I didn’t want to go.
I had better plans for the night, and now I was being asked to put them aside. My plans were to go to the movies. I wanted to see the opening night of Armageddon. Ben Affleck was calling my name.
I had two avenues for getting to my night at the movies. One was my older sister who had a licence and wheels, and the other was my best friend who was planning to go (and take me, of course!). We were two excited 15- year-olds. We’d been practicing our Liv Tyler lips and singing Aerosmith and everything.
And then everyone changed their minds. Well, sort of. My sister and my best friend decided to go to church instead. My sister Amy kind of had to. She was in the choir, and the church was having an Independence Day singing and celebration. She was one of a few hundred in the choir who would be singing and praying for our nation. My friend Lindsey was going because…well…she couldn’t drive yet and her whole family (who attended the church) was going. She begged me to go with her since she had to go.
I didn’t want to go.
And then, something awesome happened! My other friend was going to the movie and invited me!
I wanted to go to the movies so badly. But I started having this niggling little whisper that maybe I should go with Lindsey or Amy to church. I whined to my mom. I really wanted to see that movie. Why did I need to go see Amy sing? She’d be, like, one of 200. I probably wouldn’t even be able to spot her. And why did Lindsey want me to come along if she didn’t even want to be there?
And my mom said, “Paige, just go to church. Go see your sister. Go with Lindsey.” It was such a simple directive at the moment. It solved my dilemma quickly and efficiently.
But looking back on it, I see that what my mom was telling me to do was something she had done many, many times in my life without us ever knowing it. She actually did it constantly, without thought or hesitation.
It’s called sacrifice. She was telling me to sacrifice. For someone else. It’s what you do when you love someone.
I know it’s a little thing. Giving up going to a silly movie for my sister and my friend. But each day is made up of many little things, and the little things gradually meld into major things.
Major things like sacrifices made in love. I can see it all very clearly now.
My mom always insisted that she preferred things like the thin end pieces of bread, the last dry piece of sandwich meat, and the smallest leftover piece of pizza. And we always believed her.
My dad spent countless hours–yes hours–outside throwing a softball at me (you can’t really throw a ball with someone unless they are catching it, don’t you think?) until that moment that I finally learned to catch it! And then he nailed a tire to the wall of our little playhouse and stood and coached me through pitching until I could throw a strike over and over again.
Both of my parents gave nights (and lots of money) when I’m sure they were tired and weary from work to gymnastics, piano, cheerleading, beauty pageants, and band meetings for all of us girls. Not to mention the hours of hard work they put in to make ends meet and to give us extra things that were special to us.
If they ever complained, I don’t remember it. They sacrificed countless little things almost constantly that amounted to one big thing.
Love. They love us.
They showed my sisters and me that when you truly love someone, you sacrifice the little things and the big things, even when you don’t want to. And you don’t complain.
Jesus’ ministry on earth was one huge sacrifice after another. He sacrificed His throne in Heaven to come in the first place, and then when He was here, His life was never His own. Because of His love for His Father, and because of His Father’s love for us, Jesus gave Himself to us in all the little ways before He gave the ultimate sacrifice of His life. He always listened, He allowed His moments to be interrupted by children, by inquiring disciples, and even by rude Pharisees without complaint. He went out of His way to heal the sick and even raise the dead. He sacrificed His reputation by seeking out the hurting outcasts and making them new. Because of His love. Because He is love.
And He calls us to sacrifice in the name of love. It’s not always fun. It’s not always easy, either.
But in our earthly sacrifices, God leads us to the greater gifts that He has in store for us.
That night 18 years ago, I went to church with Lindsey. I did spot my sister (she’d had to go early, so I couldn’t ride with her), and I watched her the whole time, singing her heart out to our Lord. She is an incredible singer. It was an awesome service. Simply wonderful.
When the night was over, I went to eat with Lindsey’s family, and we met some of their friends in the parking lot. I met a boy named Chris, and even though we were both so shy that we didn’t speak (we did make approximately one second of eye contact), I knew–I knew–that this was the guy I was going to marry. God whispered it to my heart that very night.
Boy am I glad I sacrificed that crazy movie!
I did marry Chris. And he shows me the true meaning of sacrifice and love daily. He is one of the kindest people I know.
I’m so thankful for him.
I’m thankful for parents who sacrificed and loved us, even to this day, showing us what you do when you love someone.
And I’m so thankful for a Father in Heaven, who sacrificed His Son because He loved me so.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16