Sacrifice has been a topic that I've been drawn to thinking about lately, particularly during my personal scripture study. This morning I went to haul my sorry self out of bed at 6am, determined to sacrifice some precious sleep for my time with the Lord. Truthfully, feeling a bit proud of myself. Approximately two minutes later, there were noises indicating a very very awake child. My frustration level rocketed sky high. I said some very upset, tearful words to Tyler about how I don't get up early to have to spend more time dealing with my children - this is supposed to be my time to seek spiritual nourishment.
Tyler took one for the team, losing his own precious study time, and went to get the morning going with the child who was clearly not interested in sleeping more. I started to read my scriptures about sacrifice. And since I was listening, my loving Father in Heaven took this opportunity to teach me that I was missing a significant lesson on sacrifice at that very minute.
Sacrifice isn't giving what you think you should give, at a time and in a way that is convenient for you. Sacrifice is giving whatever the Lord requires, whenever He asks for it, and in whatever way He prepares. Like loving a little one at 6am during your coveted quiet time or simply saying kind words at 4.30pm on a day when no one slept enough, napped enough, or had enough space away from other family members and Daddy isn't home yet.
A burnt offering or sacrifice in the Mosiac law required burning the entire animal on the altar. Not really because God loved the actual smell itself of a burning animal, but because of what that smell meant. That the one offering the sacrifice was holding nothing back, consecrating it all to the Lord, even though sometimes it must surely have been hard to have given up one of the choicest animals of the flock to simply turn into ash, with no other purpose than to fulfill a commandment from God. And why on earth would a loving God require that? Because He knows how much more valuable our personal experience and understanding of sacrifice is than anything we could temporally use or possess physically.
I knew motherhood involved sacrifice. Scratch that. I thought I knew motherhood involved sacrifice. I never comprehended the depth, breadth, and height of the sacrifices that would be required. And truthfully, I am only at the shallowest end of this pool, there are many more years and experiences to force me out into deeper water. Lately I've been so caught up in trying to read and study the word of God more that I have forgotten the most important part, that this gospel and motherhood are all about application.
To quote from a powerful essay by Rachel Janovick in the book Mom Enough: The Fearless Mother's Heart and Hope,
"In the same way our bodies take the food we eat and make it into something a baby can eat, so our souls take what we believe about God and the gospel and faith and life, and apply it in the places that seem too little for it.
Imagine yourself in your kitchen trying to make dinner for a group of little kids who are tired and should have eaten a half hour ago. Imagine that things are going wrong beyond that...
This is no time for a gospel presentation... This isn't a time for a gospel presentation because it is a time for gospel application. This is a time to take the grace that God has extended to you, and feed your children with it. This is a time to apply what you believe about God's mercy and kindness and longsuffering towards us, and pour it out to them - in a form they can believe in."