I am selfish. Who knew?!?! I always thought I was a pretty giving, serving person, generous in thought and deed. Then I got married. But that wasn't too bad b/c we both worked in separate worlds and he traveled 3 days a week so there was still a lot of room for me in that life. Then, I had a baby.
This adorable 8lb, 3oz bundle of baby girl perfection. Everyone was in heaven. Everyone, but me. Around the 3 week mark, I remember staring at this little baby burrito sleeping peacefully in her crib and thinking, "Oh dear God, what have we done? She is never going to leave. I am never going to be alone again. No sleeping in or eating or watching tv alone. No lazy afternoons or late nights on the town. My life is never going to be about me ever again."
And to be honest, that was a pretty accurate statement. Nothing has ever been the same and while I eventually grew into motherhood a bit more, the death of self was a painful and traumatic process for me. Once we had our second baby, Husband decided he needed to quit traveling so much, which sounds good in theory. But we spent the last 9 years doing life very separately so this newfound togetherness was a bit of a shock to both our systems. So much so that we decided we needed a professional to guide us thru the process.
We spent an entire session hashing out ways to integrate our lives better and what we would each have to give up to make that happen. Husband, the expert salesman, was in full on negotiation mode trying to broker a deal that he viewed as a win/win. After making little progress, he finally asked the therapist in an exasperated tone "Can't I have both?!?!" The answer was a simple "No. If it isn't a sacrifice, it isn't love." #micdrop
That's when it hit us both like a ton of bricks! We were both still trying to love the other person AND get our own way. But the reality is we can love the other person OR get our own way. You spell love s-a-c-r-i-f-i-c-e.
The Bible tells us that Jesus IS love and He is our example of what love looks like. And what a great example! Everything about His life was sacrifice. Even leaving the heavenly realms to be born as a baby was a sacrifice. And then to die a criminal's death while the sins of the world weighed heavily on His shoulders was the ultimate sacrifice for you and me. He spared NOTHING in His living or His dying for the sake of love.
Romans 8:32 says “He who did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all...”
Sacrifice. Unmerited sacrifice driven by love.
Walking thru this process in my marriage, I am beginning to see that really love doesn't exist outside of sacrifice. In every relationship, love always costs us something. It's great on the mornings when Husband can get his crossfit workout in and still help me with the kids' morning routine. But I feel LOVED on the rare occasions when he skips his workout to stay home and help me get the little munchers ready and out the door. Obviously I want him to be healthy and feel good, but some days I just need to know that I am more important than dead lifts and squat thrusts (or whatever those crazy crossfit people do in their "box" for an hour.)
I see it in my relationship with my kids, my parents, and my friends. To love them well, I must give up something. Time. Emotional energy. My own plans and desires. Now, don't get all crazy on me and cross the line into codependency. I'm just talking about understanding that it isn't love if it doesn't cost us anything. It's convenient, but it's not love.
If you and I were to sit down over a big glass of awesome, I would probably tell you that I think love is a bit of a big ol’ cosmic joke. The world tells us if we find the right one, fall in love and get married, we will be happy. Love will fill our cup and be the answer to our wildest dreams. But true love doesn’t make us happy; it makes us more like Jesus.
Love empties us of ourselves and forces us to put somebody else first. And you won’t find that on the Hallmark channel, people. But the bible is full of examples of people who died to self in order to love others well. It’s hard. It’s really hard. But we can do hard things. Some nights, we get to lay our head on the pillow and feel good about how well we loved that day. And others, we get to go to bed thankful that His mercies are new every morning.