Jesus said, “If you stick with this, living out whatI tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience the truthfor yourselves, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32).
Jesus forgot to mention that before the truth setsyou free it may first make you miserable. He nevertheless understood thedynamic of staying with integrity. “If you stick with this, living out what Itell you….” That is the challenge for us all: honoring, speaking, and stickingwith the truth that we know rather than violating, hedging, and compromisingthat truth in order to please others, make money, escape pain, avoidcontroversy, stay comfortable, dodge responsibility, delay decisions, feelsafe, be nice, or execute countless other excuses.
What’s your excuse? Are you staying in a job or arelationship that you know you should leave, that isn’t good for you or thatdoesn’t embody your true values, because you’re too afraid to make a break? Areyou caught in a net of deception and deceit, such that you’re no longer surewhat is really the truth? Are you so tired and depressed that staying withintegrity feels like too much effort with too little return?
Whatever they may be, executing excuses rather thanintegrity exacts an enormous price. To be out of integrity, to be out of syncand out of step with what is right and healthy for you, is mentally,physically, and spiritually exhausting. Deep down you know the truth, even ifyou’ve been repressing or avoiding it for years. Why not speak the truth andlive accordingly?
Speaking the truth is literally the first step tostaying in integrity. That’s why many people find coaches to be of greatassistance. Coaches ask clients, over and over again, to speak the truth abouttheir lives. Are you happy with what you’re doing and how you’re living? Whatfills you with passion and joy? What people, things, and situations are youtolerating? What fills you with regret or disturbs you about the past? What areyou putting off or procrastinating about?
Answering truthfully these and others questions,speaking the answers out loud to another person, can be enough to push peopleover the edge of taking action. Many coaches have stories to tell of peopletaking dramatic action in the first week of coaching. All they needed was tospeak the truth in order to make it so. Other people find that it takes moretime to build up the confidence, knowledge, and reserves they need to make achange. With the right coaching, however, it should never take more than amatter of months.
You’ll be surprised how effortless and wonderfullife becomes when you’re operating fully out of integrity. Coach U points outthat “fewer problems are experienced, consistent feelings of peace andwell-being are present, plus one reacts to others very little.” Living out ofintegrity is a matter of wholeness, of talking the talk and walking the walk,of being who you really are rather than the twisted self who you may havebecome.
Does that sound like the kind of life you want tolive? Then perhaps you need to implement the second step to staying inintegrity. After you speak the truth, make a commitment to embody the truth.Straighten out what you can straighten out. Reconcile what you can reconcile.Resolve what you can resolve. Restore what you can restore. If you can’t do itall, then start with the big ones. Eventually you’ll become the person you wantto be: complete, balanced, and responsible.
Living with integrity is always a choice. No one canmake you do it. And it’s not exactly something you should do, as though God orthe realities of life were chasing people around with a big stick. The sunshines on us all, whether we’re in or out of integrity. Integrity is more likesomething we’re free to do. We’re free to choose to be our best, to be whole,to practice what we preach, to embody our true values, to honor our truewisdom, and to follow our true path. When that happens, when we take off downintegrity lane, life becomes a perfect blessing.
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC