The Missing I App – Integrity

i AppI attended a funeral recently and noted a couple of things that seem routine at such events but had me thinking (nothing new here!) – For instance:

  1. As I listened to several people speak about the deceased person’s life, I wondered what happens at people like Bernie Madoff’s or any other criminal’s funeral. Do people ignore the elephant in the room and speak of how wondrous their life was or do they just not say anything? Or perhaps they only let people who are going to say something positive get to the pulpit… Do people really grieve the loss of a soul or are they thanking heaven that someone “corrupt” is no longer on this planet?
  2. Most people wear black – it symbolizes mourning, supposedly. So what if the deceased person loved Bright Orange and I showed up wearing that color? Would I now have the Scarlet Letter adding to my colorful attire?

If you and your family escaped the “I” world this Christmas, you’re part of the distinguished minority that didn’t succumb to the extremely hyped yet very effective marketing strategy of Apple Inc. For all the talk about the economy taking its toll on us, we still manage to stand in long queues to buy these expensive gadgets that purportedly make our life easier. These tell a story of our savvy technology skills and our ability to keep up with the Joneses in terms of material prowess. Not owning an “I” something or other, renders you a “nobody”, at least in the eyes of your peers in middle or high school or even college. Yet with all the Apps readily available to download, I believe the one that could actually make a DIFFERENCE in our lives is still glaringly missing – Integrity.

Whether it’s singing people’s praises on a pulpit or wearing just the right color to an event, we find ourselves doing the supposed “right thing”. Everything is showcased in a way that conforms to the acceptable expectation. No one wants to upset the applecart (pardon the pun) and go where the truth may beckon. We are a society that is so caught up with what looks and sounds right that we do not care any more about whether it IS right or whether WE are right. Our focus and goal has become impressing those around us, scoring Brownie points and seeking notoriety or some other tangible “reward”. A la the Pharisee’s syndrome, we do or don’t do something because someone is watching or we have something to gain. We say the all right words even make promises without having any intention or desire to live up to them. Gone are the days when a person was “good for their word” or where one could actually conduct business “on a handshake”. We may ask “how are you”; but walk away without awaiting the answer. When we say “I’m going to call you or email you or do something for you” we are really just making “small talk”. A priest friend of mine posted this on facebook this week: “The biggest coward is the man who awakens a woman’s love with no intention of loving her”. (Applies to women too, of course) Bottom line – we lack Integrity. What’s worse, we EXPECT everyone to be accepting of this standard. We actually become irate if they do not buy into our excuses and there are ALWAYS those! It’s THEIR fault because THEY just don’t understand!!

After my last two, more controversial than usual articles, my daughter asked me “Mummy, why don’t you write NICE articles? You know – that people LOVE to read and won’t debate and those that make everyone just LOVE you?” I mulled over her request and decided I’d rather eat dirt! (Steel Magnolias – anyone?) Conforming to be liked or accepted, while admittedly easier to cope with, just doesn’t come easy to me.

Wondering if I have Integrity, I ask myself the following questions:

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Marisa Pereira


Marisa Pereira is a mother, fashion designer, currently runs a Design and Image Consulting business in Atlanta, GA, is a freelance writer and volunteers at her church and in the community. She holds a BA in Fashion Design and a BA in French with a minor in Psychology and has worked in the Fashion Industry for over twenty years. Frustrated at her inability to find appropriate church clothes for her 14 year old daughter, she heeded God’s call, and created the stylish but modest, Michaela-Noel clothing collection, now available on-line. Having lived in multiple countries, she is acutely aware of the emphasis cultures place on visual appeal. She analyzes the importance of presenting the best image of ourselves and passionately insists that it starts within. She regularly addresses adult and youth audiences – encouraging and teaching them to make a memorable first impact but more importantly - to create a lasting impression. Her websites are: and

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  • Anonymous

    Please don’t write anything “nice”! I enjoy your articles and find them thought-provoking. Thank you.

  • farrell

    At the end of the day it takes an act of the will to behave with integrity. This may be old fasioned and a little less common than it once was but it is true nonetheless. Thanks for the reninder.

  • Logan Elizabeth

    You are awesome. Amazingly, i just had the same conversation with my 19 year old who is going away to college. I never use the word integrity, but thanks for the reminder. I asked his new Residence Adviser about his new dorm roomies. He said they are nice guys. And I turn around later and said do you think he said that because that’s what you wanted to hear or being truthful…. Lately, I feel as though the world has lost their integrity, all for appearances sake. Thanks for making me think about different resolutions for the upcoming year that are more thought provoking.

  • Joe

    I think the problem of our age boils down to two words: relationship and rule.

    I’d like to invite you, dear reader, to go re-read the Genesis account of the creation of humanity and the fall.

    In these accounts we see the dawn of spirituality and religion; spirituality because God is personal and we are personal…. spirituality is thus any “interpersonal relationship”…. and religion, because any interpersonal relationship will have its own rhythm, routine and…rules. Think about our own social conventions – no one forces us by law and yet every year we all buy flowers and cards for our Moms’ for Mother’s day. It’s an unwritten convention that supports our relationship with our moms…. “religion” is no different – it either builds up our relationship with the Divine and each other or we lose the forest for the trees and disintegrate in all our relationships.

