How much is your integrity worth?


Wow. This is incredible. I am all emotional, and I am not even sure why. Well, I actually know why. I just didn’t expect it. It caught me totally off guard.


running marathonIt all started as quite a surprise, really. My wife and I like to listen to podcasts and Church talks and other recordings online. We actually have this little routine each night as we are drifting off to sleep and many mornings we find ourselves engrossed in a story as we are waking up and starting a new day.


So it was that I reached over to my nightstand this morning when I saw an interesting option on my phone. It read simply “StoryMic,” and out of interest, I clicked on the banner and started a trek that I never expected. Regular people like you and me began telling stories about their lives in little snippets: a young lady offering some help to a beggar, trimming an apple tree with a Sawzall, and learning lessons from a parent. Then there was this one about a mother who taught her son to always have integrity.


As I listened to these stories, my mind was flooded with memories of days gone by. I wondered what stories my heroes would tell. Then I wondered what experience I would contribute to StoryMic. I thought about the years when I was young, and my little league baseball glory days. Then the experience of my son giving me some counsel that I have never forgotten when he was just a small boy came to mind. I have posted that incident before, but I remember that story again and again.


Commitment involves responsibility, dedication, and persistence. We often learn it from our parents, work to emulate it in our own lives, and strive to teach it to our children.


I recall well many years ago when this same son wanted a pet. He was just six or seven at the time, but talked excitedly about his desire to get an animal to raise in our home. He wanted a turtle and talked excitedly about his chances of securing one. Maybe his excitement was partly because ‘Ninja Turtles’ was the fad of that day; maybe it was just boyhood enthusiasm. Whatever it was, it was real and intense.


Of course we had the father-to-son discussion—taking care of a pet means 1) responsibility, 2) commitment, and 3) dedication—but he assured me he was old enough and responsible enough to take on that responsibility. I thought a turtle couldn’t be that hard to look after and there are a lot of things he could be asking for that are much more intrusive, so I consented. Shortly thereafter, the day came to go to the pet store to look at the turtles. If you thought he was excited talking about the possibility of a turtle, you should have seen him the day we went to look at them. He got up early, put on his very best ‘Ninja Turtle’ t-shirt, and ran to the car. Luckily, the drive to the pet store was very short.


When we arrived, he could no longer contain his excitement and ran inside to inspect the offerings. There were snapping turtles, box turtles, and miniature green sea turtles. We found a darling little box turtle, and I thought, “How hard could it be?” Then I asked the pet store owner innocently how long one of these little turtles lives. “Approximately 150 years,” he said. And that was just the beginning of countless hours of fun we had with that little turtle. Sadly, it was later attacked by a neighbor’s dog. We held this tragedy in our hands (since its head and legs were all gone now) and prepared it for burial. I put the lifeless little pet in a shoe box casket and, after a day or two, began digging the hole in our yard for its burial. Then one of the children yelled the turtle was back…? What? That can’t be! As it turns out, the little fellow was so traumatized by the experience, he pulled into his shell for days before feeling confident enough to come out and show his face… And he did that for years in our home in Utah and, later, Washington. Eventually, that pet was given to another little boy who enjoyed it tremendously. That was more than a dozen years ago. I can only imagine the little turtle still bringing smiles to the faces of many other little children. Remember, that little turtle was expected to live for more than a century.


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And so many more stories: growing up in the city, reared on the farm, Harley Davidson bikers, and the 10,000-hour rule to become an expert. Those are all great experiences.


But the best story I know is all about my sweetheart. Instead of a mic, my stories are captured on the printed page. And they are not mine only. Experiences and anecdotes come from the lives of my family, friends, acquaintances, and all my heroes really.


They include stories of my mother’s dedication to integrity, my father—a man without guile—and, as you see, dozens more anecdotes about my personal heroes.


What I have found is that we are edified and strengthened by all these tender mercies of the Lord if we see them for what they are and appreciate and recognize them as blessings.


However we share our stories, goodness waits in the wings to shower us with miracles when we do.


I see it every day.



About Walter Penning
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.

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