When one of my children was very young, I won't say which to protect the guilty, he had a habit of trying to lie to me. The problem was, he wasn't very good at it. You could always tell when he was lying. I would talk to him about being honest and ruining my trust, but the truth was, I didn't worry much because he simply never could get away with it. So for several years he quit lying. If anyone told me he did something and he denied it, I trusted him because I had no reason not to.
Then came the day that I discovered he had lied about something and I had trusted him. My trust was shattered. I told him I couldn't trust him and had to verify everything he told me. After a while it became apparent that he was lying, and sneaking, much more than I thought. Every time I gave him a chance to regain my trust, he would ruin it by lying again.
I have really be struggling with this with him because I know that trustworthiness is a part of your integrity. Integrity isn't what you do, it is who you are. When you give people reason to doubt your word once or twice, they begin to question every thing you ever told them.
Have you ever had a friend who told you things about their past, then through the course of events in life, you discover that they are less then truthful or perhaps tend to shade events to protect themselves from looking bad? It makes you begin to look at and question the things they have already told you.
Let's look at a hypothetical, silly example. Let's pretend you have a friend named Sally. You get a new haircut and Sally says it's lovely. You go shopping with Sally and she tells you that the outfit you are trying on looks great on you. One day you overhear Sally telling a mutual friend how nice her rather gaudy and outlandish outfit looks. Slightly surprised, you ask her about it. Sally's response is that she just likes to make people feel good so even though she thinks it looks rather bad, she tells her it looks great to make her feel better.
Suddenly. you wonder about all those clothes she helped you choose. Every time you dress in that outfit, you worry that it really looks awful. Each and every thing she has told you becomes suspect. Does my new hair color really look natural? Does this shirt really look good with those pants? Does that skirt really make me look thinner? You find your desire to be with Sally has suddenly diminished. You no longer trust her and wonder what else she might me misleading you about.
Every time you sell out a small piece of yourself for gain, whether it be monetarily, for chocolate, for the admiration of a friend or whatever, you destroy a piece of your integrity. It becomes easier and easier to do until the day comes when you have no integrity at all. Once you begin crossing that line, you begin a long slippery ride without an emergency stop button.
Look into your heart and life today. Begin to pluck away those little areas in which you are untrustworthy or dishonest. Realize that there may well come a day when your heart will become known to the world and you really want that heart to be shown to be filled with integrity, not deceit and dishonor.