Barely 5 minutes after we brought our third son home from the birth center to meet his brothers, Isaac, then age 2 1/2 asked “Can he run with me?”
We happen to have the moment on video and the look of disappointment on Isaac’s toddler face to hear that baby only knows how to sleep, eat and cry is hilarious.
(While it is true that baby Henry couldn’t join in the chase and wrestle games with his Papa and older brothers right away, I am happy to report that he is now an active participant and runs along with the rest like a boss.)
But there is one thing that babies do much, much better than the rest of us. Regardless of who is watching, a baby will act the same. On an airplane, during sacrament meeting, or in the middle of the night, baby will cry or coo with no thought of their audience (180 grumpy people, 100 people trying to be reverent, a house full of sleeping children…)
Do we ever act differently depending on our audience? Sure! It would be professionally inappropriate if we had the same level of casual familiarity at work as with our best friend. Part of growing up is learning how to act according to the audience. I spend a large portion of my time teaching little boys that just because they are upset they don’t have the right color marker, doesn’t mean they can wail, whine and gnash their teeth while sitting in church. (#truestory #lastweek)
On the other hand, integrity hails as one of the key virtues; it is the virtue that keeps who we are becoming intact, whole, and real, rather than like a chameleon, changing with the surroundings, eventually finding that our splintered growth is unsustainable. If we have become very patient with our adult peers, yet practice no restraint in the face of our children’s mistakes, what progress has been made?
(Ah!! You caught me! I’m not really blue!)
My mission president taught often about being busy rather than appearing to be busy. The lesson cut me to the core as I felt I had been guilty of this before. My vow from back then to do rather than seem to do has carried over into my parenting. I’ve tried to resist the urge to parent differently because of who is watching and instead be true to the parenting principles I believe in. When I catch myself acting a part because of who is watching, I say a prayer because I know God can root our dishonesty from our souls when we ask. I have felt that cleansing often.
This scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 121 is one I think about often. How can we reduce the seemingly rampant hypocrisy in our world, our church, and ourselves?
41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
Or, in other words, our goodness can’t be sustained by anything other than gentleness, meekness, love infeigned, kindness, and pure knowledge. If we want our souls to enlarge without hypocrisy and without guile, than we must seek out pure knowledge (the scriptures!). The scriptures keep our souls grounded in humility. One who constantly reads the scriptures about repentance has a much harder time lifting their souls up to the clouds of falsely perceived perfection. I believe in the power of God’s word! The good word of God soothes my soul but it also rakes me across the coals enough that there is not much room for pretending. 😉
There are quite a few scripture with this study today.. I just couldn’t find which one to leave out!
S: (Prayer/Ask) Why does integrity matter so much on our pathway to follow the Savior?
M: (Study) The Young Women’s personal progress experience for integrity includes a fabulous list of scripture stories that illustrate integrity. (I loved reading these different experiences drawn from across the canonized scripture!)
- Jesus is the perfect example. Read these verses in 3 Nephi. Think how He perfectly did His Father’s Will regardless of who was watching.
10 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
11 And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.
- The story of Joseph in Egypt exemplifies integrity even before the enticing wife of his master. Notice how often she tries to weaken his stance. Also notice the ‘reward’ of his integrity. (luckily the story does not end here..) Read the short chapter of Genesis 39
1 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.
5 And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that theLord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.
- Job stands strong in unthinkable tragedy. His fortune is lost, his house is burned, his family is killed, he looses his friends and finally his health. He is one of my heros.
3 And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. (Job 2:3)
This is how he responds:
3 All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God isin my nostrils;
4 My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utterdeceit.
5 God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will notremove mine integrity from me.
6 My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live. (Job 27:3-6)
- Paul shows how we can have integrity even in the face of those the world lifts up on a pedestal. Read his experience with King Agrippa.
10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judæa, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
- I have always loved these words from Joseph Smith. His honest, simple, integrity must be respected even by those who do not believe he is a prophet.
21 Some few days after I had this vision, I happened to be in company with one of the Methodist preachers, who was very active in the before mentioned religious excitement; and, conversing with him on the subject of religion, I took occasion to give him an account of the vision which I had had. I was greatly surprised at his behavior; he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things had ceased with the apostles, and that there would never be any more of them.
22 I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects—all united to persecute me.
23 It caused me serious reflection then, and often has since, how very strange it was that an obscure boy, of a little over fourteen years of age, and one, too, who was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by his daily labor, should be thought a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling. But strange or not, so it was, and it was often the cause of great sorrow to myself.
24 However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.
25 So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.
- Can you think of someone in your life who you think has perfect integrity? How do you feel about that person?
- Now think of someone who you feel is constantly changing depending on the situation. How do you feel about that person?
- Why must the Lord demand integrity from His disciples?
- Are you a person of integrity?
R: (Write) your thoughts, what you learned, impressions you received, and anything else in your scripture journal (include your thoughts on the study session question:Why does integrity matter so much on our pathway to follow the Savior?)
- Look back to the scripture accounts of integrity. Make a short list of the different audiences these people of God kept their integrity in front of. (for example, Paul to a king, Joseph in Egypt to a powerful woman, etc)
- Make a new list of different audiences you find yourself in front of. (for example, family, the boss at work, your social media platforms, etc)
- Looking at these two lists, can you see parallels of who God asks us to have integrity in front of? Identify which platform might be your weakness in staying true to who you are, if any. Write why this might be the case.
E: (Prayer/Thank)- thank God for what you’ve learned and ask if there is anymore.
The Challenge: in one of the situations you identified above, avoid the temptation to do something just because someone is or isn’t watching.
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