Last night I made a kick-ass dinner, a pitcher of Mai Tai, and a carrot cake, and we had our friends Brian and Steph over. They used to live here, but they’ve since moved back to the states where Steph is finishing her medical residency and Bri is a missionary AND a stay-at-home Dad to their perfect baby doll of a daughter. They’re cool. And it was fun.
Stephanie and I were talking about parenting and doctoring and all that junk and I said something about how it must be so hard to do it all, working so much, and coming home to a five month old, and a husband and everything. And she started to agree, and then she stopped herself and said, “Well, actually, what we call “hard” is really just a whole lot of Blessing. I could totally use it as an excuse and say ‘Oh, my life’s so hard.’ But what exactly do I have to complain about - That I get to do these things? Be a Mom? Be a wife? Have a home to walk in to after a very long day of gratifying work?”. She said something like that. And I loved it.
And that made me think of the conversation going on here, and how a post about self-sabotage turned into a discussion in comments about sacrifice.
Sometimes I think about the sacrifices made so that we can be here, and it gives me a stomach ache. It’s gut wrenching. Not even kidding, it wrenches my guts.
I am not unaware of the fact that if I use a packet of Splenda in my coffee it’s because someone else, not a human resources department or a finance department, but a living breathing person, an individual with wants and needs of their own, that person has put that little yellow packet in my hand. I feel it every time I crack an egg, turn the ignition in my car, flip a light switch, or - ugh! - see my Visa statement. Sacrifice pays our bills. Sacrifice sends our kids to school. Sacrifice let’s us eat at McDonald’s, like normal people, every now and again. Sacrifice brings us back to the states, once a year, where we get to thank those who’ve sacrificed on our behalf. Sacrifice plops us down on the doorsteps of our parents, who have been called on, unwillingly, to sacrifice as well by saying goodbye to their children and grandchildren, losing them to a foreign land, a foreign life, and in some cases to a foreign God.
It all comes at a price. A great Sacrifice... or maybe it’s a Blessing.
I pray for those who make sacrifices on my behalf. I started doing this three years ago, when I was dreading asking for support. I didn’t want anyone who gave to us to feel like it was their burden, like their Christian duty or something, I wanted them to give because it was their Blessing to be able to do so.
I know it’s hard for you Dad. You too, Mom. And Pat and Steve. I know it’s hard. Even miserable sometimes. I know it just plain sucks.
I feel weighed down by it, too. The loss. The time that passes, the things missed because we are here and not there, with you. I feel the weight of your sacrifice, the burden that you carry, totally unwillingly, because we left. I am not unaware. So I pray for each of you, the same way I pray for others that sacrifice so that we can be here. I pray that it will be your Blessing.
I pray for you to see that your sacrifice has high value. I pray that when you see your grandchildren, albeit not as often as you or I would like, that you will see three young men who have grown in confidence, and maturity, who have learned to live outside of the grip of materialism, kids who have conquered language and culture, who have discovered that they have power in this world to do something. I pray that you will see boys who have learned the value of sacrifice because they themselves have been transformed by it, moved by it, Blessed by it. And that those things happened because we are here. I pray that it will be your Blessing to know that however far away we may be, your grandsons are living a life of adventure and challenge and becoming better men because of it.
I pray for you, Dad, that every time I walk away from you to board a plane, that you will see the sacrifices you made for me as a child, now all grown up. And that you get to see a woman who holds tight to what she thinks is important and has the guts to pursue it, even at a great price. And I pray that it will Bless your soul.
People always ask me if it’s hard to be a missionary - hard to leave your family, hard to leave the ease and comfort of the U.S., hard to learn a language when you’re clearly too old and too dumb, hard to raise support, hard to miss holidays, hard to live in a foreign country, hard to visit the states or hard come back to Costa Rica after visiting the states, hard to live without Poptarts...
“Is it hard?” they ask with empathetic eyes.
And the truth is, it’s not without it's difficulties, but it's really not hard. I get to do this. This is my Blessing.