What does it mean?
Defined as adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
I would also say, as would others, it is the things you do when no one is watching. It is the truth of your heart - it's the consistency of choosing the right path, regardless of the painful or isolating outcome of the integral choice made.
I have the great honor and privilege to be married to my best buddy, Jeff. He is far from perfect, but he has been a wonderful example of what choosing Integrity looks like. He has chosen at times to take the hard path to redemption, but he has allowed God to work all things for good according to His purpose/plan.
Jeff chooses humility when it comes to his soldiering days. He does not often speak about the experience. However, as I continue to do life with him, and while I know I have been his greatest challenge and blessing (all rolled into one passionate pretty package). I think about how God has built Jeff's character in the past few years. Bending him to the point of broken. Letting him fall so far that most people would crumble. The words of his Colonel (below) put so much perspective into how I believe Integrity just seems to no longer matter to most people anymore.
"First, I submit that my opinion in this regard should be heeded. I spent almost three decades soldiering in three armies for two different countries and in three different wars. I know men, and I know battle. In addition to this experience, and far more significant in my mind, is the fact that my wife of 33 years and I have raised a son to honorable manhood in spite of the modern condition. Finally, I have been successful in business, and, presently, as a Special Education teacher of children with intellectual disabilities.
Without reservation, I testify to you now that Jeffrey Sinclair was the most heroic and honorable of all the 900+ soldiers under my command during the deployment of my Air Assault Infantry Task Force during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005. With the clarity of hindsight and in-depth retrospection, I deem his actions in combat, day in and day out, and the impossibly bitter, no-win dilemmas he faced and invariably overcame with honor, more than qualify him for this claim.
His personal courage is something I never questioned, and, to be frank—given the business in which we were engaged—physical bravery was such a given, so universally displayed, I held it to be among the most mundane of virtues. What it is that makes Jeff the hero of heroes among my soldiers is his moral courage. His rectitude in this regard was on daily display, but his actions in one particular instance forever guarantees his place in my heart as a righteous being.
Suffice it to say, without any impetus than his own heart, he chose the hard, right over the overwhelmingly, seductively easy wrong. Jeff did the right thing at the right time where simple inaction would have allowed him to sail along unscathed. I don’t mean to be cryptic, but I see no purpose in providing details. Jeff’s heroic and selfless actions at what was the very pinnacle moment of my unit’s combat tour, saved the honor of the unit. His sense of right and wrong was a true and unwavering beacon that directly caused my vast and far flung organization to survive with its collective soul intact.
Many soldiers act out of a sense of reward. They fantasize about medals and honors bestowed by higher echelons of power and prestige. This is beneficial as it motivates the common man to acts of goodness. Jeff’s motivation comes wholly from within. Jeff’s reward for his many outstanding accomplishments and particularly for his single, sublime act was ostracism and worse from the venial, base, and rotten many that served with us. Yet, true to his nature, he soldiered on; he bore the burdens, he daily placed himself in harm’s way...he did his duty until the deployment, mercifully came to an end." Col. F.
Those words remind me how amazing people can be in the face of adversity. It challenges me to continually search my heart and mind. Not to live up to the standards of what people think I should do or be. Not to live according to how others may or may not think of me. To live according to what I know is my Truth, my Journey. The journey won't always be easy, but without a shadow of doubt, I know the right choice is the best choice. Recognizing I am not living to please others. I want to please my Father above. (Jeff, thank you for doing the very hard right thing! Your service to this country is a blessing to me and so many others who will never know what a true hero you are! I love you!)
So, at times when I don't feel like doing the "right" thing. Or being loving towards those I really just don't want to love -- I'll do it anyway because I want to be a woman of Integrity. A woman of Love. Oh, I get to be angry at injustice, but all it's doing it is motivating me to do better. Be intentional. Be a more compassionate woman:
A Wife. A Mom. A Daughter. A Sister. A Friend...
Thank you to those who will hold me accountable and love me through this journey... all my love