Throughout the fall semester a friend and I are reading Stephen L. Carter’s book Integrity. Integrity is a word often tossed around in Christian circles. Living lives of integrity seems as if it is often a theme for retreats, it is talked about in the church often in a gendered, “men and women of integrity” sense. However, although we toss around this word so often, I question if all the “integrity talk” has inoculated us from real integrity. We talk so much about it that we don’t sit and consider what we mean and how to actually live out that belief.
In his text Carter defines integrity in a variety of ways, but at the center is, “wholeness . . . [an] implicit obedience to the dictates of conscience.”
It is not unfair to say that often we are uncoordinated and find ourselves not living out our beliefs. We find ourselves doing that which we do not want to do and not doing what we hope to do. We feel as if we were living lives divided and fragment. We can deconstruct numerous reasons why this may happen, but I want to suggest that one of the main culprits to the lack of integrity in our lives is busyness, Carter agrees,
For if we decide that we do not have time to stop and think about right and wrong, then we do not have time to figure our right from wrong, which means that we do not have time to live according to our model of right and wrong, which means, simply put, that we do not have time for lives of integrity.
If we would start taking time, being patient . . . not only taking a Sabbath day, but also living life with times of Sabbath integrated in our days . . . if we would do these things what would be different about our lives? Scripture tells us to “be still” to know God and to listen for the “still small voice” of God. We are misguided when we believe that these are merely actions that we take. Yes, the intentionality of a Sabbath day, solitude, silence, etc. are valuable. But I believe God is calling us to much more. Called away from the frivolous things that waste time, against our hyper-realities of busyness, to put aside our desire to conquer and thus do more and more, to confront ourselves by taking away the distractions busyness construct. And instead called to redeem time with rest, reflection, community, and renewal.
One of my favorite understandings of salvation is that of “healed.” Perhaps the integrity we search for is intertwined with the healing of salvation. To be in the process of being healed (or saved) is to be in the process of being made whole again. Whole in the created order; our relationship with God, other, creation, and ourselves. Salvation is the experience of being redeemed, reconciled, regenerated, and renewed. So as with integrity, perhaps the great barrier to us experiencing true salvation from the sin that entered the world is not our lack of desire for God, but our commitment to busyness.