A Word on Sacrifice
If you live in a first world country like me (Go USA!), you know the comforts and standards of living we take for granted every day. Especially for those in the middle class and up on the economic spectrum, we get to enjoy the access to delicious food, clean water, and safe shelter. We get to sit on comfortable couches and recliners, eating buttery popcorn and sugary candy while we Netflix and chill. We get to stay dry and warm when a tropical storm or a blizzard rolls into town. We get to walk to the grocery store to pick up supplies without having to worry about a bomb dropping or stepping on a landmine. We get to sleep soundly at night, knowing that are protected by alarm systems and police departments.
We enjoy enormous amounts of comfort every day. It feels good. It is a commodity that we spend – as a society – fortunes to acquire and hold. While comfort may be a good thing to enjoy, it makes us lazy, complacent, and even uncompassionate. It makes us snuggle up in bed instead of waking up early to hit that 5 am workout. It makes us avoid doing that which we have to do in order to stay inside our comfort zones. It makes us turn a blind eye when we see someone in need, asking for money on a street corner. How can one show mercy if one has known no hunger? No pain? No sacrifice?
I spent 25 hours over the weekend with a team of 25 individuals. Each of us carried 20-30 lbs of personal weight on our backs, and as a team we shared the load of hundreds of pounds over 37 miles of marching. In these 25 hours we had no sleep and no comfort. We had the pleasure of partially experiencing what the US military experiences (without fear of being shot and dying) every campaign. Whenever I tell people what I did, I get the same response every time: Why?
I’ll tell you why: because there are those that choose to do this AND sacrifice their lives so that people like me can enjoy these comforts; because every day there is someone who goes to sleep under a highway underpass with an empty stomach in cold weather; because there are children in war torn countries that don’t know if they are going to survive the next day. You get the picture.
I’m not saying you need to abandon all your comforts, or feel bad for being lucky enough to enjoy them. My only suggestion is that you approach sacrifice as a practice. Every once in a while, do something outside your comfort zone. Give up an idle activity that you love doing for a few weeks and replace it with volunteer work. Let go of material goods that you have strong attachments to by donating them to the needy. Instead of spending $1000 on that next huge TV, donate that money to a cause you believe in. Or put on a 30 lb backpack and march for 25 hours. Your pick.
You build your character and feed your soul through hard work, pain, and sacrifice – not through rest, pleasure, and comfort. The soul is strengthened in the measure of which the body is weakened, so do some soul strengthening this week.