    The danger is de-personalization and de-contextualization: to stop treating God as a person and stop treating other human beings as persons…..and to willfully turn our backs on the ‘context’ that interpersonal relations imply.

    Take Eve….she knew God. She knew God had expectations, ‘rules’. But then she developed a new relationship with a new and strange creature. The talked with each other. A dialogue was set up. At first she bore witness to her relationship with God and the rules: they were allowed to eat of ALL the trees in the garden (including the tree of life!) but not the one in the middle….. and then she listened when told by this creature to doubt God….to turn from her relationship and rule with Him and instead just focus on the fruit itself and what good it might bring her not in light of God or all the garden or all her duties but just de-contextualized, one on one.

    So she ate and Adam ate (which means he was a mute witness to all this drama) and then their eyes were opened – they remembered “the context” and their prior relationship and the rules all such relationships imply and they hid.

    Genesis is a poetic description of the same phenomenon of temptation and sin that we all experience if we care to ever analyse ourselves and our motives and emotions from A to Z…

    There is always a period of distraction….we wander away from our conscious allegiance and relationship with God or others….we get distracted by things – harmless but distracting things…. thus the cloud of witnesses, God, angels, saints, loved ones, etc. vanish in the fog and we’re left with ourselves, the world, the flesh and the devil…..

    And then – according to our own vices and proclivities, we stray into a new dialogue, a new ‘relationship’ with a single thing that is held up to us – in an occasion of sin – to consider as a good thing for us… and the knife edge of decision is upon us: absent witnesses, absent the conscious presence of God, other people, other values….just us and the desired ‘good’…. what will we choose?

    Because if God were present then no creature could be preferable to him. If he hides or we turn from Him then it’s not so easy. It’s a real testing of loyalty, faith, confidence, hope that in delaying our gratification we will reap better goods…. that if we forego the instant pleasure by letting the seed in hand ‘die in the furrow’ it will sprout up 100 fold tomorrow….

    So the trick is to remain in God’s presence – either directly or with his friends, the angels and saints – so as to remain in his love…. remain contextualized and in that relationship and so become ever more identified with these good and beautiful persons that we’re less and less tempted to abandon them for trifles or temptations.

    We need to cultivate occasions of grace! To “pray always including with psalms and hymns”…. to gather in community of likeminded saints who can encourage us, support us on the journey….

    Because the answer to the question “who are you?” always implies relationships. Our “who-ness” necessarily involves with whom we are related and in relation with…. Our names themselves connect us with other people do they not? And our self-understanding, self-worth, self-concept – all involves allegiances and loyalties to other people do they not?

    So by cultivating and remaining “in relationship” and in context with God and his Kingdom we become more known and more identified with the King…. who will thus not one day say those awful words ‘away from me, you evil-doers for I do not know you”…

    Merely going through some motions (rules) without a relationship with the rule-maker is not enough. Heaven is not a de-personal place, it’s a state of being in love with God (and all his other friends).

    Conclusion…. life is always inter-personal…. and conscious life always involves some form of relationship, some form of spirituality -which always leads to religion as rules, routine and rhythm, providing a context for our choices and actions and decisions….and these sovereign actions of our free volition either build up our identification with these others or dissolves these ties…. thus we are always becoming either more like God or less like God….becoming more identified with Being Himself or less and less ‘real’….either more alive or less.

  • Marisa, please continue writing controversial articles. It’s these that tickle the mind and stir the heart. Politically correct articles may make you feel good for a nanosecond and then you forget what you read. But controversial articles make us carry our monkeys lot longer.

  • JMC

    Sometimes “what’s expected” can get so incredibly out of control, it isn’t funny. I spent six years in the military, where I learned, as “everybody knows” – at least they did, once – that a uniform is proper attire for ANY occasion, from casual to full formal. Yet my family objected when I wore my uniform to my father’s funeral. (They always objected whenever they saw me in uniform, and I never did figure out why – they’re not liberals or anti-military; in fact, my father was bitterly disappointed because of his own 4F rating – for those too young to remember the draft, 4F meant you didn’t meet the physical and health standards to join the military. He dearly wanted a career in the Air Force, and his health denied that to him. It was for him I wore that uniform to his funeral, and it was for him that I refused to bow down and wear something black instead. That was thiry years ago. To this day, the remainder of my family isn’t talking to me.
    I could go into a long list of why I think they didn’t like me to wear my uniform, but that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax.

  • JMC

    Oh, how right you are – and it’s not a new phenomenon to the current generation. Forty years ago, I was driving my younger brother somewhere and had to stop to get gas. The attendant handed the change to him; we were two blocks away when my brother reported to me that the guy had given us a couple of bucks too much in change. I turned around and went back to give it back; my brother was so embarrassed by this (?!) that he got out of the car and walked home. Similarly, clerks in stores were always utterly shocked when I pointed out errors to them…errors that would have resulted in a profit to me.
    Sometimes I just don’t understand people.

  • Victoria

    Thank you for this article. I have been noticing lately that many people don’t keep their promises when they’ve agreed to do something, and it has made me loosen up on how I behave. (Why not, no one else keeps their word?) Your article has pulled me back to my standards; can’t thank you enough.