Grace in Sacrifice

As a parent, there are a lot of opportunities to practice the art of sacrifice. The ability to make sacrifices occupies an interesting place in our society, as I see it at least. On one hand, we highly value sacrifice. Think of a person’s quest to lose weight, get in shape, train for a particular event, or prepare for a significant moment in life. We sacrifice time, pleasure and comfort for the sake of our goals. It is important to notice that all of these sacrifices are for our own purposes, our own desires.

Now see the other side of the coin. There are sacrifices not quite so highly valued, and are usually even harder to make. These sacrifices are the ones we make not for our own desires or our own good, but for the good of others. Parenthood is full of these kinds of unglamorous sacrifices. Getting up in the middle of the night because the baby is crying, listening to the same music over and over again at the request of your 3 year old, and today specifically, giving up free NFL football tickets because John is recovering from croup.

american-football-220047_640A unique opportunity came to Ben’s squadron and he is going to be able to be on the field, calling in and coordinating the fly-over for the national anthem. So cool. Roof access, great seats and field access for the fly-over. Incredible. Plus, free tickets for the guys on the field and the families of those actually flying the plane. And free parking. It’s so generous and it would be such a memorable experience for our family. And, I really, really, really wanted to go – it’s not even my team playing but still, come on. It was too good to pass up.

But John was sick. He was up at night coughing, ended up with croup, had to go to the doctor, the whole nine yards. Saturday he was starting to feel better, but definitely still wasn’t himself. Not well enough to go to church that evening, which we needed to do in order to make the Sunday game on time. My decision was made for me. The kids and I had to stay home. There was no other option.

Yet I tried to justify a way where we could go. He’s not so bad, he’s getting better. I’m sure he will be fine tomorrow. But it’s all false. All the mother in me knew what to do and what I need to do for the wellbeing of my child. And still the rest of me rebelled, trying to find a way to satisfy my desire to go to the game.

Into this dilemma, enter a reflection I read on baptismal promises. I am presently in the midst of retreat-like experience through an online group and the link above was for my reading for the day. It challenges us to consider the promises we made (or were made in our name if we were infants) and reflect on how we live them out in our day to day life. After spending some time with this reading, I posted this in our group discussion:

The baptismal promises are, for me, all about trust and the submission of ourselves to God and His will. So, by keeping humility in the forefront, modeling after Mary, I will be doing a greater job of living my baptismal promises.

Basically, the way I understand the challenge to live my baptismal promises is to cultivate a spirit of humility, which will lead me to better trust God and submit myself to His will. Which leads me back to my dilemma, which deep down I knew wasn’t truly a dilemma. I told Ben we weren’t going and that he should give the tickets away to other members of the squadron. That should be the end of my story. Though I made the right decision, my heart wasn’t in it. I had performed the right motions, but with the wrong attitude.

As the day went on, I recognized my inadequacy and slowly, let go of my disappointment, conforming my heart to match my actions.

One thing that this day highlighted is that God’s graces in our lives aren’t always found in smiling faces, in helpful friends or in loving moments. Sometimes, it’s found in disappointment, in frustration and in sacrifices. Regardless of where we find the grace, it is there to help us become more like Christ, both in action and in attitude.