“But I don’t wanna do my homework, Mommy!” Looking around the messy kitchen and lacking the motivation to clean it or cook dinner, I made my son a deal. Mommy does the homework; Zechariah empties the dishwasher, loads the dirty dishes, cleans off the counters, makes dinner and sets the table. The strong-willed twinkle in his eye gleamed and he accepted my offer. Stunned, I watched as he rolled up his sleeves, pushed over a chair to stand on and began doing everything I asked of him with a smile on his face.
I, in turn, sat down at the table with his second-grade math.
Zechariah kept an eye on me the whole time, multitasking between his chores at hand and coming over to “teach” me how to do the math problems. (He didn’t know that I had planned on sending his teacher an email that evening explaining our little family project and why his work was done in my writing.) Each time Zechariah came over to see how I was coming along, he seemed to be getting more and more nervous. He had finished everything but the dinner preparation when he stood next to me with his head down and a very solemn look on his face. “Mommy,” he said softly, “I don’t feel good.” When I took him into my arms and asked what was wrong, he went onto explain that he didn’t think I should really do his homework because it wasn’t honest. He said that his teacher wants him to do his own homework and it didn’t feel good inside knowing that someone else was doing it for him. He said he still wanted to cook dinner (aka microwavable leftovers), but he really wanted to do his own homework too.
For years he and I have been talking about the word “integrity” and what it means to walk it out in everyday life. And for years, I have wondered if any of those conversations have fallen upon anything but deaf ears. Yet today, I couldn’t stop the water from filling my eyes when my son began counseling me on what it means to walk in integrity regarding his homework and the beautiful conversations and lessons that flowed from there.
Truthfulness is not always easy and doing the right thing even when no one is looking can be tough. How many of us can recall that first conscious brush with something we knew was sin or a lie and the sickening feeling that filled our stomach as a result? But how many of us stayed sensitive to that feeling through the years and used it as a guide that would teach us right from wrong for decades to follow?
It’s a simple truth we teach to kids – thou shall not lie – but it’s an easy one for us to reason our way out of as adults. We convince ourselves that “little white lies” and “small exaggerations” can’t hurt a thing but, in reality, it hurts our ability to hear from God and remain sensitive to His Spirit’s leading in our lives.
I want my son to live a life of integrity and righteousness, but I want that for myself as well. I want to be sensitive to those nudgings of the Lord when He’s using my gut to tell me something is amiss. I don’t want to reason my way out of it. I want to grow and learn through it. In the big things, and the seemingly small. I want to walk in integrity. I want to walk in truth.
Lord, help us all to be sensitive like little children and return to the simplicity of Your truth. We’re never too old to learn, start afresh and yield to You. Help us, we pray, and show us the way to walk in integrity in all we do. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.