There are words that have gone out of style that we should bring back (my grandmother used to call hairdressers “beauty operators”). There are words that have gone out of style that we should leave alone (“slacks”). And then there are words that have gone out of style because we’ve forgotten what they mean (“bobbin”). There was a time when every woman knew what a bobbin was. Most of us don’t use them anymore – so most of us don’t really know what they are anymore. They are a memory, a fuzzy thought….
I would be overstating things to say that “sacrifice” has become for us a memory, a fuzzy thought. But its meaning – its real use – may be drifting. To sacrifice is not just to give up something. It is to give up something for the sake of something else. The “giving up” isn’t really the point. The “something else” is.
When we sacrifice – in a deliberate, meaningful and healthy way – we are re-organizing our priorities. We are re-ordering ourselves from within. We are recognizing what really matters. Our sacrifices – whether they are our Lenten observances, or small moments in our relationships, or gut-wrenching, life-changing acts of love – our sacrifices pay tribute to the “something else”, the “something” that is greater than ourselves. If we forget this, then the word does lose its meaning. It becomes about ourselves again – about what we’ve lost, what we’ve given up, and how that’s left us wounded. But when we willingly sacrifice for the sake of the other – then we have the privilege of being re-made ourselves, into something better than we were before. Emerging from a cocoon hurts. But the outcome is beautiful.