Choosing Integrity Over Image
I struggled with an eating disorder for four years. In order to maintain some semblance of order, I controlled my thoughts and feelings through binging and purging. I lived behind a mask, pretending everything was okay. In reality, I was hurting. Although pain and disappointment governed my life, I built a public image of a girl who had it all together, a woman in control of her own life, making her own choices.
False realities are dangerous.
As it will 100% of the time, my inner world collapsed, shortly followed by my outer world. And man, did it ever fall apart. The lies I had convinced myself to believe could no longer sustain the life I pretended to lead. It was the most painful time of my life and staring up from rock bottom hardly yielded any light. I was convinced I would never get out of that pit.
I valued image over integrity.
How I looked to others mattered more than my own freedom. I feared risking my reputation with honesty. I cowered quietly in a corner behind the silence of shame, until the pain of changing became less than the pain of remaining the same. Suddenly, what other people thought no longer mattered. The cost of freedom, of walking in wholeness, of choosing integrity at the expense of my image, no longer felt too expensive.
More recently, on a particularly vulnerable morning of LIVING ON NO SLEEP FOR TEN MONTHS AND THE LAST MONTH WITH A TEETHING BABY, WHO IS CRAWLING ALL OVER HIS MAMA THE HUMAN JUNGLE GYM AND LICKING MY COMPUTER RIGHT NOW, I made the mistake of scrolling through social media. A helpful tip for free: When you want to quit Motherhood and Life, do not view your friends and acquaintances perfectly filtered highlight reels, and evaluate your life based on the events you could not participate in. (Or weren’t invited to, which is why we have a no social media House Rule during dinner parties BECAUSE WE’RE ALL JUST HUMAN, RIGHT, and don’t we want to be included even if we wouldn’t have gone anyway? Am I alone in this?)
There is no filter to help this. “This” being the white person aging situation and the desperate need for face masks, moisturizer and eye cream.
Anywho, as I flipped through photos, I came across a post that probably felt true for the person, but it was a partial truth in the scope of the full context. In fact, it was a subtle dig towards some people, people working towards the same mission. Honestly, I was mad. My first instinct was to defend; then, I realized it didn’t really matter. It is Facebook for pete’s sake – the opinion capital of our world, the place where perspective reigns over reality and where image is King.
Image is about attention – spinning each situation to work in our favor. Our culture is obsessed with image. Our lives are permeated with the desire to make ourselves look great. But integrity is choosing our thoughts, words and actions based on values rather than personal gain. I believe that the root of creating a false image or even a half-truth image of who we are, is pain.
Pain is hard. Feelings are real. Sometimes the hurt is so deep. Sometimes an offense is so large that the only option is walking away and forgiving in the quiet space of our own heart before God. For those of you in this place, I am sorry. It hurts so bad. I am praying for you. Please know this moment won’t last forever.
Then there are times when we flat out refuse to reconcile or forgive, when we would rather make others look bad, than deal with our own contribution to the issue. It’s easier to villainize than it is to walk in forgiveness, restoration and truth. It’s easier to make ourselves superior to others than it is to admit we all have differences and weaknesses.
The truth is, we’re all just broken people.
What is the image we are building? Is it an honest representation of who we really are? Can we admit together that there is a gap between our ideal self and our real self? Let’s be kind to one another as we forgive and work out the pain of our lives. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT) Let’s value integrity over image.
A final piece of wisdom from Sir Winston Churchill: “We are all worms. But I do believe that I am a glow-worm.” You really are spectacular. Glow, friend, glow.
Unlike his Mama, this kid needs no filter.