Last fall, I was approached by a friend of Ed’s to write a piece on sacrifice.  A lot of thought went into the nature of true sacrifice and here is what I came up with – original published version can be found on page 23 of the Anglican Digest here.

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Sacrifice sounds so old school. What about me? My needs? My wants? What about what I deserve. According to magazines, commercials and popular mom blogs, to be a good mom and wife I need to take “me time” and make sure my needs are met. According to conservative Christianity, I should love God and my neighbor. Quite honestly, I agree with both statements. They are not mutually exclusive, it all comes down to attitude, application and implementation.

 

Sacrifice is a slippery slope. It is simple to sacrifice the last piece of cake, or cup of coffee, or to get out of bed in the middle of the night (again) to tend to the baby, who is crying (again). Having sacrificed, I find it all too easy to step a little heavier, to sigh like a jilted victorian heroine. I excel in grumpy, curmudgeonly sacrifice. I’d sarcastically say, “it’s a gift” but some might think I was serious.

 

Sacrifice is one of those little trick God set up for us (not that I really think that – or at least not most of the time); an opportunity to do the right thing, but all too often done with the wrong motivation or attitude; kind of like going to church and feeling superior to all the folks who “call themselves Christians” who couldn’t drag themselves there, too.

 

Being a Christian, wife and mother all involve some form of sacrifice. For some that is appealing, perhaps the first step on the stairway to martyrdom. I struggle. A lot. There are days I want to stay in bed rather than chase short people around to do chores, schoolwork, play nice, remember their manners, clean up their toys. Wifing is hard work too. I don’t always have a lot to give after wrangling kids all day. Then my husband gets home and wants to *gasp* talk to me, or worse, be intimate. The nerve. Don’t get me started on God. How can I be expected to reflect on God in all his glory when I rarely run to the bathroom without someone chasing me down? Church is certainly not a time to bask in His glory. Not while I’m playing wack-a-mole with four of the five kids wiggling, twitching and whispering in the pew next to me.

 

Seriously. There are days when I think the greatest sacrifice I make and my greatest triumph  is getting out of bed in the morning.

 

I’d be a much better Christian and it would be so much easier to worship, love and parent if life was peaceful. If my kids never yelled, my husband never needed, if God could just expect nothing more than my feet hitting the floor in the morning. Were that the case, I’d be an awesome Christian; a super sacrificer. Mostly because I wouldn’t have to do anything hard. I find living real life, with all its beauty and trials, very challenging. I am struggling through this life of an adult convert who feels slightly behind the Christianity learning curve; the life of a priest’s wife and mother to five, soon to be six kids.

 

But here is the rub, the deeper I fall into my faith the more I have realized how little choice we truly have, and how profoundly wonderful a gift sacrifice truly is. If I take the moment to consider what I believe to be my options, I most often “choose” what makes life easier or more convenient to me. If I take a moment to pray (while hiding furtively for a few silent minutes) there is a better chance that my actions will be more godly and my actions much less self-serving. Personal choice = walking from God; prayer = straight and narrow to God.

 

Sacrifice, true Christian sacrifice, is taking care of yourself as you care for your faith, your spouse and your children. When my two youngest come racing into to my room at the very unfriendly time of 6:15, my choice response is to hide under the pillows. My prayerful response is to be thankful for the blessing of being a Christian mother. I am thankful for the gift to witness their growth as Christians, to bear the cross that such an opportunity affords. The load can be heavy. I make jokes about how hard it can be, but the small, quiet sacrifices we make draw our hearts closer to God. So more often than I care to admit, sacrifice really does translate into “me time,” into taking care of myself because those sacrifices draw me closer to God and his Ideal of me that I constantly fall short of reaching. Iit’s just not as glamorous as a pedi and a latte. Both of which I quite enjoy!!

 

Sacrifice is God’s gift for willing growth of godliness or an opportunity to paint a worldly picture of belabored martyrdom. Everyday, my life as a christian, a wife and a mother provide me with ample opportunity to either choose the image of a modern day mother martyr or to joyfully embrace this life as a child of God, wife of a loving godly man and mother of (we hope) godly children. Embracing the sacrifices are hard, but we were promised the joy-filled, trial-laden cross in this life and eternal life through Him in the next – so I’ll take it!

 

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