I’ve been trying to make sacrifices, for the benefit of my soul but also just to offer up for others. But I have to admit, it has been harder than I anticipated. I tried giving up a meal, but when I am really hungry I simply have to eat as I am still nursing Felicity. I tried to give up time on the internet, which worked for a few hours until Cecilia wanted to watch one of her DVDs on it (It was a present I bought her and I’m not sure if it works on a regular DVD player yet – it is a PAL format). And then I hit a wall. I had already given up caffeine for health reasons, I can’t drink alcohol, I don’t eat out or go out often, and, basically, I spend my day caring for my daughters. I could try to spend more time in prayer or something but I wanted it to be a sacrifice that wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing already but rather on the extra-ordinary end of things.
I spent last night, while cleaning and straightening up after I’d put Felicity to bed, praying and pondering these things. Then I remembered something I read once. I know it was written by a saint and want to say it was either St. Therese of Lisieux or St. Teresa of Avila (maybe someone can confirm who it was) but I am not sure. The saint said not to try to create sufferings and sacrifices for yourself but joyfully embrace and accept the ones Christ chooses to give you.
It was at this point Felicity woke up after sleeping only about 45 minutes. And as I nursed her and tried to get her back to sleep it dawned on me that Felicity’s recent difficulty sleeping, including naps, and frequent waking (we think she is teething) is not only her sacrifice but mine. When I am tired or enjoying my few short moments of quiet and doing something I want to do and she wakes up crying, God is asking me to sacrifice. It is no different than a religious who is asked to scrub the convent toilets or a priest who goes to visit a sick parishioner in the hospital. Just because it is a necessary part of one’s vocation does not make it worth less than something that seems “above and beyond” the call of duty. In fact, because it is something we are supposed to do it is all the more important we do it. And, as if those sacrifices could not be more important, they are not ones that we have selected but ones that Christ Himself has hand-chosen for us. And because they are from Him and we are His followers, we should do them with love and joy.
So I cannot offer missed meals or refused drinks or hours on my knees before the tabernacle. But I can offer the spills of Apple Juice or Chocolate Milk and the night wakings when I cannot walk straight due to sleepiness or the squeegie diapers that explode on my skirt or even just one of those days when Cecilia needs extra attention and Felicity is teething and I am just one chaotic tornado whirling from one room to another trying to keep both girls happy and make sure both know how much they are loved. It is those moments of unplanned, unchosen chaos that I am called to offer with love and joy. Joyful chaos is my sacrifice. Joyful chaos is my gift.