Sealed With A Kiss - Ways In Which We Betray And Crucify Ourselves - Part 1 Of 2

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Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus' twelve apostles, sealed Jesus' fate with a kiss.
This infamous kiss betrayed Jesus to the high priests who wanted him crucified.
Pontius Pilot, the Roman governor, complied with their wishes and sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion.
His resurrection from the dead, his triumph over death, offers the hope of new life for all mankind.
Whether we realize it or not, we betray ourselves and bring about our own crucifixion by exercising virtues in unhealthy ways.
This probably isn't a message that most people want to hear.
For those who are open to hearing this message, the good news is: we can bring ourselves back to life by replacing our unhealthy ways of practicing virtues with healthy ways.
What are Virtues? In very basic terms, virtues are qualities, traits of character that have become a routine part of our lives.
They are values that have become ingrained habits for us.
In spiritual terms, virtues are God's inherent gift to each person.
Virtues are His way of helping us breathe new life into our beings.
This new life comes to us when we practice virtues in their true form.
What is the True Form of Virtues? Rather than viewing vice or sin as the opposite of virtue, I see everything that we think and do falling somewhere on the spectrum of virtue.
The spectrum consists of both healthy and unhealthy parts.
The healthy part is known as the mean.
The unhealthy parts are either extreme of a virtue: too little or too much.
For instance, too little courage would be cowardliness and too much courage would be brashness.
The true form of God's gift of virtues exists in their healthy means.
Either unhealthy extreme of a virtue is a distortion of its true meaning and power.
It is quite likely that most of us exercise virtues at both ends of the virtue spectrum.
For instance, you might remain overly calm (under react) when incidents happen at your workplace, yet display extreme agitation (overreact) when mishaps occur at home, or vice versa.
Have you ever wondered why you vacillate from one extreme to the other? Doing so keeps you balanced.
How Does Practicing Virtues in Unhealthy Ways Betray Us? Exercising virtues in an unhealthy manner is a betrayal of our true, authentic selves.
One of the meanings of the word betray given by The Oxford American Dictionary and Language Guide is: lead astray or into error.
Whenever we practice a virtue in a limiting or an excessive manner, we lead ourselves astray from living the abundant life God intended for us.
For example, limited ways of expressing the virtue of faith can prevent us from pursuing our dreams.
Common limited expressions of faith are: not believing in our own abilities or those of God and others to help us fulfill our dreams.
How Does Practicing Virtues in Unhealthy Ways Crucify Us? The word crucify also has several different meanings.
Besides meaning to be put to death on a cross, crucify also means to cause great pain or to persecute and torment according to the dictionary mentioned above.
We can cause ourselves great pain by practicing any virtue in an unhealthy way.
The further away from the healthy mean you exercise a virtue, the greater the pain and the destruction.
An illustration of the pain and destruction caused by virtues practiced in unhealthy ways is perfectionism.
It is the virtue of excellence practiced to an unhealthy extreme.
Perfectionism has the potential to suppress talent and kill dreams.
In doing so, perfectionism becomes the ultimate thief for it silently robs us of being the person God created us to be: successful, productive individuals filled with self-esteem, joy, satisfaction for a job well done.
An online brochure from The Counseling and Mental Health Center at The University of Texas at Austin gives the costs of perfectionism.
It says, "perfectionism takes a great toll.
Perfectionists are likely to experience decreased productivity, impaired health, troubled interpersonal relationships, and low self-esteem.
Perfectionists are vulnerable to: depression, performance anxiety, test anxiety, social anxiety, writer's block, obsessiveness, compulsiveness, suicidal thoughts, loneliness, impatience, frustration, and anger.
"(1) For more information about perfectionism and which virtues to exercise in healthy ways to overcome it, see the series of four EzineArticles I just completed ("Did the Grinch of Perfectionism Steal Your Christmas?"; "Love, An Antidote for Perfectionism"; "Reigning in Your Inner Gremlin of Perfectionism"; and " "Continuing to Reign in Your Inner Gremlin of Perfection").
God's Invitation The invitation God gives to each of us at this time of year, and throughout the year, is to die to our old self, our false self of unhealthy ways, and to be reborn into a new life of practicing virtues in a healthy manner.
Be receptive to this invitation by taking time to reflect on these two questions: o What virtue(s) am I practicing in an unhealthy manner that is leading me astray from living the abundant life that God intended for me to live? o What virtue practices of mine are tormenting me in some way? Once you have identified the virtue(s) that is leading you astray and causing you pain, resolve to start the journey of moving toward healthier ways of exercising it.
Empty yourself of unhealthy virtue practices, replace them with healthy ones, and be reborn.
Note 1.
The University of Texas at Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center.
2004 Perfectionism: A Double-edged Sword.
(accessed March 22, 2008) Copyright 2008 Rose A.
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