“Integrity,” says Spencer Johnson MD, “is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.” Of the two, I find telling myself the truth much harder. I think we all start out in life with a good reference point – knowing the difference between good and evil. But, pain and sorrow rip us apart and we are left having to reconcile between what we thought we knew of the good and our experience of evil. The challenge – the true challenge in life is to not let go of the good. In spite of everything I may learn about myself or others – about motives, shortcomings, cruelties, and failures – goodness is possible for us, in us, and through us. For Everyone. No matter what.
In “Slumdog Millionaire,” there is a famous outhouse scene (see clip), in which young Jamal is determined to get the autograph of a visiting celebrity. Another boy traps him in the outhouse by jamming the door, and Jamal’s only way out is to take a literal “shit dive.” Covered in excrement, he runs through the crowd and triumphantly gets the autograph! Telling ourselves the truth is a little like taking a shit dive. It is believing that God’s intentions for us are good, that he is not against us, and that he will help us to get through the shit. Reading Hebrews 11, I was struck by all the people who acted in faith and risked believing that God is good. And yet, there is still a veiled mystery to God’s plan.
“Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.” Hebrews 11:39-40 (The Message)
His plan for bringing goodness to completion and wholeness is still underway. In the meantime, life is a risky, faith-filled shit dive. Everything I know of God tells me this is a risk worth taking.