The Integrated Life


First Focus

The Integrated Life

At some point along the Way, we recognize that our calendars and occupations try to compartmentalize our lives.

  • Sunday and Wednesday – church
  • Monday–Friday – work
  • Saturday – family

We’re taught to set strong boundaries, keep family away from work, and give ourselves time to relax. At times, there are good reasons for this rationale. Eventually, however, a compartmentalized mindset leads to fragmentation and damages our witness.

After a few years of trying to fit my life into several different boxes, I had to admit something. I could spend a lot of energy trying to keep everything separate, or I could admit I am just one person. I’m planted in one family, with a church, life, and home that run seamlessly together. Sometimes it’s crazy and unmanageable, but most of the time it’s a lot of fun to do life and share life with people all the time.

This past Saturday at Connections Weekend, Matt and Margaret Reynolds explored the power of the integrated life. It starts by sitting with the people you love the most, inviting them to share your mission for God, and then doing life together where you live, worship, and work. While the adults were learning the same concept, Kelly Shiell challenged our kids to Live Sent at home, school, and play. Kids seem to grasp this concept easier. They don’t manage calendars and jobs yet to segment them. Their parents schedule them, but they don’t. A few of them have “school friends” or “church friends,” but many of them integrate their relationships seamlessly.

When adults start the process, we discover this is really how Christ made us. We don’t have to go from one group to another playing different roles. We share the person Christ has made us to be as we travel down the many pathways of life. In Matthew 5-7, when Jesus sat with his disciples on a mountain to explain how to live as an obedient community, he gave them a vision of this life of integrity. This is how God created you—a person who can live the Way of Christ every place you go. It’s the blessed life built on the foundation of Christ.

As Mary Sarton writes, the goal is to become yourself:

Now I become myself. It’s taken
Time, many years and places….
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root….
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!