I woke a little early (1 am), and couldn’t go back to sleep. As I was praying, I kept thinking of those I’ve seen struggle with living in integrity. We’re careful to display our integrity to others by wearing masks which conform to the image of whichever denomination or belief system we’re trying to emulate. And though we outwardly applaud each other’s masks, we secretly like when someone fails in their integrity, because it makes us feel better about the conflicts we’re actually having in our own.

We need to understand that integrity doesn’t come from our will. I know that may rankle those who’ve been taught to fight off their self-medicating behaviors by stuffing all their pain, fear, doubt, and shame down deep, and substituting those behaviors with some form of religious performance.

Integrity is a result of intimacy. It’s your state of agreement with God’s grace, healing, truth, righteousness, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faith, hope, love, and a thousand other good things he has for you. Yes, of course it’s a choice you make. Every day. Sometimes every few minutes. But the difference is that you’re never on your own. The power to live as your heart really wants is never drained, because it’s a constant flow from God through you. Self-control isn’t sin management. It’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life.

You don’t have to work to have integrity as if you’re mining for coal. The work, if you want to call it that, is in cultivating your relationship with Jesus. It’s taking time to listen for what he’s saying to your heart, whether that’s an inner knowing, or a Psalm or other scripture that makes you come alive. It’s letting him renew how you think—about yourself, your relationships, and everything you’re dealing with. It’s blessing and praying for those he brings to your heart. It’s forgiving those he says you’re chained to by an offense or wound. It’s being honest—as ugly, raw, and real as it takes for you to give him access to the darkest corners of your heart and mind. It’s being teachable, and authentic with those God gives you to help clean out those dark rooms, fill them with his light, and walk in the fully empowered blessing of integrity he has for you.

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