imperfectly perfect

Tonight at Socrates Cafe I made this statement: I want to be a woman of integrity.
How do I become a woman of integrity? If I tell the truth, if I am loving, kind, humble, patient, generous etc., does that make me a person of integrity? Or am I a "good person" (for lack of better word choice) because of who I am at the core?
Do I find my integrity apart from my actions? Do I draw my confidence from my action, or do I need to draw that from somewhere else?

I think this is an important question for various reasons. I think it is fairly simple for a person to create a lifestyle that looks a certain way. If I choose that I want to be an organized person, it is fairly simple to construct my environment to seem organized. If I want to feel peaceful, it is fairly simple to move myself into an environment of simplicity and peace. If I want to be a moral person, I suppose it is fairly simple to make moral choices.

But do these actions really solve my request? Am I then organized, at peace, or moral?

Does this seem like an elementary question? Let me take it a little further.

I don't really need to mention (although I will) that we often live like this in the church. I am a Christian. Why? I am a Christian because I go to church every Sunday. I pray. I give money to the poor. I read my Bible. I try to be humble, etc. While our actions can be effective in demonstrating our faith (Faith w/o works is dead) these actions alone do not make me a Christian. On the flip side, just because I fail in these actions---that doesn't mean I'm no longer a Christian.

You might be saying "Well duh April" but don't mock me. This is the way that many people think and if we can't interact with this prevalent mindset then we are never going to connect with our culture.

Let's stray away from religion for a minute. In all different areas of life we live by standards. We have rules or standards for our careers, for our roles as people (children, parents, friends, citizens). We have standards for health, for habits, for finances... and we are also constantly falling short of these standards, and often times we really beat ourselves up about it.
Sometimes we fall so short of our standards that we end up in great emotional stress and we feel like we just generally suck as people. Well, at least I feel this way sometimes.

I really think that we place a lot of meaning on our actions/inactions. I think we judge ourselves by our actions, and I think we judge other people by their actions.
And furthermore, I think that we often try to fix people's problems or needs with methods or recommendations of new actions. We try to share healthy habits with people. Healthy habits are highly important, but I think there's more. Is there more? Am I making any sense at all? I'm having a really hard time drawing my thoughts together.

Here's the thing. I need God in my life. I need God to help me BE a woman of integrity which is something that happens underneath my skin. BEING a person of integrity has to be more than just actions. In the same way, we are Christians because of who we are underneath our skin, which is far more than our daily Bible reading, or restraint from "sins" and/or the ways in which we live our lives. I become a peaceful person underneath my skin, which is more than just a peaceful environment.

Also in the same way, we MUST react to people (our culture) in a way that treats them underneath the skin.

If I say that I am a Christian, then I darn better live in a way that makes me look like a Christian. But I MUST not forget that ultimately I am a Christian because of the God I serve and not because of the person that I look like.

I am a woman of integrity because Christ lives in me and when I mess up, or when I act like a jerk, or when I am frustrated or depressed....Jesus Christ still lives through me and redeems my actions or emotions and makes them meaningful. I really feel like my humanity (constantly being redeemed) is dripping with integrity. I call it my imperfect perfect human self. I am perfectly imperfect.

I'm going to stop my thoughts here. It's late and I'm starting to notice that I'm rambling. Please comment if you wish. Please correct me or critique me if you wish. I hope I have made sense.

Love to you.


Mom said...

Wow Great Thoughts! I think we are whatever we are because of what we believe.If we think and operate most efficiently in an organized environment, then we strive to create that environment, and that makes us organized. If we believe in Jesus and his redemption, it makes us want to behave appropriatly. We do on occasion mess up our environment and our behavior, but we believe....cont.

Mom said...

...we believe in the redeeming power of Christ and we move on, trying to act out our beliefs.

Stace said...

wow! Mom! Deep thoughts!

April said...

I know! Maybe mom should start a blog!

paul said...

Here's the thing. I need God in my life. I need God to help me BE a woman of integrity which is something that happens underneath my skin. BEING a person of integrity has to be more than just actions.

The most profound thing that i've read for a long time, thank you for sharing it.

More and more I am convinved that God who is tri-une means that we need divine community and the community of humanity - it is why we gather to help each other because we do so in reflection of our tri-une God.

or to put it another way, as you suggest are integrity is expressed in and through relationships...