Have you ever opened your heart, trusted someone and then felt the horrific sting of betrayal? Have you ever dropped a wall in hopes that the reason for the wall itself was somehow all wrong from the start? That’s the stuff dreams are made of after all. The hope of something we never thought would happen or perhaps had convinced ourselves wasn’t really possible. I’ve been there. I’ve had the hope that came with breaking down a wall while asking God to reinforce that I was right in doing so. I’ve pushed through fear and pain in order to trust again and I’ve felt the joy that came with being open and vulnerable. But I’ve also felt the sting associated with dropping defenses only to experience betrayal. It hurts when you step out on a limb and later wonder if you really just exposed yourself to someone who was unworthy of that gift in the first place.

I have a theory about walls? We build them to protect ourselves, when in fact, we get hurt anyway. Life happens whether we are open or hidden from the world. The difference in getting hurt with walls up, is that we suffer alone when we’re too guarded to let others in. We determine never to let ourselves be hurt again, but the truth is, that we continue to get hurt in the same way over and over until we learn what it is about ourselves that keeps us in the cycle. Have you allowed another person to rob you of your joy? Have you allowed someone else’s actions to stagnate your growth? Have you begun living your life fearful of trusting or taking a risk? Are you missing out on the greatest joy’s in life by being too cautious?

Being willing to be vulnerable and open is one side of the coin, but I want to flip that thought around now and take you from being the injured to the injurer. If you are the betrayer, rather than the betrayed, you need to look at yourself and your patterns. Do you find yourself hurting those you love over and over? Do you tend to repeat the same offenses and mistakes? Do you receive feedback from people about something negative they see in you only to reject it over and over? Do you listen to others? Do you trust God to change you or have you surrendered to your failures? Have you allowed your failures to define you?

If you have been given trust from another person, you need to know that it is a GIFT. Those who trust us find value in who we are and they take a risk to expose themselves to potential harm. Trust means they would rather risk having you in their life (potentially getting hurt), than not having you at all.

I’m writing this entry because the New Year is coming. A fresh start is just around the corner and it is never too late to make a change.Change is a decision, not a process. When you determine that you WILL accomplish a transformation in yourself, then you will succeed. You will not succeed until you make the decision! True change requires integrity. Integrity is doing what is right even when you don’t have to or even when no one is watching. You may fail on occasion but if you have integrity in your decision, then you will win even when minor setbacks occur.

A friend of mine recently included a definition of integrity on his blog. I loved it and have adopted it as my own it is:
Integrity – when our values control our emotions.
Put in simple terms, Integrity is living your life like it was a television show and God was in the audience.

If you don’t change aspects of yourself, when you know you should, then you lack integrity. Integrity requires that you be your best. Integrity seeks accountability. Integrity makes no excuses for failure. It does not whine or manipulate logic. Integrity insists upon self control. Integrity creates concern for how you treat others, mostly those who you love and who love you. Integrity always honors vows, commitments, promises and integrity gives value to your “word”. Integrity accepts nothing less than God would provide for you or expect of you. Do your values control your emotions? Do your values dictate your actions? Are you a stand up person or one who hurts others and yourself and then gets mad at “LIFE” (or God or others) for the outcome?

You may need to change some things like: health issues, diet, controlling temper, getting up on time, owning mistakes, demonstrating love to others, going to church or working hard at what your job . You may need to change more serious things like addictions, smoking, speeding, breaking the law, drugs, pornography or unfaithfulness to your spouse. Whatever the case, you must hold your success up to your own translation of Integrity and accept full responsibility for anything short of success. Success begins when you stop blaming your circumstances, and just “own” your actions. Life is hard and adversity will come, but integrity will always win out, if you possess it.

I LOVE New Years! It is my favorite holiday of the year because it always brings about a fresh start. I always have a feeling of turning a page and opening a new chapter. As you reflect this week on your life, what goals do you need to set? What changes do you need to make? If you can look back and see a lack of integrity running through your life and actions, then you must start there. You can puff your chest out and hold your head up and declare that you are a person of extreme integrity but your actions will speak the truth and you’re not fooling anyone but yourself. What are some things you need to change about your life so that you can become a person of integrity? It’s not a part-time deal. Integrity either is or isn’t. As you start looking at your goals for next year, start there!

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