Integrity stems from the Latin word integer, which means whole and complete.

There’s no bifurcated self of joy on our latest selfie on Instagram and of depression even as we hit “post” of that very same image.

Too many of us have come to believe the lie that we have to put on a pretense of happiness and success and popularity. We have come to believe that our sadness is not okay or that our fears cannot be openly shared.

When we admit we are all messed up, we can never again live as though we aren’t. We are forced into a place where people can no longer see us as “The Jones” with perfect lives and lawns and children and bodies. We can begin to have conversations—albeit somewhat slowly at first—where we let people see a bit of our true nature.

Just one in a million stories...

Maya Angelou hit the nail on the head when she wrote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Every time we live without integrity, we find ourselves in Angelou’s words.

Years ago, someone on a local campus was arrested and found guilty of possessing vast amounts of child pornography on his home computer. The police confiscated hundreds of pieces of evidence. This destroyed his family. And his students. And his colleagues and bosses who believed him to be a man of good reputation, wisdom, and, yes, integrity.

Living a life of integrity isn’t pretending to care about someone while, behind his back, you mock him. It isn’t pretending to be a ‘team player’ when in reality you don’t value others’ opinions. It isn’t going into a job interview listing a strength as a pursuit of excellence when mediocrity has been your guide.

Integrity is being the same person in the dark that you are in the light. More so, though, it’s being someone of character both in the dark and in the light. 


Our conversations and relationships change when we are a person with integrity:

“I had a hard night” becomes less scary to say out loud and leads to a deep conversation with a colleague who is trying to quit drinking. 

“I feel alone” becomes the starting point with a neighbor who is struggling to raise her kids while her husband travels for weeks on end. 

“I’m disappointed I didn’t get that raise” breaks the silence for those who continue to be rejected in many parts of life.


How do you see integrity playing out in your own life? And in the lives of those around you?