Integrity

“Lord, I know this is going to hurt, and so I hesitate to ask it – but Lord, I ask that You will make me an artist of deep character and high integrity for the cause of Christ.”

And from this prayer, along with many other things, FortyOne20 Ministries was born.  Asking for integrity is like asking for patience: God is going to put you in situations where you are tested and grown. I asked anyway, and whenever I will catch myself in a situation that’s particularly challenging and asking why, God? Why?, God points me back to this prayer. This is exactly what you asked for. Humph.

Integrity.  It’s a loaded word. Most people have heard of it at one time or another, but very few people have a clear concept of it. Webster’s defines integrity as “uprightness, soundness of character, moral wholeness; the condition, quality or state of being complete or undivided.” When I worked as a cashier, the company explained that integrity is being who you are whether or not someone is watching.  That may be stating it simplistically, but it’s to the point: hypocrisy cannot exist with integrity. Pretense destroys integrity.

When I think of a person without integrity, I think of the storefront facades in old wester towns: ornate and elaborate on one side, but not much of anything on the other. They appear to have great character, but it’s all an act.

Integrity is a struggle for me as an artist. (I can’t say whether it’s a struggle for all artists, but I’m betting there are at least a few others like me, so I’m going to share it anyway). You see, I want to be liked.  I want my art to be liked.

When I am making a movie, writing a poem or story, or singing, the end result is the overflow of my heart. I literally put myself into what I create. When it comes time to share my art with other people, I am putting pieces of myself “out there.” So every time I sit down and create, I make a choice: I can either put myself “out there” the way I want to be seen (or the way I think people want to see me) or I can put myself “out there” the way I actually am.

Can I be honest for a minute? The way I actually am is not usually pretty.  Until about a week ago, I had kept up a personal blog for about three years. It was mostly my thoughts in response to a trial I was going through at the time. Anybody who read it can tell you that there were days when it was encouraging and uplifting, but there were also days when it was hurt, sad and angry. It wasn’t an outlet, wasn’t even me processing, it was just me.  About a year ago, the tone of my blog changed because I suddenly felt like some people didn’t like the real me. So the real Lydia took a blogging vacation, and happy/joyful/positive/fine-just-fine Lydia started writing. My readers may not have noticed, but I sure did. Suddenly, there was immense pressure to perform. I had let go of my integrity.

Before graduation last summer, I remember crying out to God in pain – many times. I remember the day I had a breakthrough. Very clearly, I felt the Holy Spirit convict me: Why are you deriving your worth from what people think and say about you? Why do you need their affirmation? Let Me affirm you.

And I began to slowly to tear down some of the walls I had built.  I think it had been going well – not too easy, not to hard (haha) – when I asked God to make me an artist of high integrity. (What was I thinking???) As a result, the old struggle of performance over reality especially in creating art has popped up again.

I want me art to be God-honoring and excellent, but I also want it to be honest. I don’t really have a solution, but I do believe it is possible to create God-glorifying, excellent and honest art. God is still teaching me how. I think I need to begin with honesty – being real before God and others – and pursue excellence from there. But it’s a journey.

“The integrity of the upright will guide them…”

Proverbs 11:3

No challenge with this one, folks. Just think about it… 🙂

***

Lydia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television and Film.  She is passionate about reaching artists for Jesus Christ.

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One Comment to “Integrity”

  1. Enjoyed hearing your thoughts!

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