Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Understanding "Dakryo"

Part 6 in the story series, "Second-Guessing God's Goodness ..."

Jesus wept.

It's the shortest verse in the entire Bible, yet it stands alone like a punctuated shout to the heavens.

Jesus wept.

After Mary, the second sister, falls to Jesus's feet in sorrow over her brother's death, something interesting happens.

Let's look at the scene.

Mary and the others with her -- the religious leaders who are there to "comfort" her -- cry. (I put "comfort" in quotes, because actually they are Jesus's sworn enemies.)

The original language says they were "Klaio" -- the Greek word for "wailing." Have you ever been to a funeral where wailing was taking place? Have you ever wailed in grief? Do you know the bitterness of soul, the anguish of spirit, that provokes the sound of a wail? I do. I've had black days. A loved one of mine once told me that during a season of my grief, my wails sounded like that of a wounded animal.



This is what was happening around Jesus and at Jesus's feet.

Were they wailing for lack of faith? Of course, the religious leaders who were there as spectators were wailing for the great drama it added to the scene. But we'll get to that tomorrow. Mary, on the other hand, wailed with the pain of a tortured child in spirit.

This provoked an interesting response in Jesus.

"He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled," says our modern English translation in the NIV in John 11:33.

But even that phrase doesn't do justice to Jesus's response. The word used in the original text for "deeply moved" was, "embrimaomai."

This was no simple emotion Jesus was feeling.

The translation of embrimaomai was used to describe "the snorting of animals" -- and as it pertained to humans -- anger. Not just any anger, though. Commentaries note that the real way to put this was that Jesus was "angry in spirit and very agitated."

In other words, He was pretty darn furious.

At what, though?

His good friend Mary, although she had imperfect faith, was in deep emotional distress. The wailing provoked embrimaomai -- not against Mary -- but against death itself. The evil of death -- the way that death robs us of those dearest to our hearts and minds and separates us from their presence -- provoked embrimaomai in Jesus. Sure, He could have been agitated at the fake Pharisees and their fake wailing. But the word, "embrimaomai," connotes a much deeper agitation than that. It speaks to Jesus's mission -- to conquer that (death) which ultimately separated man from God.

"Where have you laid him?" Jesus asked. "Come and see," they replied.

And here we see the famous verse:

"Jesus wept."

Here's the most fascinating part about the story, though. The translation for "wept" is NOT the same word used for the word, "wail." It's another word: DAKRYO.

And what was Dakryo?

It's sadness -- sadness triggered by empathy.

See ... Jesus knew He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead in a few moments and that all of this wailing would stop in a heartbeat. But He still felt their pain and sorrow.


He cried with them.

He longed to take all of this away from them, all of the pain they felt in the depths of their souls. He longed for death to no longer have power over mankind. And He knew that with His own death in a short time, that He would be the conquerer of death. After His own death, He knew that people would have an open invitation to come to God, to be reconciled, and to live eternally -- AND to be with one another again after each of them died!

This was pretty daggone glorious, if you ask me.

And yet ... Jesus wept.


Jesus cried because they were crying.

The most beautiful description I've found that relates to this scene is in C.S. Lewis's "The Silver Chair," part of his Chronicles of Narnia series. In the book, King Caspian has died. Lewis beautifully re-creates the scene of Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus next.

Read it with me:

"Then they saw that they were once more on the Mountain of Aslan, high up above and beyond the end of that world in which Narnia lies. But the strange thing was that the funeral music for King Caspian still went on, though no one could tell where it came from. They were walking beside the stream and the Lion went before them: and he became so beautiful, and the music so despairing, that Jill did not know which of them it was that filled her eyes with tears.

"Then Aslan stopped, and the children looked into the stream. And there, on the golden gravel of the bed of the stream, lay King Caspian, dead, with the water flowing over him like liquid glass. His long white beard swayed in it like water-weed. And all three stood and wept. Even the Lion wept: great lion-tears, each tear more precious than the Eath would be if it was a single solid diamond."


