Sometimes we lose touch with our virtue

Superman was the embodiment of the image of God. He stood for truth, justice and the American way. He played roles in cartoons, television and film (so very successful - our icon of a Super Power!). Superman had extraordinary gifts - great strength, the ability to fly and other super powers. In my research I found this statement describing him: “the ideal superior man of the future who could rise above conventional Christian morality to create and impose his own values, as described by Friedrich Nietzsche in The Spake Zarathustra (1883-5).” Who knew?

But Superman was not all “virtue” - he had his vulnerability. His was kryptonite. Kryptonite is a green crystal whose strange emission of radiation renders Superman weak and sick. Harmless in small doses to mere mortals, it was toxic to Superman.

If it is true that each of us is born with a particular virtue, than those that believe this also purport that we have our own unique kryptonite. When we lose touch with our virtue we freak out. Because we are created to live with the capacity for expressing this particular virtue that represents the character of God, when we lose touch with this “image of God bearing” self, we are in a state of discomfort. Our dis-ease forces us to try to soothe ourselves; we justify why we can let go of our divine call to show up and represent God; we choose instead to grab for something that makes us feel more comfortable and less vulnerable. This is the way kryptonite works on us - but in very particular ways. Our vulnerability is directly related to our particular virtue.

The way we justify? Through resentment, flattery, vanity, melancholy, stinginess, cowardice, planning, vengeance and indolence.

How these justifications manifest themselves? Through anger, pride, deceit, envy, avarice, fear, gluttony, lust and sloth.

To fully understand these vulnerabilities we would need to unpack them in detail. As best as you can tell from this inadequate description, what is your kryptonite?

What is your kryptonite?

Venture further with me into my imagination and what you might notice is the way I am thinking about how each of us shows up in our respective communities in this one particular “way” (virtue) AND when we all keep showing up, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Could this be true? I hope so.

It takes a bit of the weight off, right? When I am faced with the potential to “bear God’s image” - that is pretty overwhelming. But created to hold and carry and share one particular part of the image of God? That sounds awesome.

Additionally, it allows for the need for all of us to show up for community, which I happen to believe with all my heart. But do we have to show up and be all the parts of God? No way! That’s codependency run amok!

Again, I can breathe. Because it occurs to me that if I was created to bear one particular part of the overall image of God, maybe I am uniquely created to thrive in the bringing of this one true thing. But I am NOT responsible for bringing all things. Just one.

For example, I can bring the courage, but courage isn’t the only characteristic of God needed for any and every situation. Our community gathers once a month for a potluck dinner. We have stopped trying to keep lists and control the outcome. Some months we have mostly desserts (my favorite months), other times we make all the carnivores among us extremely happy as we have loads of meat but few veggies. Once a month a potluck is a fun adventure. But on a daily basis, I strive for more balance.

Daring to believe that we all have one primary virtue (don’t drag out the analogy too far, we can at various times be virtuous in other ways too) that our tribe desperately needs us to bring to the table helps me wake up to both my potential and my problems.

In a truly paradoxically and balanced fashion, it turns out that for every virtue, there is an equal and opposite temptation to be lacking in virtue. If my virtue is courage, then I am more prone than others to be plagued by cowardice. See how that works?

This self-awareness can be a huge motivator for further exploration. But for today - think about this: what is your virtue? What is your kryptonite?