Vices, virtues and sins

Kincavel Krosses “wrath” cross stitch

While we are on the subject of religion I wanted to share a word on sin. (And as long as we are discussing Christianity, let’s talk sin in terms of those “most deadly” seven: wrath, gluttony, envy, greed, pride, sloth, lust.)

With regard to these sins (and sin in general): I think everyone has a “favorite.”

Of the seven deadly ones, my most frequently abused is “wrath.” It is my personal “favorite.” (John’s is “gluttony” – homeboy loves a good glass bottle of wine and slice of entire pizza. The kid’s is “sloth” – his weekends are “best” spent sleeping.) Even the most virtuous among us have one area where they might be a little “softer” – my saint of a grandma, who passed away last fall, grew up on a farm and served wonderful home-cooking, much of it rooted in her German cookbooks, for most of her life. She always praised us grandchildren for being “good eaters;” for “not wasting” and for “cleaning our plate.” You can likely guess what her “soft spot,” was.

And, more likely than not, even you have one, too.

People often try to do away with their vice or subdue it. And while this is good practice – we should strive to go through life without being jerks and without wasting away entirely – I think part of us will always prefer one over all others. We can strengthen an area, but we will always sway one direction over the other six – particularly in times of stress – and that one will most likely always feel better – more pleasurable – than the rest.

Let’s say you’re in a bad mood. You just got in a fight with your significant other or your boss threw you under the bus in a big meeting. What is your first reaction? Or, perhaps better: what do you turn to at the end of the day? Do you reach for some macaroni and cheese or pour yourself a drink? Do you curl up on the couch and watch TV for 4 hours? Do you go spend 2 hours at the gym to sweat out your stress in front of the mirror? Maybe you give that new speed-dial hottie a call? (Gluttony, sloth, pride, lust, respectively.)

When I am in a bad mood or feel like letting off some steam, I am quick to anger. It is the first thing I turn to, and it is my favorite and “most effective” way of soothing frayed edges. I’ll clip off a comeback, if I can, right there in the moment. Or I’ll later fury-type a wrathful rant blog post and hit “publish” with hot, hot, heated resolve. At my worst, I’m sarcastic and critical; outspoken and defiant. At my best, I am… “witty.”

And of course I can reel it in and work on it. (I often am.)

You can balance out a vice with a virtue, since each sin has a corresponding one (which I only just recently learned about, while confirming the seven.) They are: chastity (lust), temperance (gluttony), charity (greed), diligence (sloth), patience (wrath), kindness (envy) and humility (pride.)

Or you can pursue another area entirely and try to divert your attention to a completely different outlet.

But even if you do focus on the upside (like charity work or patience) or if you distract yourself with something else (like working out or hooking up eating healthy), the favored vice will likely always feel nicest. (You can quit smoking, but maybe you dig into junk food… and the cookies will never taste as good as the cigarettes; if they did, you would’ve chosen them from the start. Same goes for instead eating less and working out more; the joy of eyeng your hot bod in the mirror may never quite outdo the joy of another slice of cake… Or maybe you get so caught up in bettering yourself that you push yourself into “prideful” – and it’s not that fun.)

At the end of the day, we all have a favorite. And it will likely, on some level, always hold that highest place in our hearts.

So: there’s no self-help advice here and I won’t end by offering a solution. If you’re vain or lazy or condescending, like me, I say go right on with your bad self!

Just kidding. Sort of.

But, seriously. It’s okay. We all have a weakness.

(If you really do want some ideas on how to handle sin, I know some folks who can probably get you started.)

If not, it’s really okay.

And for fun… if you are wondering what your “favorite” vice is (you proud little peacock, you) but don’t want to spend too much time being introspective today (lazy bum), here’s a handy quiz to help you out: How Sinful Are You? It’ll give you a percentage of each one; it is entirely unscientific and probably inaccurate.

And if you like the image at the top, if comes from Kincavel Krosses cross-stitch and blackword design. She does all seven. They make great gifts. Or so I would imagine.


One comment

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