….who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts. – Psalm 15:4
My parents raised me with integrity. That included a wide spectrum of things such as work ethic, persistence, and honoring my word. These qualities are all things I take very seriously. When it comes down to how people perceive me, this is what they adhere to. It’s important I honor those aspects of myself – they may be the ones that make a difference in someone else’s life.
Maintaining a standard of integrity doesn’t mean things will run smoothly, nor does it mean we’ll never be hurt or disappointed. In fact, we’re probably hurt more, suffer more disappointment , and feel more sadness than those who could care less. We tend to be “used,” and “taken advantage of” simply because we desire to step above the pettiness and walk away from certain conflicts.
I recently offered to assist a woman who was bogged down with work, life and family. The offer was made because I cared about her and hated to see her in constant turmoil, overrun with daily muck. She would give me tasks, and I happily worked to accomplish the small things she’d needed. It was a pleasure to help her, to see that she was digging from beneath the mess life had dropped on top of her. That is, until the jobs were complete. I walked past her at a meeting and over heard her bragging to her friend how she could just throw the trash jobs to the woman who offered to help her and she reaped the benefits. Her friend’s face turned crimson, as she pointed to me.
The woman, turned and eyed me then said, “I was just telling her how….er….uh…you helped me.”
My heart sank. This was just cruddy. All the things I’d done were done because I cared for her. I expected nothing in return other than the joy of having served. Smiling I remarked, “it was my pleasure” then I turned and walked away to complete the things I’d started. I’d said I’d assist her and I would honor my commitment – even when it hurt.
The truth is, she was using me. I could have stood eye to eye with this lady and let her have it for taking advantage of genuine love and compassion, but it would have been fruitless. Suddenly, the life of Christ became immensely clear. He’d come into this world, gave me His word, served me humbly and then died for me. In my mind, a vivid picture of the Savior came into view. How hurt and brokenhearted He must have felt as He died on the cross for me, knowing that many times I would’ve simply used Him and then bragged on how He did the dirty work.
Once again, I bundled up and took a short walk. I asked the Father, “Why does it hurt so badly? I was trying to do the right thing.”
He eased into step with me as I climbed the hill in the back. “It hurts because you freely gave and were taken advantage of.”
“It doesn’t seem fair – to hurt over this, that is. Why do people use us?” I asked.
“Greed and selfishness are everywhere. Integrity is not what it used to be. But then are you in this for the praise?”
“Heavens no! I did those things because I wanted to help.”
“Then your heart was in the right place. You did as I have commanded. You served.”
“I just felt….well…..used.”
“And rightfully so. But you gave your word, you joyfully worked, and your treasures are in heaven. It doesn’t matter what’s here.”
“I guess. I didn’t expect any treasures. I just wanted to help.”
The Father stepped in front of me and brushing my hair away from my face, He reminded me, “You did, child. You did.”
I felt a little comforted knowing God was pleased.
“Hey, God. Before you go. A friend gave me this little tid-bit.”
The Father stopped and placing His hand on His hip said, “Shoot.”
“He sent me this email that said, ‘Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible and receives the impossible.”
“Smart friend. And what does that teach you?”
“To have faith in the heart of what I do. Believe that what I do is amazing in Your eyes, and You will make the impossible happen.”
“Integrity means a lot. Your word means a lot. But My word means everything.”