I certainly got the insights I wanted when I registered in the Integrity Seminar (and a few that I wasn’t quite as ready for). Among them, I saw where I withhold my hurts and disappointments in attempts to keep other people from feeling bad. I assume they can’t handle my views or that they don’t really care about them. I assume they will get sad, angry, or annoyed if I share them. So I don’t share them, and I get sad, angry, or annoyed! Naturally, this leaves both of us in less powerful positions than I know are possible. At least I am somewhat aware of the situation. Often, they are in the dark about the my whole experience (and I am about theirs).
Despite this limited information, I do what humans do. I fill in the blanks about what I think is happening, and I draw my conclusions. Then, I become resigned about people’s motives and about my self-worth. I set us both up to fail in our relationship, if not beyond it. They are typically unaware of their impact on me, or they are aware of some of it and are confused by my behavior. We both end up standing in cowardice, which creates a wall between us that typically takes an explosion to remove.
In the Integrity Seminar, I also saw where I broke some promises that had people on the other side of this wall, feeling their own hurts and disappointments. I told myself the promises must not have mattered much–because the people I made them to didn’t say anything. That wasn’t true, even if no one said it.
I am now in action cleaning those messes up and making amends for not reading the business plan my sister wrote for her class, joining committees on which I don’t say or contribute much, starting personal projects I haven’t completed, and saying the classic “We should get together” without actually setting a date. Going forward, I am being more intentional with my word and taking more care to consider the world that exists around it before I give it. This is not to look good in your eyes or anyone else’s (although I admittedly will enjoy that by-product, if it results). It is for me to remain connected with who I want to be in this life. When I am not my word, I forget who I am almost entirely.
Here’s the best way I can summarize what I’ve learned over the past two and a half months:
Integrity is an exploration of word: where we give it, where we withhold it, why we sometimes give it no meaning, and how at other times we give it tremendous value. Our word gives us direction and calls us into action when we don’t know where to go. It challenges our trust in ourselves and God, the universe and a grand order or design. It creates a blank canvas on which we can paint a masterpiece, garbage or nothing at all. People will have their opinions, interpretations and discussions about it regardless. Or maybe they will not notice and say nothing at all, leaving you with nothing but your word.