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The greatest virtue of all is ….

Okay, I’m not sure; but if we had to choose from life’s virtues, which would prove to be the most valuable?

I’m usually uncontrollably humorous in my posts. It’s generally something I can’t help; it’s a blessing and a curse. This week, I’ve been contemplative. What? (I’m sure it won’t last long.)

I’ve been coaching this amazing young woman and after nine months of tutelage, she is ready to fly the nest to pursue her dreams. She will succeed, of that I have no doubt. She is a deep thinker (a little too much so) and we began a conversation about which of the many virtues was more important for a happy successful life. Good question.

Obviously the top four virtues are faith, hope, charity and love. I’m thinking that perhaps I could survive in this world without love and faith and maybe make it through without charity. But I’m not at all convinced I could make it through the day without hope.

Where would we be if we couldn’t hold on to the hope that our marriage will get better, that our sickness will heal, that a job will be found or that a child will be safe?

Hope seems to stave away fear. Who doesn’t want less fear?

It’s strange to say that hope is so strong, but I think that it is. When it has been absent in my life I have felt helpless and drifting. Hope is the key to the knowledge that tomorrow just might be better. I definitely could not do without hope.

My gut response was Love. But love feels more like a grace to me, one I pray I will always be blessed to have. They say that love makes the world go around, but if that were true, our world wouldn’t be so ravaged by war and savagery. Love has its place but it is also fickle and does not share itself with everyone. I believe in love but I’m not sure I can depend on it.

Faith is known as the strongest of all virtues. I’m not sure we could be without faith if we tried. Whatever it is that you believe in; faith in your God, your spouse, your family, your parents, yourself,  it is all so deeply instilled in our inner being, as if it was given to us with our very soul.

Charity is touted as the most congenial of virtues. Not everyone possesses it. Too bad. I’m not talking about the kind of charity where we donate our money. I’m talking about the charity we live everyday by giving to our family, co-workers, friends, relatives. Charity is help; and it is part of our daily fiber to help those we care about, those we love and those who matter. A kind gesture, a reassuring word, a trust bestowed, it’s all charity. It is a blessed virtue but I doubt it is the most indispensable.

My answer is none of the above. For me the greatest virtue is purpose. Those times in my life when I lacked it, were probably the darkest times I’ve known. I am also happiest when I know exactly what my purpose is. I think that’s why we mothers have such a hard time when our children leave home. They were our purpose for so long and when they leave, we are left to flounder until we find another. When my 27 year marriage ended I no longer had the purpose of being a Mrs. Somebody.  And when my father died, my purpose of being a daughter vanished. Purpose has a lot of power and the lack of it can destroy us.

Trying to select a most valuable virtue is like trying to answer the question of which force of nature is more powerful; earth, wind, fire or water. I never could answer that one.

There are so many virtues to choose from; prudence, courage (one of my favs), temperance, fortitude, justice, and of course, grace. I’ve always wanted to think of myself as having grace. I’m still working on it.

With all the virtues at hand, I can only wonder why we don’t use more of them all the time. Life is hard and full of disappointments, setbacks and crossroads. Decisions every day call upon us to make them and our hesitation often comes from not possessing enough virtue to do so.

Life without virtue is a life less lived and far less worth. And so it is often asked: what will you do with this, your magnificently wonderful life?

I shout my answer: I’m giving it my best shot. I choose a life of virtue, the courage to stand by it, the kindness to share it and the daring to live it.

That’s my plan. Perhaps with a little grace a lot of courage, a dash of temperance and a good deal of prudence … I just might make it.

I have hope that I will.


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Kellie - Ms. Tammy

In times like these, I always fall back to my favorite poet Maya Angelou and one of her most famous quotes. “Now that I know better, I do better.” For me it works! Seems to cover all the above. 🙂 Great post.

Rick Gualtieri - Personally I’d vote for patience to be a top virtue. Especially in my house, with three young boys slowly destroying everything I own…yes definitely patience. 🙂

Joan Cooper - You did it again – Tammy. You distracted me from the humdrum world to higher things. You are certainly a profound thinker.

Love is a four letter word that means something different to everyone (almost) do not depend on it.

Faith is too much based on ‘don’t know, but anyway’.

Charity is at the top of my list. I just cannot stand people who are not generous. Everything in life is a loan. Share all you can.

I offer my epitaph – Keep a fire in your heart and a smile in your eyes.

Joan Cooper

Ande Lyons - Wow Tammy!

Thank you for this thought provoking blog post today. Like Joan, you brought me out of my TwitterVerse musings and into higher ground.

Is optimism a virtue? Because that’s my favorite buoy or flotation device. It keeps the smile on my face and the possibilities in my heart.

Optimists can be so annoying… and an enthusiastic optimist (waving here!) is the worst. But it sure is easier to grab love, faith, hope, charity, purpose and courage when you’re an optimist!