But wait ... this story isn't over -- not by a long-shot. Tune in for part 7 of the series, "Second-Guessing God's Goodness."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

That Thing Women Do

Part five in the story series, "Second-Guessing God's Goodness ..."

Women, you know the drill.

Something bad happens, and what's the first thing we do about it?

If you're like me, you pick up the phone, or you hit an Instant Message app, and you TALK. And you talk. And you talk. And you talk.

You analyze. You project. You decipher. You look for motives. You look for reasons. You look at behaviors. You examine yourself. You look for validity. You seek approval.

Now if the situation is really bad -- catastrophic, even -- what do you do?

You cry. You pass tissues. You hug. You console. You bemoan.

In short ... you don't let this thing go, and you'll talk to anyone -- ANYONE -- to understand what just happened in order to make yourself feel better about it.

Usually, if you're in a group of women, you'll hear everyone parrot the same phrases to you after a while. Before you know it, the entire group of gabbers has come to their save-the-friend conclusions, and everyone feels the same way about it, and everyone is giving the same assessment, and everyone is self-congratulating about how they each figured it out.

Now let's check out Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, Jesus's good friend who got sick and died.

They send word for Jesus to come. Jesus doesn't come. Lazarus dies.

Then Jesus shows up.

What each of them says to Jesus -- individually, and NOT in each other's hearing -- is really quite fascinating and telling.


John 11:21:

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

OK. That was Martha. Now here comes Mary:

John 11:32

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (italics, mine.)

Do you see a PATTERN here?

I wasn't there, but this is my take on it:

Isn't it interesting how both of those women were together at their house with "concerned" friends, waiting for Jesus, and each of them, independently, says the EXACT SAME THING to Him when they first see Him?

The words are exactly the same!

Have you ever been in a situation where you're questioning God's goodness or reasons for something, and it becomes a group discussion? If you're a woman, what do you think happens? I'll tell you what has happened in my personal experiences:

The doubters have very loud voices. And they are extremely convincing. Think about it. Mary and Martha are Jesus's good friends! But the first thing out of their mouths -- is the exact statement of doubt!

What was going on in their house?

We know they were surrounded by the religious leaders of the day, who had supposedly shown up to comfort them. Isn't it interesting how those same people were Jesus's enemies? And isn't it also interesting that by the time the sisters had a chance to talk to Jesus, their words to Him were words of accusation?

How often do you do this?

How often, in situations of crisis, do you consult others and come away feeling like God let you down?

I'm going to tell you something very plainly: The Person you need to be going to ... is God. Yes, it's fine for us to get support and prayer from other believers. But be careful. When your heart is in a vulnerable state, that window of opportunity arises for doubt to grab it in a vise. Before you know it, you're forgetting all of the good things God has done for you in the past.

And your words to Him are ... "If you had been here, this wouldn't have happened."

God is there.

God is with you.

God cares that you're crying.

And in part 6 of the tale, you'll see just how much Jesus cared about His friends. Tune in.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Back at the Ranch ...

Part 4 of the story series, "Second-Guessing God's Goodness ..."

Back in Bethany, another drama was unfolding that would give Jesus a human reasonable doubt to rush to Lazarus.

See ... by this time, news of the sickness of Jesus's good friend had spread to Jerusalem. And who, of course, had shown up to "comfort" the sisters?

You got it -- Jesus's enemies.

In John's Gospel, they're commonly referred to as, "The Jews." This was the coin phrase for the religious leaders of the day, the Pharisees.

We know at least one thing about Lazarus and his sisters. They were rich. How do we derive that? Because Lazarus was buried in a tomb, carved out of the side of a rock. Only wealthy people were buried in places like that, historians and archeologists tell us.

Now recently, historians have taken a bold step to voice yet another theory about Lazarus, Mary and Martha: They were from good stock. Super good stock.

