“Don’t judge someone just because they sin differently than you” – Unknown
There is some documented literature that says it takes about thirty days to break a habit, then I read from another source it could actually be anywhere from two weeks to six months, depending on the person, the actual habit and the sheer determination one has towards making the change. In other words, who really knows right?
Well I am obviously far from an expert on this topic, so as usual I will point to my own experiential evidence as my marker and proof. After all, “the proof is in the pudding” right? So for a moment embrace the idea that you are the pudding. We are our own proof no matter what statistics have to say about it, and the moment we relinquish all of our power, hopes and dreams to someone else’s concept of what we should be or will do, we really are in bigger trouble, but I digress.
So when I think about my vices versus my virtue, I consider my struggles and strongholds and being controlled by them, versus the journey required to step out of them or outright master the things (vices) that once knew my number. Before I go too far, I will give the official definition of both vice and virtue so we are on the same page.
Vice – A moral fault or failing; especially, immoral conduct or habit, as in the indulgence of degrading appetites; customary deviation in a single respect, or in general, from a right standard, implying a defect of natural character, or the result of training and habits; a harmful custom; immorality; depravity; wickedness.
Virtue – Excellence; value; merit; worth. Specifically, moral excellence; integrity of character; purity of soul; performance of duty.
After doing my own research and study of the two words, I would deduce it is safe to state that the words are contrary to one another or somewhat opposites, therefore getting through my vices to obtain my virtue is not necessarily my own personal statement, but it carries some truth to it.
In other posts I have discussed in more detail some of my vices and my personal journey towards wholeness, discovering truth, empowerment and understanding my worth. I suppose to some degree this plight to understand better, become whole and live honestly within myself first, will always have an element of “I am still getting there”. After many internal battles with this fact, I have finally come to the place of acceptance regarding this, however simultaneously it cannot become the reason or crutch I attempt to use to excuse poor judgment or justify living below the standard I want to have for myself.
Because I lived such a regimented lifestyle for the majority of my life, at times I still find it difficult to breathe, to let go and allow the grace of God to sufficiently bring me through my struggles. And then I hear someone say directly to me, (along with approximately two hundred other people) “You have to get through your vices to get to your virtue. The words deeply resonated with me and I found myself pondering what that actually looks in my life’s walk today.
What vices am I still struggling with and what specific journeys have those vices led me on to find my virtue? In other words, what am I specifically discovering about who I am as a man and the many roles I have as “he”? If we are not living in such a way, we are bound to live in a vicious cycle of defeat, endlessly questioning our worth, purpose and even our reason for being born.
I do not believe anyone wakes up and says, “I want to struggle today, let me go and find some trouble that is going to hurt me.” But if you look at someone’s life from the outside (without empathy) that seems as if they are constantly battling something, you may just think they have decided to live this way. I know the truth with at least the majority of people, they desire peace of mind, they desire a manifestation of their hopes and dreams and they desire to live a life that confirms their worth and their value.
So why does it seem so hard to obtain or keep at times? I cannot say that I have all the answers to this question, but I do know that a weakness or struggle signifies our humanity and when we spend more time denying that, we essentially deny something even greater about ourselves. Something that draws all mankind as one. It is the fact that we are all connected in some way, far beyond the color of our skin, geographic location and historic culture.
This is the reason I could travel to Alabama this past weekend to see my son in college and find myself in front of a man delivering a performance about a prolific historic figure and hone in when he spoke about vices and virtue. After all that he spoke on, it was that portion that struck me the deepest. Why? Because that is what I needed to pull from him, like the lady with the issue of blood in the Bible when she touched Jesus’ garment. In His own words, He claimed that virtue had went out of Him when she touched him. – Luke 8:46
Now I am not claiming this man was like Jesus, but I am saying his words penetrated to my spirit and left me feeling and believing with a strong “yes” in my heart. Yes I still have struggles and issues I deal with! Yes I still fail on some days more than I succeed! Yes I still make poor choices and sometimes allow my emotions to get the best of me! Yes I am far from perfect, even though on some days I may portray that I have it all together! However I know that I do not, but I realize this truth does not make me less of a human, but more of one.
I am greatly and unapologetically human. My flaws, my weaknesses and my struggles have made me who I am, because when I truly understand and accept their purposes in my life they point me in the direction of wholeness and my pursuit of that very wholeness is the journey that pushes me to that place. The place where I am getting past my vices to obtain my virtue.
So as I continue on with my journey, I pray that you continue on yours as well, and although we may look differently, have different vernaculars, think differently, and even have various shades of skin tones, always remember that our humanity connects us in a deeper way than we choose to give it credit.
You may never walk in my shoes of specific struggle, but you do certainly understand struggle, for it escapes no one. A different face may relegate a different approach, but it is still nonetheless struggle, and when we experience defeat I believe it somehow feels the same for us all, therefore walk in the strength and freedom that is yours to be beautifully human.
You will overcome this particular thing that you face as I have, and another “thing” will come to remind you and me that we are still human. Embrace it, not as defeat, but as an opportunity to grow and learn something new about yourself or someone else, and hopefully discover a part of the person you were meant to be.