"The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon..." - Psalm 92:12
**Photography by Melissa Talbot**
Malicious control, sexual manipulation, emotional blackmail, alcohol and sexual addictions. Just some of the things I was known for. Intolerance was always on the short list and indignant behaviours, a ritual. Each day was an experiment in how much darker things could become in character, attitude, and disposition.
That was all until the year 2007, when I planned to be wiped off the map but, instead, was drowned in unconditional love and acceptance. Before then, there was no real substance. No vulnerability. No compassion. No acceptance. There was no possession of integrity or realness. Just a blending in with the world and its 'norms'.
The world we live in today has smudged over honesty. Pressures to fit in and be a certain way have become expected. Upstanding character and integrity are becoming harder to find. Promises are broken, commitments are shrugged off, and the best intentions no deeper than a child's swimming pool.
We can see and hear the negative all around us at all times through social media, newscasts and gossip columns. The more shocking the story, the less we seem to be surprised by what is revealed. Are we in an age of doing away with upright conduct in exchange for keeping up with the masses? Is it more important to be ruthless and underhanded than to keep our word?
Character and integrity used to be an integral part of life, once upon a time. If your neighbour said they would do something, they did it. You didn't have to lock your doors at night and the kids could stay out past sunset without a worry to the parents. They really were simpler times.
Nowadays, there is paranoia, suspicion, correctness, and deceit 'a-plenty. When there are so many out there who never seem to keep their word, it can be hard to implement a strength of character in ourselves. It takes nerves of steel to go against the grain to be a person who will always do what they say, no matter what the cost.
After changing from a filthy mouthed, mean spirited, and condemning woman, this blogger set out to experience something never thought of. To gain tools that would bring out a person who followed through and kept their word. It wasn't easy and being that real and accountable was, at times, uncomfortable but so was staying the shallow, uncaring former self.
Having integrity and upright character became more important than going along with what everyone else was doing. There was less pressure, stress, and discouragement. Promises were kept and a once marred conscience, clean.
Jesus never broke a promise. To this day, He still hasn't. He was a man of His word and it, often, brought ridicule and rejection. He was someone who didn't cater to the masses or join along with the majority just to be cool or accepted. He carved a course that changed the times He was in and of generations to come. In the face of every despicable and underhanded act that surrounded Him, He always stood His ground.
It takes courage to be different in ways that can be refreshing to both ourselves and others. You might be laughed at or rejected but at the end of the day, you are someone who will be able to sleep at night. Soundly.
Encouragement for the week:
Do you feel a lack of courage to have integrity because of your surroundings? Do your friends or family belittle you when you display an upright character?
Going against a society that says, increasingly, it's okay to lie, cheat, and steal to get what you want, can be difficult and hurtful. Sometimes it can feel like you're a spawning salmon swimming uphill, upstream, and against the mightiest currents.
You may not realize it but someone is watching. When you keep your word and display strong, convicting character, someone is taking notice. You are making a difference in someone's life. Right now. It could be your spouse, your kids, or a complete stranger.
Don't stop being a person of your word. Keep your promises, no matter what. Follow through in the things you've spoken out loud. The more you desire to become an upright person, the easier it will get to be that person.
If you are a Christian, you have the greatest example and source of strength to be a person of integrity and character...Jesus. Have courage to keep doing what's right.
If you are not a Christian and you feel like it's impossible to become a person of integrity and character, well, you're wrong. Look for Jesus and you will find Him along with all the wonderful attributes that come in knowing Him.