Sacrifice. Let’s be honest. That word isn’t particularly popular, especially in today’s me-centered culture.
Most of the time, we’re conditioned by the world around us through advertisements, commercials, magazines, movies, TV, and even social media to focus on ourselves. We’re bombarded with messages that draw our attention to what we should buy next, what we should wear, how we should feel, where we should go, etc.
Obviously we can’t sacrifice so much for others that we neglect taking good care of ourselves, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We need to maintain healthy boundaries, especially regarding abusive relationships.
However, in today’s feel-good, strive-after-happiness culture, we all too often put our own desires and needs WAY ahead of others. In fact, a quick browse through Pinterest gave me these sayings:
- YOU don’t need anyone’s permission to do what is right for YOU.
- I just do want I want. It’s not about what people are saying. It’s about ME.
- Do YOUR thing and don’t care if they like it.
- If YOU don’t go after what YOU want, YOU’LL never have it.
- I’m going to do what I want, when I want, how I want, and you can’t do anything to stop me.
If we were to isolate each of the above sayings and try to understand the true intention behind each one, we’d probably come away with a smidgen of truth. For example if we’re standing up for what’s right, then we should do our thing and not care if anyone likes it. If we’re changing careers to pursue something we love and are good at, then maybe we’ll never have it if we don’t go after it.
Yet, when we’re bombarded with those kinds of sayings every day everywhere we turn, the me-centered philosophy begins to affect us more deeply and profoundly than we realize. We begin to believe that our personal satisfaction is the most important thing and that we should do whatever it takes to be happy. Our focus shifts to making sure we get our needs met. First. And foremost. In fact, not only do we strive after what we want, but we even begin to think we deserve to be happy, comfortable, and pain-free. And we feel jilted when we’re not.
Many adults complain that we’re raising a generation of entitled children—children who haven’t had to work hard, handle responsibility, and have been given everything their hearts desire. But could it be that all of us are falling prey to the sense of entitlement?
Unfortunately, the me-first mindset follows many us into our relationships. All too often we want to have a boyfriend or a man to make us happy, to meet our needs, to look after us.
Even more unfortunately, when that type of self-centered mindset follows a couple into marriage, wedded bliss soon turns into a wedded battle as each person vies to get his or her needs met through the other person.
A Daring Sacrifice, my newly released Young Adult novel, is my attempt to re-introduce the long-forgotten and little-used idea of self-sacrifice back into relationships. My twin daughters are entering the world of dating, and as I counsel them about what a healthy relationship looks like, I want to emphasize self-sacrifice—the giving up of our own interests or wishes in order to help others.
I want my daughters to have relationships not for what they can get out of them, but because they want to walk alongside a young man and serve God together. I don’t want my daughters to be consumed with their own pleasure but rather be seeking to put aside the desires of their flesh. I even want my daughters to be willing to sacrifice a relationship—if need be—so they can remain faithful to bringing God glory.
That’s tough! But then again, sacrifice wouldn’t be sacrifice without some pain involved—maybe sometimes even lots of pain.
Perhaps if we can model and teach our young people to implement self-sacrifice in their lives and dating relationships, then we’ll be equipping them for the necessary ingredient of sacrifice in marriage.
In light of the above me-first sayings, do you think the concept of sacrifice is dying in today’s culture? What can we do to save it from dying a complete death?
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