In other words, their family was intricately linked to the religious leaders of Jerusalem. In the book, "The Mystery of the Beloved Disciple: New Evidence, Complete Answer" author Frederick Baltz asserts that Lazarus was "Eleazar son of Boethus, a former High Priest." Josephus names this same Eleazar. And, Rabbinic literature says that this Eleazar had two sisters: Martha and Miriam (another name used for Mary). The theory, then, is that Lazarus was not only seen as a pawn (being a good friend of Jesus) -- but he also was from the families of Israel's elite. Are you getting the full picture here?


Lazarus dies.

Jesus shows up.

And then ... all hell breaks loose.


Tune in for Part 5 of the story series, "Second-Guessing God's Goodness."

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Direct Disciple

Part 3 of the story series, "Second-Guessing God's Goodness ..."

You've known people like this. Maybe you're one of them. They're direct. They don't mince words. They call a situation the second they see it and give you a head-on, factual analysis of it, devoid of emotion. You ask them for advice, and they'll break down the picture in a very logical way, so that you can see your pros and cons and hang your feelings on the shelf to make a calculated decision.

Tom was that way.

Tom. No-nonsense Tom, who thought through everything and went with the straight-up facts.

Tom had another quality. He was intensely loyal. He took Jesus at His word, that if you loved someone, you'd be willing to lay your life down for them. That seemed to make sense to No-nonsense Tom. Back up your words with your actions. Be there for the dude. Set your face like flint and go with your loyalty, even if the facts show you that the situation is potentially dangerous.

Most people, when they think of Tom, remember him in an unflattering light. His unfortunate nickname has stuck to him like rubber cement for 2,000 years:

"Doubting Thomas."

That's another story.

But in this account of Lazarus's sickness and death, Tom is the one disciple who lays it on the line.

Jesus had just informed the group that Lazarus was dead, and that He was glad they weren't at Lazarus's bedside when the death occurred. But the death was necessary so that a greater purpose could be achieved.

All of this went over everyone's heads (of course). What the heck did Jesus mean, that a death could be a good thing? Where was God's goodness in all of that?

But even in the face of it, even as Jesus decided to go to Bethany into the lion's den of people who wanted to rip Him to pieces, Tom stepped up to the challenge.

I always see him in my mind's eye as a serious guy with a strong jaw and quiet but forceful voice when he uttered these words:

"Let us also go, that we may die with Him."

Poor Tom.

His heart was so right, in that he was willing to stay next to Jesus's side, even if it meant he could be stoned with Him.

But he missed the whole point.

Jesus wasn't in danger.

Not yet.

Jesus's time still hadn't come. And Tom would have a long way to go before he realized that after Jesus suffered the ultimate humiliation known to man, His death had a purpose that Tom could barely fathom.

We can learn a lot from Tom's words about this situation that Jesus was walking into and how people viewed it. The disciples had to figure He was nuts to head to Bethany, especially because Lazarus was beyond healing now.

For No-Nonsense Tom, the practicality and logic of Jesus's decision had to be driving him crazy with frustration.

And even so ... he was willing to stick to Jesus. If anyone was questioning God's goodness, it had to have been Tom. Why would God allow Jesus to make such a rash decision? Why would Jesus go along with it? He was needed to rescue Israel! He was the promised One! What in the world was going on in His mind?

Tom went along with it, despite how illogical it must have seemed to him.

No-nonsense Tom.

He and all of his no-nonsense were about to get knocked for a loop.

So was the entire nation of Israel.

What happens next? Tune in for part 4 of the story series, "Second-Guessing God's Goodness ..."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Dicey Drama Before Lazarus Got Sick

Part 2 of the story series, "Questioning God's Goodness ...."

When Mary and Martha sent Jesus the message that their brother was sick, they and everyone else knew the practical human reasons why Jesus might not show up.

It all had to do with a dicey little incident in Jerusalem ... at Hanukkah, or, as people called it, "The Feast of Dedication."

"It was winter," recalls John, the disciple Jesus loved. "Jesus was in the Temple Courts walking in Solomon's Colonnade."

What happened next must have shaken John and the rest of the disciples to the core. Things got absolutely violent. Yes, violent.

Violence, right there in the Temple, during the holiday of the Festival of Lights. Imagine it. John tells a chilling story of brutality that all started with one question: "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly."

