As we enjoy the celebrations of the Easter season, I present part 2 on my reflections on sacrifice. In it, I explore the living out of sacrifice in my own life, as a father, a husband and a man.
During Lent, I reflected on the connection between Jesus’ sacrifice and how we might live that out in a selfless attitude towards our country, our community, and our family and friends. Striving for this ideal is a challenge. It is a real challenge to be consistently good at sacrificing our needs and wants for someone else’s, even for the people whom we love most dearly.
When I was living at home and going to school, my commitments were much less than they are today. I had a lot of independence. I did make little sacrifices of my time to help around the house, but the expectation was that I work hard in my studies and continue to conduct myself with an appropriate behaviour of love and respect towards my parents and sister. Even looking back on it, I can recognize how selfish I was…and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but there were certainly times I could have been more available and less focused on my self. I could have volunteered more in my community, spent more time travelling to visit family, been more available to my mom when my parents divorced.
Being less selfish is a challenge; embracing sacrifice, in small ways, is a challenge.
Fast forward to today. I am married and I have a 1 year old daughter. Daily life is significantly changed from my teens and early twenties. Now, I am presented with opportunities to sacrifice every day…and some days, every hour.
As a father, I make decisions to be less selfish every time my daughter needs something. Ignorance is not an option. I can’t let my daughter keep crying when she is hungry or needs a hug. She can’t do these things for herself. I have to respond in an appropriate manner and timeliness, no matter what else I might be doing. If I’m tired at the end of a workday, and my daughter wants to play, I must sacrifice my desire for rest and see her. That’s the example I want to be as a father. I may have time for what I want to do later, but even if I don’t, the sacrifice is to ensure my daughter feels loved and cared for. And there have been some major sacrifices in the amount of sleep I get. That’s no joke, folks. Enjoy your sleep while you have it!
In order to ensure my family is supported and that my amazing wife can work from home to care for our daughter, I work multiple jobs. Some weeks, I work 7-8 hours per day and have very little time for other things I enjoy. That’s a sacrifice of time and energy, which produces positive results for everyone. I’m happy to do it, but there are certainly days when I don’t exactly feel like it. That’s sacrifice.
Still, there are days when I don’t do a good job of being selfless. These decisions to focus on what I want to do, whether it’s to spend time watching TV, or going out with friends, or being out too often in the week, they affect my family. It’s important for my wife and I to spend time together, especially when the time we share is not as common as it was before having our daughter. Decisions I make not to spend time with my wife could leave her feeling lonely, abandoned and unaffirmed. Even though the sacrifice to spend time with one another is a good one, it still needs to be made.
We have discussed the importance of self-sacrifice for the good of our marriage and try hard to maintain that each day. We aren’t perfect at it but we are trying, and that effort is hugely important. Times we don’t pray together or talk together or just be together, doing things we enjoy, are noticed and we find ourselves lacking.
In our little ways, we have opportunities each day to think of others first for the betterment of their lives…and our lives. By making decisions to love and care for family and friends, we are participating in and living out Jesus’ words of laying down our lives for others. I suppose then the takeaway for this reflection is that sacrifice can be as intense as giving one’s life for love or peace, but, in my life, I haven’t reached a situation where that was needed. Instead, I try my best to sacrifice in little ways in my attempts to be the best man, husband and father I can.
My challenge to you is to do one thing each day where you put someone else’s needs before your own. If you already are doing this, find a way in which you can stretch yourself further, to be Christ-like in responding to the needs of family, friends, and community. Good things will come of it. Guaranteed.