Saturday, June 29, 2013

Suffering and Sacrifice

Suffering - the pain, misery, or loss experienced by a person who suffers
Sacrifice - the destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else
I got a book for my husband to review recently (the review will come sometime next week). I asked for a quick overview and he said, "wise words...'parenting is sacrifice'". It was funny for him to say, since last week my friend stood in the kitchen and said "I think I figured it out...this world is about suffering and sacrifice. We're not supposed to be completely happy here." Amen, sister.
I never cease being amazed at the workings of the Holy Spirit. They are all around, if you just look for them. The opportunities for suffering and sacrifice are even more abundant. As Catholic Christians, we should REJOICE in these opportunities.
OK, I know where you're going. "We should be happy - God made us and He made all things good." True. Absolutely. Exact. Spot on. However, there was that little thing about Adam, Eve, a serpent and a choice. After that, my friend, suffering and sacrifice became part of our everyday life. This, after all, is not heaven.

I have been astonished, lately, about how little suffering and sacrifice we want to endure as individuals. If, in fact, those opportunities lead to our sanctification, why would we want to see them only sparingly, if at all? Does it really make sense that we get to live easy here and still get to heaven? If so, why would Christ bothered to become one of us and die the way he did? Why didn't he just say "yeah, it's all good, I created you so do what you still get to live with me for eternity." Suffering and sacrifice draw us closer to him. What a blessing.

I'm really bad at suffering (have you been around me at all during any of my five pregnancies)? Lately, though, I'm trying to look for more opportunities. Surprisingly, they are abundant in my life! All I had to do was open myself beyond the "physical" suffering (although that is there too) and I have all sorts of stuff pop up:

 - being a mother of many small children
 - being an older mother
 - being a homeschooler
 - being introverted but choosing to do extroverted things
 - leading a group
 - being a practicing Catholic
 - get the idea.

The sacrifice thing has come only as a conscious effort over the last several years. Once, long ago, I had an acquaintance who said "You know, everything isn't always about you." Wow. Shockingly accurate and difficult to hear at that point in my life.  I think if we're the youngest, or the favorite, or the only child, sometimes it becomes part of us to think we're in charge of everything and the only opinion/timetable/agenda that matters is our own. Being self-less is one difficult thing to manage. We are built, from tiny babyhood, to put our needs first. Sometimes it's really hard to get past that stage.

I feel like, while there is always room for improvement, sacrifice is something that I'm grasping more and more. It pleases me greatly when I actually get it all together and "offer it up" while it's happening. "God, help me make a yummy dinner so the new mom has an enjoyable dinner and relaxes for five minutes." "God help me to be a good friend even though I feel like my head will soon explode." (all my friends can use that one!) "God, thank you for the blessing of these children. Please help me to have the patience I need to put their needs before mine." (Please, I beg you, don't go to the "but your needs come first". If you've had any children below the age of three, you know that's not at all true. Hopefully you've saved up a bunch of "me time" before the whole parenthood thing. It's pretty sparse after).

In the end, even though we are called to live in community, it is really between God and us. No one else lives your life and no one truly knows your motivation but you. The newest sacrifice I'm working on is giving the benefit of the doubt. I have no idea what anyone is dealing with, truthfully. Even what people say/post/blog isn't the whole and entire truth. It can't be. So, I'm trying to let go and let God sort it out. I'm kind of liking it because it gives me sooo many more people for whom to pray! As #1 would say, "I'll add you to my list."

Have a blessed day.



  1. ah, "me time": something I'm always wishing for more of, but end up just wasting whenever I get it. You're right, though. The kids' needs should come first.

  2. "I have no idea what anyone is dealing with, truthfully. Even what people say/post/blog isn't the whole and entire truth. It can't be. So, I'm trying to let go and let God sort it out."

    yep. this.
    I've been learning this in new ways this year :)

  3. I'm terrible with words sometimes, but I feel like you just said what I've been thinking a lot lately. I was just telling my spiritual director yesterday that I'm glad everything in my life isn't as smooth and free of trials and suffering, as I often wish it would be. Only in hindsight can I see what God was doing with me in those tough moments. She said that all of that endurance was "building mom muscles." Strength for enduring this life and getting closer to God. Anyway, thanks for this. I'm thankful for your example in motherhood and faith.

  4. my greatest struggle. using my sacrifices/struggles to make me holy. if only I could remember this better. And yes, we're all about comfort, but comfortable doesn't make us grow or makes us saints.