Friday, October 13, 2006

The need for sacrifice

My mother had a martyr-complex. It became her identity. I was saying this to my spiritual director last week, as she helped me probe into why I need to rescue the underdog in many situations... why I am attracted to the notion of loving someone in a sacrificial manner (in theory anyway).

I did not describe my mother with the venom I once had for this martyrdom notion. (It's been a long time since I was the object of her sacrificial love.) However, that the same action which repelled me in her, would be evident in me, is not lost on me. I am my mother afterall.

"Your mother was endangered." she said. I hadn't thought of it that way. I always perceived her as a fighter, resilient— damaged, yes, but still... a tough old bird when it came right down to it. She was endangered. Fragile. Like we all are in God's eyes. There is an innate desire in most of us to protect the fragile, to rescue them from harm's way. I once poured my mother's whiskey down the sink. It may have been a pathetic attempt to remove what I thought was harmful, but it didn't stop her from buying another bottle. Neither has God's sacrifice stopped the human race from its hell-bent path of destruction.

Or has it? Sacrifice may not be just for the recipients. There may be something even more basic in the need for it that we are missing. What is it you haven't told us, God?

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