Every week I wrestle with what I could’ve or should’ve done better. In order to make up for my missteps I think I can sacrifice more time at work, less time with my family, and more coffees to those I “owe” for being a pain in the ass. Truth is I am looking at sacrifice all wrong.
Sacrifice is defined as giving up something important or valued for the sake of other considerations. Many of us attempt to be good people by giving up our time, money, and sanity to contribute to the common good. At all cost we etch away at the bank of what little we have left to put a dent into the driving purpose of what we call life.
This week I force the conversation not to be centered on what we collectively give or give up, but rather how we work to stay in alignment with who we are in the midst of adversity. In my opinion, sacrifice comes when we have to do what is uncomfortable to be our best selves for the purpose of serving others. It is when we are authentic and treat everyone as we would want to be treated.
Sure as an educator I can drone on about the time I have spent on lessons, family communication, and school improvement. I can harp on the money spent and the lack of income. I can yell about the terrible state of youth and how exhausting it is to manage on a daily basis. These hurdles are taxing and heavy, but if we focus on the details of what hinders us we will miss out on the practice that elevates us.
Sacrifice is a way of living. It is a practice of placing the considerations of others at the forefront of your thinking. This does not mean that we all must be doormats whose purpose is to only please others. It means that we must consider how our actions and inactions impact those around us. It means that we must consider the perspective of others to demonstrate empathy and grace. Sacrifice does not just call on us to be “nice”. It calls on us to take responsibility for what the moment requires, no matter how challenging. We must be big in small moments.
Sacrifice is knowing that your burdens will be heavy, but critical in becoming who you are meant to be. It is appreciating the muscle that comes from holding up others and at times having to take the hard route alone. It is calling on all of us to do what is right when no one is looking.
In order to sacrifice, we must avoid the instant gratification of harmful assumptions and treatment of others. We must resist the temptation of dwelling in a place of complaints and inaction. We must seek to uplift without the deep desire to blame and punish.
Sacrifice is giving love even when you feel it may not be deserved. It is knowing that in every moment you experience someone at their worst you see a piece of your own humanity and faults; for at any time we can be the subject of judgment and ridicule. It is the practice of leaving your ego at the door and living for the purpose not the person. It is not easy and is a virtue requiring a lifetime of practice.
This week I call on all of us to stop fretting over the “things” we should be “giving” and start focusing on what really matters: offering grace, love, and acceptance to those who need it most. We must quiet the part of our brain that calls on us to feel better than the person next to us and simply accept people for where they are on their journey. We must live life to be a testament to love, not to be a hollow pillar of perfection that does not exist.
Give of yourself and you will find that in return you will be granted invaluable completeness.