Tuesday, March 23, 2010

love is peanut butter ice cream...

I once read a story about a family that lived by a simple motto, "love is sacrifice." I was intrigued and touched to learn that the motto started as a way of living between a husband and wife who so utterly exemplified it that their young children grasped the concept without delay. The father recollected a time when he took his two children to the mall to run some errands. He needed to go to Sears and he decided to drop his kids off at the petting zoo while he ran in. His daughter was probably six and his son was about 4. He gave his daughter fifty cents and went on his way. As he was entering Sears, he felt a tug at his sleeve and there was his daughter. He asked her why she hadn't gone into the petting zoo and she explained that it cost fifty cents to get in and not a quarter, like her father had assumed. She said she gave her quarter to her brother because "love is sacrifice." Beautiful, right? The father said he wanted her to really learn the lesson and to feel the sacrifice, so even though petting fluffy animals meant FAR more to her than to her little brother, the father took her with him to run the errands instead of giving her money to get in on her own. I'm so amazed at the environment that is being cultivated in that family, but I have to say... it isn't the first time I've witnessed that.
Another family that i deeply love and respect has already trained their children (3, ranging from 6-10 years old) to live the same way. Maybe they haven't got a motto for it, but the lifestyle is clearly there. I've watched all 3 children regularly and voluntarily sacrifice for each other. It's no surprise that I've seen it fully lived out by their parents, as well. I remember once, when I was first really getting to know them, we were on a trip together and we stopped off at a chicken restaurant. I had never eaten there, as we don't have any of that particular chain in Michigan, but I quickly picked up on a fact that EVERYONE else knew; this place has THE best biscuits. Ever. The thing is, they only give you one with each meal, so you really have to savor every delicious, buttery bite. Imagine my surprise, as I'm scarfing down my biscuit in my own deliriously happy world, when i look over to see the wife cheerfully giving her own to her husband. Shock. Awe. Accusations of insanity. But this was only the beginning... I can assure you that I've witnessed countless other such events in the years that followed.
And, do I even need to tell you that they have one of the strongest, most loving marriages I've encountered? It makes total sense. In a culture that teaches us to look out for number one, that we deserve instant gratification and that it's our right to be happy-no matter at what cost it comes to others- our relationships have suffered. As I look about and examine healthy families, marriages and friendships around the world, it becomes more and more apparent to me that the best way to build lasting bonds is to put others first. It's nothing new, God is all about it. He's the perfect model of sacrifice. Isn't it interesting that his word tells us that he IS love? Love and sacrifice seem to go hand-in-hand.
And so, dear people, I happily report that this concept of sacrifice has made it's way into my own marriage, and I pray that it will remain there forever. John and I don't usually say that love is sacrifice... instead we say that love is peanut butter ice cream, when the other person would rather have chocolate brownie fudge... or watching Pride & Prejudice instead of The Bourne Ultimatum. Maybe those are such little things... but isn't the majority of life really made up of all the little things? And all of those little things put such big smiles on our faces and remind us each and every day that we love each other, and that our love is for a lifetime. It reaffirms the commitment we made to each other and to God and it reminds me why I married him every single time. So, in light of all of that, maybe they aren't as little as others make them out to be. Besides, if we can't learn to sacrifice the ice cream, we'll never be able to sacrifice where it really matters. So, whatever relationship you find yourself in today... marital, parental, friendly... remember that love is sacrifice, and watch to see what sort of environment you'll soon cultivate.

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