Tammy - Hi Kellie, who doesn’t love Maya?! Yes, that famous quote does work for all the virtues. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to have that kind of wisdom in our twenties? Yeah, that would have been very handy. Happy you enjoyed the read and so happy you stopped by and posted!

Tammy - Hi Rick, you made me laugh (again). Yes, I would guess that patience wasn’t a hard virtue to come up with in your household. I get it. Having only had one child, an angelic little girl, I can’t relate but I’ve heard stories. It’s all a labor of love and I’m thinking you are very blessed. As am I … for having you here. Thanks for the post, so happy you popped in.

Tammy - Hi Joan, I’m thinking you could start your own blog any day now. Your comment is poignant and oh so true; love does mean different things to different people. Therein lies the rub. I love your statement that everything in life is a loan. I never quite thought of it that way. You have distracted me from the humdrum world. Thanks for that. Love having you on the other side of my posts and appreciate so much that you stop in to share your thoughts. Thank you.

Tammy - Hi Ande, I know, you’re probably still in shock that I gave you a “thinker” today. Just one of the days where I’m pondering life’s mysteries and coming up empty handed … again. If optimism isn’t a virtue, it sure should be. There is pity little of it in our daily grind and we could all use a healthy dose. The world needs more optimism, of that I’m sure. I see you there, waving your hand. Keep it raised so we know who you are and so we can thank you for the lift. People don’t realize what a gift it is to be able to remain an optimist in these times of worry and trouble. Keep it up and spread it around, won’t you? Thank you, Pollyanna for being here and sharing your grace. You rock!

Dann - … great thoughts Tammy!

Love. Without it, the world would be total caos. We would have no respect for one another. No respect for anothers possessions. A world without love would quickly evolve into a world filled with hate, revenge, and regret. Love holds another in higher regard than ourselves. Love accepts. Love endures. Love forgives. Love gives. (For God so loved the world that he gave His only son, so that whom ever believed in Him, would have eternally life, and have it abundantly. -John 3:16)

Faith… belief without proof. Perhaps one could survive in this life without faith, but what about the next? What about eternity?

Hope… drives us toward Faith.

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor 13

Suerae Stein - Great thought-provoking post. It is a tough question, no doubt about it. And you always provide a “thinker” even if it is humorous. I guess for me you hit the nail on the head with purpose. I am struggling with the kids leaving the nest syndrome and what my real purpose is. But do we really have purpose if we don’t have love in our hearts? Or hope? Or faith? I think one always leads to another. Anyway, thank you once again for a great read! ~ Suerae

Scott Morgan - Mine is compassion. It’s what gives me purpose.

Tammy - Hi Scott, you and Mother Theresa (great answer)! That would make you one of the ‘good guys’, but I already knew that. Thanks for sharing, always wonderful having you here.

Tammy - Hi Suerae, interesting viewpoint and I suppose in many ways you are right; one does lead to another. At least in a perfect world, which I wish it were. I’ve learned that for me purpose gives me hope and helps me to love and faith stands alone for me. Great insight. Really. Thanks for being on the other end of my blog, it makes it so much better!

Tammy - Hi Dann, so happy to have you here. Oh my, you have shared a mouthful, thanks for that. Perhaps love is the greatest of all the virtues. In my life I’m not so sure. I am, however, very blessed and happy to have it and to give it. I am a lucky girl. All the virtues serve a purpose and I’m not at all certain we can be whole without all of them in our lives. I imagine that they take their turn ‘up at bat’ surfacing in greater strength when we need them. I’d like to think so. Thanks for sharing your sentiments and knowledge. To do so is a personal investment, and for that, I thank you.

Stephen C. Spencer (@PaulDMallory) - Well done, Tammy! As Sherlock Holmes said of Dr. Watson, I never get your limits. (Is it possible that you don’t have any??)

Not being a Bible scholar, I had to look this one up. (For those of you keeping score at home, it’s I Corinthians 13:13.) I was interested to find that in many translations, “charity” is given as “love.” Like you, I would have thought they were two distinct qualities.

Unlike you, I’m not brave enough to pick one virtue over another, though I certainly wouldn’t argue with your choice. By definition, virtues are all good things to have. I wish I possessed more of them, and I’m very often envious of those who do.

And that puts me on a different list altogether…but I’m working on it!

Tammy - Hi Stephen, well, I think we are both on that list together. Is it possible for good people to be without virtue? I don’t see how. So maybe I don’t live every virtue every day, I believe that they lie within me often unbeknown to me. If a diamond is covered by mud, it is still a brilliant stone underneath, right? You and I, my friend, are brilliant stones sometimes covered with a little bit of soot, but quality and shine none the less. That suits me just fine. Thanks for stopping by the neighborhood and sharing your thoughts. I adore your posts!

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