This is the sixth post in a series on Lenten reflections. You can find part one, the prelude, here. Part two, an overview about the six weeks of Lent and what it offers, can be found here. The third, a post about the communal nature of fasting, can be found here. The fourth, the value of alms giving can be found here. And the fifth, repairing shame through repentance can be found here.
To say that I was an overachiever when I was young is a bit of an understatement. As much as I’d like to blame my parents for my perfectionist tendencies, I can’t. I think I was born a bit neurotic, which is to say that I was born feeling like I had to prove myself. After two decades, it meant that I had a whole host of awards to my name.
At some time, all those recognitions must have gone to my head, because by time I was 19, I thought that I could have the goal of becoming the next National Press Secretary. I chuckle at the idea now, but it was a very serious dream back then.
But then, in my junior year of college, I got pregnant. It’s not the first time a young girl got pregnant unexpectedly, and I’m sure I wasn’t the last, but because of the awards, and because of the expectations, and because I was known as the God girl, it was a disaster. Standing, staring down at the pregnancy test, I hesitated to let it all sink in because there was one thing that I knew: if the baby was going to have any chance of having a normal life, my dreams — all my dreams — were dead. My reputation, my character, my achievements, and my goals were all gone. In seconds, I was very aware that I would have to sacrifice every thing I knew and work towards a life for a kid I didn’t even know.*
And that’s what I did.
I look at my life and my 10 year old son now, and it all doesn’t seem so bad. In fact, it seems a little silly to even write it so dramatically. But it was the hardest thing I had to do, and it is a choice that continues to be a sacrifice in the sense that those goals, and that life, are still forever over. And in those moments when I miss who I used to be, I feel the weight of sacrifice that has been paid:
All of me for all of you.
Because that experience was lived-in, I approach Holy Week differently. I know we’re supposed to think about what has been sacrificed for us. But instead of putting on black and covering myself with ashes, I think about what it feels to be the one sacrificing. I think about where Jesus’ mind was at as He made the conscious and deliberate choice to make us His kids.
He knew the mocking that would take place, the torments, the slander, the spitting, the whipping, the stripping, but there was a moment in there before all that. It was the moment of choice. He had to choose me. He had to choose us. And it was going to take all of him for all of us.
And it doesn’t matter if you believe that the sacrifice He conducted was for the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, or just to teach us how to stop being such assholes to each other and to live peacefully. He still had the foreknowledge to know what was coming, and He choose to give up everything He had worked for, and cultivated, so that we could have a life that we wouldn’t have had if He didn’t. All of Him for all of me.
That’s where I want my mind to be this week. Steeped in the truth that He chose me. That He chose a path where He could be with me. That He chose having me as a kid, sister, friend, not in spite of the cross, but before the cross. And He keeps choosing, even if it still means that there are additional sacrifices now. Because I’m what matters to Him.
You’re what matters to Him.
He’d choose to sacrifice anything so you could live a rich, full, deep life, here, as you breathe your last, and beyond the last breaths.
May you spend your week steeped in the truth that you are so deeply loved.
*Now, most people will correct me at this point in the story. They will point out that there’s a lot of working moms out there. And I understand where they are coming from. And so, I just want to add, it’s not that I didn’t think I could ever work again. It’s that I couldn’t work where I wanted, how I wanted, and when I wanted to. Media relations teams work 14 hour days, and that’s just not the mother I wanted to be. To have the baby meant that it had my priority.