I walked out the door of Kondi Callanetics studio and quickly ran across the street towards my car, as if I was not tired enough from the HIIT class I was in the past hour.
“I am so sorry, officer, please don’t issue me a ticket. Pleaseeee. I just got off the class,” I utter these words as I spoke in my shortness of breath. Hopeful. Wishing that I do not have to pay for my mistake.
“I understand that, but I cannot do anything to help you now. I printed out the ticket already, and it is difficult for me to take it back,” the officer replied to me with quite a considerate tone.
“Please, I am really sorry. I didn’t know the class would end later than what I paid parking for.” And there, it hit me. So confidently and so casually I tried to get away from what I did. Let’s rewind back 76 minutes…
I parked my car right across the studio and paid an hour of parking, knowing that my class would not end till at least 5 PM. What are the odds the city law enforcement officer would drive by this area, I thought to myself. Strike one.
After I changed to my gym outfit and ready to hit the treadmills, out of the blue, I started imagining in my mind the possibility of me getting ticketed because I did not put an extra 50 cents into the meter. I literally laughed it off and ignored my very own conscience that is trying to rescue me. Whatevs, I’ll be out in an hour and it’s no biggie, I convinced myself. Strike two.
And well, you know how the story ended. But what surprised me was not the parking ticket that was issued to me, but more so the way I responded. I was surprised at myself for being so casual in looking for escape routes to run away from the consequences of my actions, even if it took sacrificing my own values and principles. That was when I know it was strike three.
This happened exactly one week ago. That short 16-minute period of time surely revealed something of my heart and my attitude. As I drove back home that evening, I reflected back on what happened and was rebuked in many different ways in how I go about life. It brought me down to a question I asked myself…
How much of self-integrity are you willing to give up solely for a temporary comfort?
At 3:50 PM last week, I made the choice to disobey the law, in which resulted in a consequence I had to take responsibility for. And at 5:06 PM that same day, I made the choice to violate my own principles, trying to achieve that so-called comfort. That 16 minutes definitely revealed more than just my choices in itself, and definitely more than just the violation in itself. That 16 minutes revealed how I tend to respond when I am faced with a choice – am I going to remain faithful even in the little things? Or maybe I should put it this way, am I going to remain faithful, especially in the little things? Am I willing to sacrifice what I could have learned for what is comfortable for me right here right now?
You may think I am exaggerating this one little thing way too much. But, it scares me. It really does. The fact that I was willing to make that choice when clearly I was faced in a situation in which I may get caught scares me. The fact that in life, I will encounter choices I have to make for myself, in which no one else in this world may ever find out. When that happen, would I, then, still be willing to give up my own integrity even when there is no one to ever discover what I did? That scares me.
Integrity is, by definition, the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. If I may add to it, even when no one is watching and only you alone who would know what you did. I want to run after that.
To say that this incident has taught me one valuable lesson could be an understatement. It has led me to reflect and ponder more on how I go about making decisions in life, and yes, it starts with the little insignificant things we often disregard. And just like how Luke puts it, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” Each single decision we make in life affect the next decision we are going to make in some extent. These effects can superimpose one another, and before we even realized it, they have grown to such significant heights we may not be able to handle anymore. If we constantly take lightly those little choices without giving them much thought, who knows, maybe the next thing we would be sacrificing is our very own self-worth in exchange for some sort of substance we don’t even want in the first place.
So, today, as I got out of my car and walk towards the parking meter outside of Kondi studio for my weekly HIIT class, I did put in a couple more coins. I remembered the night of Tuesday last week, I earnestly asked God to continue to mould my heart in ways I can never do to myself. I asked God to reveal more of my heart, both the good and the ugly, leaving me to a place of realization that I am so helpless on my own. And for Him to reveal more of who He is in my life, leaving me to a place of surrender in His sovereignty. Oh, God, please help guard my heart.
And well, in light of post-Thanksgiving weekend, I can sincerely say that I am thankful for the innumerable lessons I have learned throughout life, and more often than not, lessons learned in the hard way. I thank God He loved me that much that He will never let me remain where I am today, but to walk alongside me and lead me to where He wants me to be. And to you all readers out there, don’t let simple things come to pass just like that. It can be ‘interesting’ reflecting on the little things that happened here and there, maybe it’s just a missed bus to school, or maybe it’s the tone of your conversation with a friend. There is always something about anything in life. Keep learning daily. That short 16-minute period of time last week taught me a lesson about faithfulness in the simplest things in life, which led me to a lifetime pursuit of self-integrity. What are you learning today?
Continuing the thanksgiving vibes, Tim and I decided to give thanks for one thing every day for the next seven days. So, there you go. This is my day one of #7daysofthanksgiving. Feel free to join us in expressing our thankfulness!