I believe in love because I have felt the joy that comes with sacrificing for someone.
I detest getting into a cold bed. It chills me to the bone and I can’t recover until midday the next day. My mom loves it. When I was a girl this difference worked to our mutual benefit. She was always so delighted to make me happy by the simple act of jumping in my bed before I did and taking the chill out.
Fast forward almost two decades to the first time I actually shared a bed with someone: my first year of marriage. We were newlyweds , and as poor college students we always kept our house a little colder than we both would have preferred. Nearly every night my sweet husband, who did not like the chill of a cold bed either, would jump in my side of the bed first and do a quick snow angel motion a few times to take out the nip of the cold for me. What a sweetheart.
Sometimes, seeing him do those snow angels and thinking about the sting he was willing to endure for me, I wanted to cry “happy tears.” The small sacrifice he was making for me melted my heart and I would fall even more in love with him. This continued for more than five cold seasons. (This past Christmas, he gave me an electric blanket—but he still lovingly gets into bed before I do and turns on my side of the blanket so it’s preheated for me.)
One of my favorite quotes defines sacrifice as “giving up something good for something better.” By the simple comfort Logan gave up, we gained greater comfort in our marriage, including love, unity, trust, positivity, understanding—and boy did it make him even sexier to me! Sacrifice is a powerful tool for both love and joy for everyone involved. Not only does sacrifice make love especially clear to others, it also grows our love for others.
I have felt this same joy and increased love when I have sacrificed.
I have a distinct memory as a child of really wanting a teddy bear backpack. So when Christmas came around I wrote it at the top of my wish list. But I was born to good parents who wanted to teach us kids about the joy that accompanies loving sacrifice. So they took my brothers and me to the store to pick out what we considered the best toy for a child our same age and gender.
I remember finding the perfect teddy bear backpack: it zipped across the shoulders of the bear so the front would always show its cute bear face and pink leotard with a tutu across its waist. Its fur was soft and brown. Its eyes were deep and black and it had a cute shiny nose. I remember being so thrilled and squeezing that bear as if I had found a long lost friend. This was going to be the best Christmas of all, I thought, as I imagined unwrapping her Christmas morning.
But as we showed our parents our finds, they explained that these toys were not meant for under our tree, but for a family who would not get many (if any) presents that year. They hoped we would be willing to give them the favorite toy we had chosen for ourselves.
My heart sank. This bear might not end up being mine. And there at the check-out counter, my parents gave me the option of returning the bear, or giving it a girl who would love her as much as I did. I chose to make a sacrifice, and was left with a lasting impression about the power of sacrifice in connection with feelings of love.
I never got the teddy bear pack, and I don’t remember any of the specific presents I got as a child, but I do remember giving up that backpack and feeling love for a little girl I never got to meet. To this day, I feel love for that unknown girl and I find that to be a great miracle.
We can also experience the miracle of sacrifice with our closest loved ones. Yes, in getting married and having children you give up a few things, and it’s not always easy. But I have a hard time even highlighting these things because, in my experience, as you truly sacrifice and give whatever it takes you yield an abundantly unequal return. My ability to love has grown through marital and family sacrifice, and the love I feel for my family, and especially my two boys, has overcome me at times.
While my marriage and family have been the source of my greatest sacrifices, they have also been my greatest source of joy and love. I can’t think of anyone on this earth that I love more than the people I have the opportunity to give things up for.