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Easter, women, and what it means to sacrifice

Sacrifice. It’s a pretty loaded term, isn’t it? The dictionary defines it as ‘offering’, ‘surrender’ or ‘devoted’, but I think it means even more. It means not only putting ourselves out there, but the full giving of ourselves to and for someone, something. There are a few good examples in history about this – and I can think of one in particular that truly takes the cake, showing us truly what love means through the ultimate sacrifice, showing us why we celebrate Easter. As women, many of us know sacrifice. And sometimes it’s small. Sacrificing a nice coffee in the morning to get the kids ready or sacrificing asking for praise at work when we’ve finished a project. But sometimes it’s big – Huge. Sacrificing our career for many years to look after our family, sacrificing spending me time to spend time with our partners, sometimes sacrificing a career step for job stability, sacrificing zillions of hours of sleep, sacrificing even thinking about yourself – often, to be a woman is to be sacrificial. In my day job, I travel a bit, and I have just gotten back from Southern Africa. Wow, did I see some sacrifice there! There, women seem to sacrifice everything – laboring intensively and constantly for their family and children. They often sacrifice their education, their health, even their bodies from years and years of breastfeeding and hard labour (It’s very often the women carrying the water, pounding the maize, washing the clothes, working in the fields). But the funny thing is, these women – some of them only 15 years old – would not think of it as ‘sacrifice.’ They would think of it, as life. But do we, the women of Australia, the women who are connected enough to read this blog right now, think of sacrifice as life? I wish I could say that I did. Because to be sacrificial is one of the most admiral qualities that any of us could have. To give of ourselves freely without want of reward, to do things for people because you care about them and not because you want people to think you’re caring and compassionate, to lead in a way that benefits a group and not yourself, to love and love only because you are also loved. Sounds like a pretty good CV, huh? I so wish I could be all of the above. To go into the shower and scrub away my selfishness, my inhumanity, my judgment, my wondering what people think of me, my preoccupation with ensuring that I am seen as intelligent, compassionate, learned, smarter than my age. I wish I could put on the soap of sacrifice, as the women that I saw in Southern Africa do, without even knowing to rinse it off. As a 10 year old, sitting in the car on the way to school, I once asked my Mum if she would take a bullet for me. Without hesitating, she said ‘Yes, I would’. Upon my inquiring why, she didn’t even blink, saying ‘Because that’s what love is, Catherine’. This is a woman who sacrificed her career for her children, decades of her life to raise the best possible children she could (4 of them!), who saw her husband once a week if she was lucky for over a decade, and who basically never complained. And after all that, she would, in an instant, sacrifice her life to save me. Only this week, I read in the newspaper about a woman that was stabbed to death by her own estranged husband in her own hairdressing salon (I actually frequented this same salon with my Mum as a little girl). Her pregnant young daughter was there, along with an older woman, who defended both the women with courage. Firstly attacking his step-daughter, the ex-wife ran from behind the salon to stand in the way of him and her daughter, protecting her and her unborn baby. As a result, the woman was killed, and her daughter survived. She sacrificed her life for her. As my Mum read it to me, we both started to cry [For more details, see The West Australian Newspaper, Page 6-7, Monday 30th, 2015]. Look around. There are many examples of sacrifice around us – even in our individualistic, often self-obsessed and perfection-seeking society. They are the people, the moments, that show us that life is worth more than what we can be, but also what we can do for others. So, this Easter, have a think about what sacrifice means in your life. And I hope you can find that ray of sunshine that you’re seeking. cat_bioline-01

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