Day 3: Integration is Freedom
Integration (an ‘integer’ is a whole number but can broaden to include something whole in itself) grants us a map for wholeness. It is a process, and the emerging result of a life lived openly before Jesus and His friends.
First, to integrate means to own the parts of our personhood that combine to make us beautifully, authentically human, and yet unique, unlike anyone else. That includes our spirituality, our emotions, and our gendered bodies, all of which contribute to our sexual wholeness.
Second, to integrate means to assemble these parts together into a cohesive whole—to recognize and embrace each part as non-negotiable, essential to the whole of one made in the image of God.
Thirdly, we exercise each part and keep it healthy and ordered toward the good of the whole. Such ‘exercise’ results in integration or wholeness.
Consider our spirituality. We learn to practice the Presence of the Father’s love revealed to us in Jesus. Scripture claims that ‘in Him all things hold together’ (Col. 1:17), including our very beings, in the process of integration. What we cannot do for our own wholeness, we know Jesus does on our behalf. Our integration is made possible by Love Himself who holds us together as we unite divided parts of ourselves.
Our emotions register responses to many things, both internal and external. They invite us to discern what the ‘feeling’ could mean, what is behind it. That matters so that we can learn how to best respond to our emotions, including winnowing real needs from mere sensations. It can also mean engaging feelings to enhance our experience of true and beautiful relationships, including with God.
Reconciliation to our bodies—both our biological gender and the unique way we ‘image’ our gender—is key to integration. Bodily self-acceptance is key to integration. Through the body we manifest our dignity as male or female, made in His image.
Integration of our emotions and bodies through the reconciling love of Jesus and friends contributes to whole sexuality. A whole person can steward his or her desires for human intimacy without denying them or reducing people to mere objects. Integration frees us to love others appropriately: body, soul, and spirit. Integration is freedom.
‘Jesus, rouse the gift we are. Help us to attend to the treasure you summon from the trash. Free us from our constant faultfinding and free us for vestiges of paradise in our memories and in our lives today. We refuse the liar who tries to rewrite Eden out of our histories. Unite us to the home of our original dignity.’
‘Jesus, have mercy on us as Your Church. We have abused weaker members, including children, and protected ourselves. We have violated the most vulnerable. In Your mercy, free us to superabound with justice. Grant us Kingdom discernment and courage to reform ourselves. May our repentance grant us Kingdom authority to strengthen the weak, discipline violators, and restore the violated.’