When I was ten or twelve years old I stepped on a bit of broken glass. It was a tiny shard, too small to see in amongst the beach sand, and it stuck in my heel. For decades, that tiny shard of glass stayed in my foot, occasionally moving near enough to the surface that I could feel it, but not close enough to erupt, and be taken out.
I would sometimes be walking along and suddenly feel a stabbing pain in my foot. I’d look, and sometimes I could feel a lump under the skin, but couldn’t see anything.
This occasional discomfort went on until I finally sterilized a scalpel and cut the bloody thing out. For a couple of days my foot hurt, but I healed up, and haven’t had the problem since.
I told this story to my kids as an example of taking the short term pain for long term relief.
Integrity is doing the right thing when no one’s looking and just because you can get away with something, just because no external force punishes you, doesn’t mean you haven’t harmed yourself.
We talk about mistakes of the past. Things we’ve done, or said, that we wish we could travel back in time and undo. How do we refer to them? As burdens, “the burdens of the past.”
All those negative feelings are literally weights we carry, and the only way to stop carrying them is to lay them down.
And the only way to prevent picking up new ones is to live a life of integrity.