dropout. You are more than that failure, whether it was a business venture, a job, a marriage or relationship of any type. You are more than your sexual orientation and what you feel about yourself. You are more than the effects of bad judgment calls. You are MORE. You can choose to allow these external and sometimes internal influences to mold who you are or you can choose to put an end to their control over you. Stop letting the lies keep you in a box and away from your destiny. Boxed-in living and thinking gives you a warped sense of reality. Opening the box and allowing the light to shine on everything you once knew shows you just how limited you have been.

The only way to overcome and surpass these mere boxes or labels, is to pursue truth and get truth into your spirit. The truth says, I am more than a conqueror. The truth says I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. The truth says you are more than what you should eat or what you will wear. The truth says that God loves you with an everlasting love. The truth says you are wonderfully, fearfully, and marvelously made. The truth says that we are made in the image and likeness of God. The truth says that God cares for us. And so, believe the truth today! I now rest in knowing that God loves me too much to leave me the way I was and desperately wants me to become who He designed me to be. Join me on my journey to me, by taking your own journey to discovering and becoming you.

Love ya!