Now read John's account of what happened ... see him in your mind's eye as if he's telling you the story over coffee at your kitchen table. He wrote it for you to get the full picture of what Jesus was facing. Two-thousand years later, his words still ring with a harbinger of dread that he and the other disciples must have felt acutely.

Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one."

Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods?”’If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” And in that place many believed in Jesus.

What in the world?

Stoning Jesus?

In the Temple Courts?

So of course, we see another reason behind the simplicity of Mary's and Martha's message, "Lord, the one you love is sick."

The girls knew full well that if Jesus put one toe into their neighborhood, people were waiting to pounce. They knew He' be risking His life to show up. Perhaps they felt it was enough to let Him know the circumstance. Perhaps they had enough faith that He could stay where He was, speak one word from where He was, and their brother would get better.

Or ... perhaps they had enough faith as well to know that if God protected Jesus from being stoned, it was a no-brainer that God would also envelope Him if He traveled to Lazarus's bedside.

The bottom line is, everyone in Israel by this time knew that Jesus was staying away from Jerusalem and the burbs around it, including Bethany, for good reason.

When He didn't show up, even though it was heartbreaking for the sisters, they had to have known the human logic of the why.

That said, if "the one you love is sick" then died, they must have faced the question that all of us do when bad things happen to us and to those we love:

"Why did God let this happen? Is God really good? Does God really love me?"

Tune in for part 3 of the story series.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Mystery of Lazarus

Part one of this story series, "Second-Guessing God's Goodness ..."

We don't know much about him.

We know he had two sisters.

We know he lived in a little town about two miles away from Jerusalem.

We know he was well-connected to Israel's leaders. (More on that later.)

We know he played host to Jesus and His disciples at his home.

But other than that ... there isn't much to go on about the man named Lazarus.

Except for one thing, and it actually holds the key to the entire mystery of who Lazarus was. It's just one line in John 11:3.

"Lord, the one you love is sick."

The one He loves.

Do you notice what's lacking in that statement? How about this?

"Lord, the one you love is sick, and we need you to heal him."

Or this?

"Lord, the one you love is sick, and we don't want him to die. It wouldn't be fair."

Or this?

"Lord, the one you love is sick. You've healed so many other people. He's your good friend. If anyone deserves to be healed more than anyone else, you know he does."

There's no expectation in that statement. It just is. It just hangs there, saying everything in seven words.

"Lord, the one you love is sick."

When you know someone well -- really well -- not much has to be said, does it? Ever visit someone in the hospital who you know well versus someone you don't know well at all? I have. There's a huge difference in the dynamic. When I don't know someone well, I find that a lot of words pass between people. A lot of explanation is given. A lot of pleasantries between family members occur. A lot of, "Thanks for coming," is offered, and a lot of polite nods and smiles are exchanged.

When I visit someone I know well -- a very good friend -- there isn't much of a need for any of that. The one I love is sick. Nothing else has to be said. The one I love is sick. I just am there. I just am present. I just am available, whether the family wants to talk, or the family wants to be silent. I am sensitive to whether the friend can take conversation or just needs a whispered prayer and then to be left quickly to rest. There is no pretense, no blustering, no overtures.

The one I love is sick. It's just enough for me to know it and be there with them.

"Lord, the one you love is sick."

When the sisters of Lazarus sent that message, they didn't need to say anything else. They and their brother were so close to Jesus -- so close -- that they knew He'd know what to do. They didn't demand anything. They didn't request anything. They just trusted Him with the information.

And in those seven words, we know more about Lazarus than any archaeological dig could tell us.

We know Jesus loved him, that they were very good friends. That alone should have set the stage for Jesus to rush to Lazarus's bedside, to comfort the women, to speak words of healing and make all right as rain again.

But it didn't happen.

Jesus stayed put, right where He was.

Lazarus died.

And to Mary and Martha, the silence must have been worse than their brother's death.

Jesus didn't respond.

Jesus didn't come to them.

The one Jesus loved had died.

And Jesus wasn't even there.

What would you have felt?

