By Cameron Popik
A few days before the New Year, as my family gathered around my grandmother’s kitchen table for dinner, my uncle abruptly announced his New Year’s resolution; “This year, I hope to become a more grateful person.” And then went on to elaborate. Next, he asked all of us what our New Year’s resolutions would be.
The room fell silent.
I guess none of us had given it much thought, myself included. I immediately began to turn a little red; here I am the one in seminary formation, who advocates for “intentionality” and I had not even taken the time to think about a specific area I wanted to focus on for the year. I timidly ventured that I hoped to work on integrity and then briefly articulated what I meant. At this point, I had spent very little time with the idea so to say I “articulated” the concept I had in my head would be a severe exaggeration. Hopefully this, my latest rendition, is a little better.
The element of integrity which excites and challenges me so much is the idea that integrity is “the state of being whole and undivided.” The concept goes hand in hand with my seminary formation which focuses on forming the Four Pillars; Spiritual, Intellectual, Pastoral and Human. The goal is to balance the growth in these areas so that there is no hierarchy or inconsistency between them. In effect, they should be united so completely that they are simply four varying facets. An undivided mind, heart and soul will allow me to be the best version of myself; the happiest and most fulfilled.
An undivided self will allow me to be fully alive.
However, while I often think about and discuss integrity with my classmates, I often discover in myself inconsistencies which make me feel a little sheepish or guilty. I think these inconsistencies or divisions within me inhibit my ability to be fully happy and alive. One of the daily areas I notice this in is when I do not practice what I preach. For instance, I am notorious in my family for insisting we don’t give our parents ‘lip’ yet I’m probably the guiltiest of the lot. I also am constantly advocating for the transformative daily Holy Hour, which I completely fail at actually doing.
I hope to form integrity in the life-giving areas of my life as well. I spent most of my time in college with my faith locked inside my head. I was divided between embracing the culture and impressing people, compartmentalizing my faith. I was not in a “state of being whole and undivided”.
I did not feel alive.
Does this mean that I must choose between the spiritual life and my humanity? Absolutely not. My faith is at my core. One day I hope to have the integrity to say my faith permeates all areas of my life; that my whole self is undivided. The culture I am surrounded by is characterized by egotism and instant-gratification. It isn’t compatible with my divine soul which, in order to be fully alive, should be oriented toward others, not oriented inward to myself.
In the past, my Christian faith has remained in my head. In 2017 I hope to have the integrity for it to permeate my life. Putting one’s Christian faith into action is a personal decision. I cannot be fully alive and excited about something when my heart, mind and soul are divided between multiple things. If I want to be fully alive and fully human, I must strive for a state of being whole and undivided.
“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” James 1:23-25
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cameron is a second year pre-theologian at Saint Mary Seminary in Cleveland. He can be found on any given Saturday morning, coffee in hand, watching the English Premier League. When soccer is unavailable, Cameron enjoys spending time with his family, rooting for Cleveland and celebrating life. His short-term goals usually involve some kind of adventure. His long-term goal is an ongoing conversion to the cross.
"To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances; to seek Him the greatest adventure; to find Him the greatest achievement."