Saturday, January 4, 2014

Guilt, Sacrifices, and the Struggles of Life

A few days ago, I had a conversation with someone that I wished immediately I could rewind.  I wanted to say something differently than I had.  I was talking with someone about the choices we make and sacrifices we choose to make.

I have continued to ponder what I said and that it was not what I actually feel.

Sacrifices are sacrifices because they cost us something.  I struggle with sacrifices.  I am often resentful and irritated about the ones I have to make--the ones that I do not choose of my own free will, but are rather forced upon me.  I wish I was more welcoming of these sacrifices that are required of me.

I don't think I'm the only person to struggle this way.

What I said in that conversation a few days ago highlighted a difference in my life from theirs.  It made it sound like I was luckier in some way.  But, I'm not.  Everyone's lives are different.  I sincerely believe in God's providence and that he is in control of everything.  I also believe that he knows how much and what each of us can bear and what will bring Him glory in our lives and draw us to Him.

I never (not in a million years) expected to be a stay at home, homeschooling, mom of three.  Never.  On many blogs about homeschooling and life, I've found that people only want to talk about the good parts of life.  It presents this idyllic picture of what life could be out on a farm, in the middle of nowhere, hearing the only the wind and no traffic when you step out of your house.  I do, by the way, deeply appreciate the sound of the wind on early Sunday mornings when I go outside before the world has woken up.  I am not putting that picture down, but I realize that no one's life is actually idyllic.  There has been sin and suffering in this world since the Fall and because of it, life is not easy--for anyone.

I have to be very careful in my own mind of thinking other people's lives are easier than my own.  Their circumstances may be different, but we each face challenges.

We have a choice to focus on those sacrifices we must make and become downhearted, struggling and fighting with them each day with them or tackle them and move on.  We can focus on the blessings that others receive from those sacrifices.  We can focus on what sacrifices the other people we are sacrificing for make for us.  We can focus on where God has put us and find contentment in trusting Him.

As for that conversation, I see huge blessings in their lives.  They have happy, healthy, energetic children that they love spending time with.  They love spending time together as a family whenever they get the chance.  There is love in that family.  They make the most of the time they get together and are thankful for the blessings God gives them.  They have their challenges, too, juggling work schedules and school schedules.  But, I pray that God gives them reprieves and grace so that they can bear with the sacrifices they are making.

But, there's another side to sacrifice.  It's guilt.

We can feel guilty for the sacrifices we need others to make on our behalfs.  It is hard to ask someone we love to give up something for us.  Sometimes we aren't asking, but we know that sacrifices the ones we love are making are because of us, for us, or because of decisions we have made (or had a hand in).  It's easy to regret and feel guilty because of these sacrifices.

Or at least it is easy for me.  I have to remind myself of a few things...  1) if it's a sacrifice required because of a decision we made together, I have to remember that.  We made the decision together.  2) God is working and I am trusting Him.  3) I am trying to make things as easy on the one I love as I can.  I try to make that sacrifice easier to bear.  

Just a few thoughts...

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