Tune in for part 2 of the story series, "Second-Guessing God's Goodness."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Second-Guessing God's Goodness

When I debated atheists on Twitter, I was always amazed at one thing they consistently did, usually without even realizing it:

Rather than address the question of the existence of God, instead they questioned His character.

In fact, it was so rare that someone would actually bring up God's existence, that I had to question the person to whom I was speaking about whether they actually were an atheist.

"God hates you," one would say.

"God isn't good. He's evil," another would chime.

"God doesn't care about me," would say a third.

On and on. And on.

I found that if I started using the phrases, "God is love," or, "God loves you," I'd receive a vitriol of anger-filled comments. People didn't get angry if I said I believed in God. But mention to them that God loved them? Wow. Get ready for the fight of your life.

I bring this up because I was reminded today about a story in which God's love was questioned -- even by those who were closest to Jesus.

So tune in tomorrow for the beginning of the new story series, "Second-Guessing God's Goodness." See you then.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

That Girl from Abu Ghraib

If I say to you, "You know! That girl from Abu Ghraib," would you see her face in your mind's eye?

Maybe you'd picture the sullen official Army photo, lifeless eyes, thin lips, full cheeks. Serious. Chilling.

Maybe you'd envision that horrific shot of a naked man curled up in a fetal position, his neck collared, his head turned away from the young woman holding a leash to which he is tethered.

Or, maybe you'd see in your mind's eye the photograph of a pyramid of stripped men, a girl standing behind them, giving a thumbs up to the camera with one arm, the other draped around another smiling prison guard.

But when someone says to me, "That girl from Abu Ghraib," I see the woman I ran into at the Womack Army Medical Center on Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in spring twilight of 2004.

She was pregnant.

When I was a military spouse at Fort Bragg, I used to joke that Womack was my second home. That's because I was there all of the time. I had a pretty bad pregnancy that required physician visits every one to two weeks. And for at least a year after Neil was born, I had to keep up with regular checkups for different reasons. During one of these visits, I'd been at the hospital for three hours for lab work and other tests. I had one more stop to make before I could go home -- my primary physician on the first floor.

It was 6 p.m.

The hospital was devoid of activity by now, as most people had completed their health visits. Those of us who were left were either inbound patients or people like me -- the problem cases requiring more attention.

I was sitting in an empty waiting room when she walked in. I was flipping through a magazine I'd brought along and instinctively looked up when I heard the door push open. The soldier was wearing a maternity uniform, and I just saw her back as she checked in at the counter. An older woman with her, obviously her mother, sat down opposite to me. We made eye contact and exchanged brief acknowledgement smiles.

Then the soldier turned to sit down, and I was immediately transfixed with recognition.

She didn't make eye contact. She sat down next to her mother, who whispered something, and then they both continued their conversation in hushed tones.

Have you ever thought to yourself, "What would I do if I ever met someone like Hitler on the street?" I think about things like that at times. I always thought I'd walk up to a person like that and give them a tongue lashing, then strike them as hard as I could. And yes, in my mind's eye, at the time I compared that young woman to the likes of Hitler or to his Nazi concentration camp guards.

But as I sat there, actually in that situation I'd imagined with history's criminals, I was amazed at the wash of emotions.

I felt sick.

I felt angry.

I felt afraid.

I felt revulsion.

I felt anxiety.

I felt condemnation.

Then I felt other things.

I felt pity.

I felt sadness.

I felt concern.

And, most surprisingly, I felt love.

No, I didn't feel love as you'd imagine, but a sense of God's love, tapping me on the shoulder with gentle persistence.

"I died for her, too, you know," I heard Him say to my heart. "I died for her, too."

The inward struggle to say something to her -- to tell her how her actions had shamed those of American patriots and our country -- to instruct her on human rights -- to be her moral superior -- was overwhelming.

And at the same time, I yearned to walk across the waiting room to her, sit next to her, introduce myself and ask her if I could pray with her.

I'd like to tell you that I did the latter.

But in the end ... the door to the examination rooms opened, and a nurse called my name.

