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The Integrated Life


Integrity. What does it mean? We normally think of it as "telling the truth" or being honest but this is an incomplete view of integrity. Let's go deep for a bit on etymology, or the history, of this word. The word comes from the Latin "in" which meant not or without and "tag" which means touch. So from the derivatives of the word it formerly meant something more like un-touched, or un-touchable. We later changed its true meaning to whole.


It is helpful to think of the word integrated as we seek to understand integrity and applying it to our lives. It meant "to bring together parts of." These parts made whole the noun it described, like it was un-touched. None of this may be helpful in our today's definition of integrity, and we hope we didn't lose you yet. The complicated history of the word integrity has morphed its meaning into meaning something more similar to truth telling today, but perhaps a look at the ancient meaning of whole-ness or togetherness helps us in determining much about ourselves.


We at Woodforest Counseling think of integrity as: the parts in my life add up to what God wants for me, wholeness. Each of these parts of my life are important and valuable to God. Having integrity is allowing God's hand in all of the parts. The below poem was shared by my counselor many years ago, author unknown. We pray its words be clear and help you discern what a WHOLE life means in God.



The Integrated Life


First, get to know and learn to appreciate your Maker intimately, realizing just how BIG and truly GREAT He is. Breathe Him in deep, take a sunrise walk with Him (in the snow is nice), explore the beauty of nature with Him, hold hands and play with one of His precious children, minister to someone who is dying, hanging out where life is at its most raw, where it's fully at risk and hanging in the balance, where it's most appreciated, and when you hear His voice calling you, instructing you, inviting you to do something - stop, listen, and obey, no matter what. Second, appreciate the beauty and great gifts that are a healthy body, a curious mind, and a vibrant spirit. Care for them, feed them healthy food, protect them, stretch them, and, most importantly, enjoy them, being sure to never abuse, ignore, or poison them, ever. They are the essence of your capacity for co-creation with God and human productivity. When any one of these cry out for attention - stop, listen, and tend to them, no matter what (unless God's called first). Also, remember that the best way to truly love and honor this human "self" in life is to fully and completely love your God. Third, if you are fortunate enough to have a partner, appreciate the beauty and great gift that is this other person. Care for them, feed them healthy, loving interaction, protect them, stretch them, and, most importantly, enjoy them, being sure to never abuse, ignore, or poison them, ever. They are your best and most reliable human support for tending the garden that is your life. They are the essence of your capacity for love and partnership. When they cry out for attention - stop, listen, and give it, fully and immediately, no matter what (unless God or your own health and well-being has called first). Also, remember that the best way to love another person is to fully and completely love yourself. Fourth, if you are blessed with children, appreciate the beauty and wonder that they are. Care for them, feed them healthy food, protect them, stretch them, and, most importantly, enjoy them, being sure never to abuse, ignore, or poison them, ever. They are the essence of your capacity for boundless joy and patient surrender. When they cry out for attention - stop, listen, and give it,

fully and immediately, no matter what (unless God, your health, or your partner have called first). Also, remember that the best way to parent your children is to genuinely love your partner, their other parent. Fifth, if you are blessed with living parents and siblings, appreciate the beauty and great gift that they are. Care for them, feed them your acknowledgement and thanks for their crucial role in your life, protect them, stretch them, and, most importantly, enjoy them and give them access to enjoying you, being sure never to abuse, ignore, or poison them, ever. They are the essence of your capacity for compassionate forgiveness and blessed thankfulness. When they cry out for attention - stop, listen, and give it, fully and immediately, no matter what (unless God, your health, your partner, or your children have called first). Also, remember that the best way to honor your parents and your family of origin is to live a rich, healthy, and happy family life. Sixth, in your chosen communities (including church, neighborhood, non-profit affiliations, etc.), appreciate the beauty and great gift that they are. Care for them, feed them your presence and your available resources, protect them, stretch them, and, most importantly, enjoy them and give them access to you, being sure never to abuse, ignore, or poison them, ever. They are the essence of your capacity for unrestricted generosity and selfless service. When they cry out for attention - stop, listen, and give it, fully and immediately, no matter what (unless, of course, God, your health, your partner, your children, or your family of origin have called first). Also, remember that the best way to serve others and be served is to live a connected, healthy, and loving relational life; it is not about your money or resources, but YOU. And, finally, if you are blessed with meaningful, useful work to do to earn an income, appreciate the beauty and great gift that this is. Care for your work, feed it your presence and your passion for your life, protect it, stretch it, and, most importantly, enjoy it and give it your very best (which will be available only when working from the above to here - from the inside out), being sure never to abuse, ignore, or poison it (by bringing your life's chaos to the office and other people), ever. It is the essence of your capacity for creativity, making a difference in the world, and the healthy and self-sustaining abundance that comes with these. When it cries out for attention - stop, listen, and give it,

fully and completely, no matter what (but only from the foundation of a properly cared for and cultivated life - you cannot truly give what you do not genuinely have). Also, remember that the best and most reliable way to "perform" at work, in a way that makes a difference and creates and sustains life over the long haul, is to live a life that truly works according to God's plan.

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