What are some of the sacrifices you make daily? Maybe you sacrifice time so that others could reap benefits? Perhaps you make sacrifices for your kids so that they can do events that they would not have gotten a chance to do otherwise. Do you look at missed opportunities as sacrifices? The truth is we all make sacrifices in ways that other people don’t expect.
For years I always said I was too busy to do some volunteer work. I came up with every excuse imaginable. I didn’t want to take the time to do it. I was one of those folks who could criticize well but not back up that criticism by taking action. I had to learn to sacrifice my time in other areas to do something that mattered to me. I have many friends who are offering the things they want to come through for their kids. We all have priorities in our life. One of the things I am sacrificing are the material things that I want to that I can get out of debt. I can still do a night out; every once in awhile, but I’ve had to curb what I spend and how often I spend. This issue is one example of sacrificing what I want to get what I need.
I have a good friend who sacrificed a kidney for someone they loved recently. No matter what anyone tells you, donating organs is not like going to the store and picking up what you need. There is so much information medically that has to be processed to determine if someone is a good match to be a donor. There is mental and physical tension that people go through. The recipient goes through an array of emotions while waiting to find out if the donor is a match or not, and then there are the overwhelming tests and procedures that both parties endure. While my friend doesn’t regret her decision, she had complications after the operation that took longer to recover than she anticipated.
Then there are sacrifices for our families we routinely make. For people with children, families may sacrifice monetary means for one venue to provide opportunities for their children. There is a small window of time that kids get to be kids. Unfortunately, too many kids have families forced to work 2-3 jobs to make ends meet. Community centers and other non-profit agencies do their best to help families that need them most, but too many families don’t get the extra leg up they need. When I volunteered with Empowered Girls of NC, I witnessed firsthand the outpouring of time young girls were assigned to assist them with STEM programs. There were approximately 150 girls enrolled in the program. Statewide that number is nowhere near enough. Through programs like Empowered Girls, families who sacrifice so much can provide opportunities for girls that might never have had the chance.
Some successful businessmen and women will tell you how their families sacrificed their dreams so that their kids wouldn’t have the same problems that their parents faced. When I attended East Carolina in the early 1990s, I met with many students attending college off scholarships or whose families never graduated college but determined their child would be the first generation to graduate from a University. When I think back on the times in my life that I had plenty and didn’t have to sacrifice, I’m ashamed of how I took that knowledge for granted.
Some people sacrifice what they believe in to refrain from being mocked. It takes strength to stand up for what you believe in, but that doesn’t mean that those who choose to remain silent are weak. They decide not to instigate drama. Their jobs may be threatening to let them go if they don’t go along with what the jobs entail. They may be afraid of lynching if mobs of people are angry enough. I’m not condoning or endorsing anyone’s beliefs. What I am doing is stating a fact. When people feel attacked, they sacrifice many of their principles. It’s rare for people to stand against the norm, especially when the rest of the outside world appears to be on the attack. If you want prime examples, look at the heated debates on vaccinations. No matter what side of the discussion you fall under, we’ve all had to make sacrifices over the last year to keep ourselves and each other safe. Tempers are short, patience drained, and it left people exhausted.
Then we have the ultimate sacrifice, the men and women who perished while saving other people. They are not always emergency workers. Sometimes it’s people who make a difference by helping others they never met. I’ve seen stories of regular people die while rescuing someone out of a burning car or trying to rescue someone drowning or other catastrophes. Natural disasters have taken many heroes that never will have their names acknowledged, but their impact lives on today because of their heroic actions. Our military personnel make sacrifices daily. These brave men and women put their lives on the line to ensure civilians have better lives. Some of these brave soldiers never see the light of day. They are killed in battle and don’t always make it home. Soldiers sacrifice time with their loved ones to put their country first. Our freedom isn’t free. It’s been paid for time and time again by blood shed. The values and morals instilled in these heroes can’t be put into one or two words. No matter how many insults are slung to the people in the military, their honor rises above what words and phrases tear down.
I don’t know what sacrifices you are making or the reasons why. What I do know is those actions affect people in ways that you will never fully comprehend. So to the families that sacrifice for their kids to have better lives, thank you. Your sacrifices are not in vain. For the people donating organs, no amount of thanks is enough. You are helping give people back their lives. It is one of the most selfless acts of sacrifice people can make. Your legacy will last to the heroes that didn’t make it to see another day because your impression will forever imprint on the saved people. People may not always recognize the sacrifices you make, but those actions will impact them. Who knows? You might find those sacrifices pay it forward by the people who shared in those sacrifices. Have a great day, everyone.