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Sacrifice is vital for happiness. Most people think the word “sacrifice” is bad and sounds like a hardship, not a joyful journey. Happiness sounds much better! But without giving up some of our indulgences, excuses and time wasters, it’s difficult to accomplish the things that bring the most happiness, like fulfilling our roles as parents and living the missions God has in store for us.
What’s your mission? Do you feel called to, “Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, teach the ignorant, comfort the lonely, create beauty, liberate the captives, or create beauty”? (Oliver DeMille) These eight missions appear repeatedly throughout history as ways people change the world and others’ lives for good. Does one of these missions stand out to you?
Did you know that being a parent covers all eight of these missions? What will we sacrifice to do our very best at our parent and grandparent missions?
Most of the heroes we look up to don’t just do one great thing. They’re a different sort of person all together. Living a mission to improve the world is less about what you do and more about who you are. The heroes in our lives are people who have lived successful missions and then been given more missions to do.
Our life’s purpose isn’t just one moment in our history — it’s each moment in our history. It’s made up of all the little choices of how we spend our time and bond with others each day. As we sacrifice our selfish desires for what God wants us to do, we become more ready to be used by God to accomplish His work, which involves doing some or all of the eight missions mentioned above. Choosing to follow the first mission given to us often leads us to doing another mission He has in store for us.
To live a life of mission is to live in continuous sacrifice and joy. When we sacrifice our laziness, entitlement, excuses and weaknesses, we see miracles that lead to increased happiness and contentment.
What Will You Sacrifice?
A father recently told me with a tone of personal power, “I’ve deleted every game from my phone to spend more time with my family and do more meaningful things!” He was so happy! He was so free! He had taken a brave step and sacrifice toward his meaningful fatherhood mission.
A friend recently told me she tells her husband to take her iPad to work with him so that she doesn’t use it during the day and neglect her children. She recognized that she was shopping online and looking at social media too much. Her children were having behavior problems because she was too distracted. She bravely sacrificed her daytime online habits to improve her relationship with her children and to focus on becoming a more connected parent. When she said “no” to her device she was able to focus on helping her children and strengthening their family relationships. It was miraculous to see the shift in this family.
A wife confided in me that she used to nag at her husband and focus too much on what he didn’t do, instead of focusing on what he did do. She chose happiness by sacrificing her pride and judgement. She chose to see the good in him, and he ended up choosing to develop more good qualities as a result. Her change of heart inspired him much more than her negative nagging ever had. Praise teaches cause and effect. It teaches that good actions solicit good feedback. That’s why we should praise our children and spouses for their good actions more than we correct their flaws. Since correction is required for good parenting, the praise should be constant.
What will you sacrifice for your real purpose in life and for your mission? Who are you supposed to be? What way of living do you know will bring you happiness?
The Freedom on the Other Side of Sacrifice
When a sacrifice for a greater good is made, the feeling of freedom is almost instant. Of course hardships will be felt. Cravings to be angry or use a computer game won’t go away instantly, but the powerful feeling that comes from the deliberate choice to remove the game from the phone or learn how to calm down is instantly empowering and liberating. This power boost inspires us to stick with our commitment. It fuels the will to stay strong when the body wants to give in to the easier choice.
Living our missions isn’t easy, but it’s empowering and liberating. Only when we trust in God’s will instead of our own desires do we experience the miracles and strength to make it through the hardships of life.
Trials will happen no matter if we are being lazy and avoiding sacrifice or if we are deliberately deciding how we will better sacrifice for our missions. It just makes sense to take the sacrificing path. I’d rather have heavenly help with my mission than be all alone in my slothfulness.
My Personal Sacrifice
Along with my wife mission and mother mission, which I spend the most time doing, I have a mission to help families be united at home and to fortify them against the attacks that are destroying family relationships.
As part of this mission, the Catholic Diocese of Kenya has asked me to speak to their leaders about strengthening the family in Nairobi this July. It’s an honor to be asked and a sacrifice to go advise these leaders. We could really use your help. If you’re able to help us with any portion of the $6,000 we need to cover the flight and expenses, we would really appreciate it! The WOW organization (a 501(c)3 nonprofit) is taking donations for our trip, so the donation is tax-deductible. Donations can be made