The moment had passed. I walked through to see my doctor, and Spc. Lynndie England passed out of my life in that eye flick, without even a word or a smile between us.

I often think back to those few seconds, which felt like a lifetime. What was the proper response?

I can tell you what it would not have been -- it would not have involved my dream to slap her silly. But I also wonder, what would she have said or done if I'd told her I'd pray for her or that God loved her? Would she have listened? Would she have been appreciative or accepting of my words? Or would I have aggravated and come off as the Saturday Night Live Church Lady?

I took something out of that encounter, though, something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Jesus died for her, too.

He loves her, too.

And because we're all sinners, none of us have the right to condemn another person. We're all culpable for our own sins, public and hidden.

If I had to do it over again, I would have offered Lynndie my hand. She was obviously there for an appointment when no one else would be in the hospital. She was a pariah. And it looked to me that the only person who was her friend ... was her mother.

Who needs God's love more than someone like that?

So next time you give thought to the atrocities of the war, your political enemies, your nemesis at the office or your family member who drives you to drink ... remember Lynndie England.

She -- and they -- have God's grace if they want to ask for it.

And you do as well.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Becoming a Woman of Integrity

You may not know this about me, but I'm going through a divorce. I can't go into the reasons here, but suffice it to say, it has necessitated counseling every two weeks for me.

About a month ago, my counselor threw down the gauntlet and challenged me to be a woman of integrity.

I thought, "I'm already a woman of integrity."

But then I realized that integrity requires daily decisions. It isn't something where you can stand on your past laurels of moral high ground. It is a day-in, day-out, resilient and deliberate and conscious decision to stay above the fray of temptation.

And what is temptation?

For me, it has encompassed a few things:

1) Staying off of the social network Twitter. Believe it or not, I'm actually addicted to it like crack. But I had to realize that being on Twitter, for me, invites drama. Currently, my real life is so dramatic that I don't need anything else fueling adrenaline. It's time for me to rest, and it's time for me to step back. That said, to be a woman of integrity, I've set up parental blocks on my computer so that I can't even pull up the site without deliberately choosing.

2) Trusting God in the face of bleakness. I have another blog called, "Family Giving," in which I discuss being willing to give financially in spite of difficulty. But last week at church, I did not tithe. I was scared. I was facing an enormous hurdle in the coming week that I knew would decimate my financial future. So rather than trust God with my 10 percent, I clutched it. I allowed the offering plate to pass under my nose. To be a woman of integrity, I must trust God, even when I don't see the future. Especially when I don't see the future.

3) Staying single for the time being. My divorce probably will not be final until June, at the earliest. But already, I feel like I'd like to start dating again. I hear all of your collective groans right now. And that's exactly the point. To be a woman of integrity, I have to put my needs on a shelf. I have to focus on the well-being of my 7-year-old child and on his needs as he deals with the separation of his parents. I need to dig deep into my heart and mind and heal completely from several years of suffering. Even if I met someone for a cup of coffee, an emotional attachment could result. That would lead to a distraction from the matter at hand, which is healing fully and protecting my child. Will I ever heal? I'm sure I will, because I know I'm a very different person than I was this time last year. Some people might say, "Go for it! Have fun! You deserve it!" And that would be true, except that if I proceeded with dating right now, I would risk losing the richness of a meaningful relationship because I moved too quickly. It would be like settling for McDonald's one hour before sitting down to a meal at the Four Seasons. And not only that, doing so right now would just be morally wrong for me. So to be a woman of integrity, I have to say no, even to friendships with men to whom I am attracted. If it's God's will for me to find love again, I have to rest on Him for my best future.

You can see how being a woman of integrity for me isn't easy. Too many times, we'd love to take the smooth path and be happier in the short-term. But often, that results in decisions that compromise our very integrity.

But I can't become a woman of integrity on my own strength. That's where Jesus comes in. "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light," He tells us. Guess what. That applies to decisions that would affect our integrity.

So take His yoke upon you and lean into Him.

You can be a person of integrity. But trust Him for it.

The rest will fall into place.