The integrity in us all
When today’s contributor was treated dishonestly by a lawyer, a spiritual perspective on the quality of integrity replaced her anger with compassion, which opened the door to an outcome that helped both of them.
I once hired a lawyer to help me navigate a complex situation. I liked the lawyer very much. He was personable and experienced. But as I began to follow his instructions, it seemed that he had intentionally misguided me and charged very high fees for it. I called him immediately for an appointment to discuss the problem.
Beyond the feeling that I wanted my money back, what troubled me most about the situation was the seeming lack of integrity. I had learned in my study of Christian Science that an ability to express integrity isn’t the exception but the rule because, spiritually defined, integrity is the state of divine wholeness that God creates and maintains in us all. Divine Truth, another name for God, is the source of completeness, perfection, and goodness in all His spiritual offspring. So any behavior that contradicts this goodness is inconsistent with what Truth, God, has created us to be and do – a lie about God and His creation.
This reminded me of how Jesus described the devil as an impersonal claim of evil – as a liar, sourced in a lie. He said, “He is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). Jesus didn’t ignore evil. He was often quick to point out what was blinding someone to their inherent wholeness and goodness. But he also dealt compassionately with those caught up in such behavior, often reminding them not to sin anymore. We are all capable of correcting lies that are exposed about our real nature.
Inspired by these ideas, I prayed for insight into the integrity – the wholeness, soundness, and incorruptibility – of God’s creation. I sought the absolute truth of what it means to be a child of God, divine Truth. I wasn’t ignoring the dishonest behavior, but I felt certain that an understanding of how God creates us would free me from its effects. And in my heart of hearts I wanted not only to find this freedom for myself, but also to help the lawyer find freedom from dishonesty.
By the time of the appointment I felt thoroughly persuaded that dishonesty is unnatural to us as children of God. I understood that evil can’t forever deny the present and powerful good that God, divine Truth, creates in us. The anger I had felt was replaced with compassion.
I told the man I had to see him because despite his actions, I knew that at heart he was a man of integrity. And I meant it. As I spoke, all defiance washed from his face. He immediately admitted what he had done, which had apparently been out of fear that his business was going under. He wrote me a check to cover all but a small amount (representing the work that he had rightly performed) of what I had paid. I was deeply moved by the repentance he expressed. And he accepted my offer to pray for him and his business.
Our paths crossed again later. I learned that he had changed the focus of his work to helping an underserved class of individuals. He was doing well, and his practice was flourishing.
A letter Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy once wrote included these lines inspired by some familiar ideas: “The upright man is guided by a fixed Principle, which destines him to do nothing but what is honorable.... We shall never find one part of his character at variance with another” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” pp. 147-148). The admission that our integrity is spiritual and intact, when accompanied by the understanding that God is our true source, acts as a force for change. It brings spiritual awakening and healing. It unleashes the power of Christ, the divine Truth that impels the highest thoughts and best actions, reaching to the very core of our being. And the power of this healing Christ leaves no one out.