Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Gift of Sacrifice

"No greater gift is there than that a man should give his life for another."  For some, sacrifice comes easily while others can barely pronounce the word. As a parent, I know about sacrifice.  I learned it from my parents as I looked back over the years.  There were times that we ate but they didn't.  There were Christmases that my sister and I had gifts we didn't appreciate while they had nothing.  I had what I needed for school while my dad skipped lunch.  Sacrifice.

Then it was my turn.  There were years we had forgone the exchange of gifts so that the kids would have the toys they wanted.  I’ve always had Char fix the kids' plates first and then ours so that the boys had enough food.  Of course, now the girls fix my plate first because teenagers can empty a fridge faster than politicians can lie.  Still, there were other things.  I went a year holding my glasses together with Super Glue to keep the kids in shoes and school activities.  I've gone months with holes in my shoes retaining water so the boys could have jeans.  It's what parents do.  We sacrifice.

It's what couples do, as well.  Time.  Energy.  You give because the other person needs.  You love and that makes their needs more important than yours.  It could be as simple as putting a book down so they can tell you about their day or watching While You Were Sleeping when you really wanted Lethal Weapons 3.  It could be climbing to the top of a lighthouse with wobbly knees, knowing you were about to fall to your death at any moment or wearing that outfit you hate but you know he loves.  It may mean putting up with that animal when you don't particularly want a pet.

It could mean tougher things, like putting up with in-laws that always treat you like dung or standing up and walking away because you're tired of seeing the one you love always taking the abuse.  It could mean moving across country because one of you took a better job or taking a lesser paying job because you don't want to uproot your family.  It could mean simply wearing a piece of jewelry because it means something to the other person.  Some friendships are sacrificed because of a lack of respect for boundaries or they just don't fit with the one you love.  Or it means tolerating that friend even though he always leaves your husband drunk and tracks in muddy feet because he also gives your husband joy.

I know some who have this gift in abundance.  I live with them.  They sacrifice for their family, giving of themselves even when at times it hurts like hell.  They sacrifice for their children, those at home and those trying to make it out on their own.  They sacrifice for their friends, giving of their home, time, and money.  They have this gift and they dig deep within themselves to share it and at times they cry the silent tears that come when those sacrifices cut deep, but they'll never show it.  Those who reap from this gift most times will never know the cost or the pain of heart that comes from the gift being practiced.  The kids won't understand until years later how much was given so that they could smile and satisfy their wants at the time.

I know because I dry those tears.

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