To forfeit one thing for another thing considered of greater value.
My husband and I talk regularly about different topics and recently we got into a discussion about sacrifice. About how something has to be sacrificed to achieve something better. The sacrifice of Jesus allowed us to be redeemed. We thought about the sacrificial system in the Old Testament. Sacrifices we make everyday for our families – to make more money to live a better life. Couples make sacrifices of their time together to gain financial and corporate success.
It sort of reminded me of Mary and Martha, friends of Jesus and sister of Lazarus. On one particular day they were hosting Jesus for dinner. Mary was found at the foot of Jesus drinking in all the spiritual knowledge that poured from him. Martha however, was found busy supervising the hospitality of the home. She was ever active and impulsive. Both were sacrificing. Mary sacrificed service for knowledge. Martha sacrificed knowledge for service. Both were noble sacrifices, but Mary’s was the better sacrifice for the moment. Martha had allowed her outward activities to hinder her spiritually. She had lost herself to the cares of this world. She had forgotten what was ultimately important – connecting to her own spirit-self and connecting to others.
For the first time in a long, long time, my husband and I spent a lazy holiday-weekend Friday morning lying around, talking, playing, joking, and laughing. We’ve heard all the talk – couples need to find the time to connect to each other, to find the fun. But get real, how often does THAT happen?? That day I put Martha outside the room and let Mary come alive in me. My normal practice is to rise early (even on weekends) to accomplish my list of “to do’s” – writing, grocery shopping, checking my emails, cleaning, and laundry – all this before we’re off to our granddaughter’s Saturday basketball game, meeting with family or friends, running errands, etc., etc. But for one morning I sacrificed it all just to spend time receiving and giving attention. We got to know each other again that morning. We had fun. For the first time in a long time I saw him. We connected. I fell in love with him all over again.
Since then I’m challenged daily to stop and see people instead of the things I have to get done. Of course, I do get focused enough to accomplish what I have to accomplish – I DO have bills to pay! – but I stop more often now to see. Not to embrace my opinion of another, but to actually see them. To revel and enjoy them. To be open to who they are and what they are reflecting. To acknowledge their hurts, their struggles, their pain and fears. To empathize with them. To connect with them on a heart-level.
I saw my granddaughter today. At 8-years-old, she is open of spirit and shares the latest cheer she learned from Cheerleading class. As she dances around in perfect precision, I am captivated by her spirit, her beautiful cocoa-colored skin, and her heart-melting smile. I have purposely sacrificed homework, housework, and time to connect to this beautiful soul before me. My heart is overflowing with thankfulness for her presence and just her being.
It’s been about a week now, and I continue to practice seeing people. I sacrifice my perfectly ordered and clean house to engage people. The undone laundry built up so much that we had to go to the laundry-mat, but that’s okay. I connected more. Not only with family, but also with strangers. People are so lonely out there. They want to be seen. They want someone – anyone – to sacrifice the deadline, the stoplight, the cell phone, the iPod, just to flash a smile and see them. So simple, yet so difficult.
We all have obligations, and sometimes meeting those obligations means that we have to sacrifice time with our children and family for a season. But for a day, even for a brief moment, see someone. Let a report go undone. Let someone have your undivided attention and watch them come alive. And before you know it, you will too!