Facing My Faith, Faithing My Face #4

In which I ask for sacrifice.


I want to talk about sacrifice. It’s a crucial concept in many belief systems. Here are some definitions I’ve found.

Sacrifice

: the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone

: an act of killing a person or animal in a religious ceremony as an offering to please a god

: an offering made to a higher purpose, in particular divine beings, as an act of appeasing or worship

I don’t like the idea of sacrifice as a death to please god. It sounds wasteful and destructive. I prefer to see it as the death/end of something in a metaphorical sense – the giving up of an idea or a dream, of time, of strength – in order to achieve a (good) goal.

If I give something I want up to get something I want more, is it really a sacrifice?

I have learnt that making sacrifices can easily turn into feelings of resentment. When I do something for someone else, does it come with the expectation that they should make sacrifices for me? If it does, is my sacrifice worthwhile or of value? Am I sacrificing for something? When I choose to do something to help another person, that is a choice, not a sacrifice. I want to help them. It’s not giving up something I want. Are there other strings attached? Do I want recognition and love from them? Is it a bad thing to expect those things back?

Is making sacrifices abusive? It can be seen as manipulative, if the expectation is that we get something in return. Maybe if the sacrifice is unspoken, it is ok. Not unspoken and bottled up, but unspoken and silently acknowledged. When I moan about my sacrifices, people are driven away or sucked in. When I make an unspoken sacrifice, knowing that I cannot expect a return, something beautiful comes from nowhere.

Is this a form of dependency? I’d say yes, it is a form of dependency. An acknowledgement that we are all linked, we hold each other up. When we lean, we lean on each other. It is better for us all to stand upright, but human nature is that some of us are crawling and some falling. There’s no option but to support each other and watch over each other. We need each other.

Sacrifice can be seen positively, as a way of collaborating. We come together to share. We hand over control. I hope that instead of expecting a return for sacrifices I make, I can trust that they will happen, in their own time. I hope I learn to be more patient, to accept that understanding does not always happen, and that change comes at different times in different lives. I hope to let go of any resentment I have. I hope I can offer everything I have without hurting.

Here are some positive views of sacrifice.

“Life is a song – sing it. Life is a game – play it. Life is a challenge – meet it. Life is a dream – realise it. Life is a sacrifice – offer it.  Life is love – enjoy it.” – Sai Baba

“A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion.” – Mia Hamm

“True love is selfless. It is prepared to sacrifice.” – Sadhu Vaswani

“I guess that’s just part of loving people: You have to give things up. Sometimes you even have to give them up.” – Lauren Oliver

“Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you’re not really losing it. You’re just passing it on to someone else.” – Mitch Albom

“She taught me all about real sacrifice. That it should be done from love… That it should be done from necessity, not without exhausting all other options. That it should be done for people who need your strength because they don’t have enough of their own.” – Veronica Roth

“Real magic can never be made by offering someone else’s liver. You must tear out your own, and not expect to get it back.” – Peter S. Beagle

“Sometimes the prize is not worth the costs. The means by which we achieve victory are as important as the victory itself.” – Brandon Sanderson

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