7 Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver. 8 God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work. 9 As it is written, He scattered everywhere; he gave to the needy; his righteousness remains forever. 2 Corinthians 9:7-9, CEB
(We’re in the middle of a series on sacrifice for people in recovery that starts on Day 1. Get caught up or you may feel lost.)
How, do we figure out how to sacrifice thoughtfully?
- Stop using the word “sacrifice,” to describe codependent behavior.
It’s very tempting to justify our responses to life circumstances by wrapping these responses in spiritual language. Just as a for instance, consider a parent who quits a job so that they can be on hand to drive an addicted child to 12 step meetings, or to the child’s job, or to court, or to their meetings with their attorney. This parent may be too anxious about his or her child’s well being to simply allow this child to figure out their own transportation. Rather than admit that anxiety is leading them to behave in ways that hinder their child’s recovery, the parent may instead say, “This is what self-sacrificial love looks like.”
No, that isn’t what self-sacrificial love looks like. This parent isn’t actually sacrificing. Why not? Because they aren’t driving the child everywhere for the child’s benefit, they are driving the child everywhere because of their own anxiety about what it looks like to be a parent. When we do something for someone else to ease our own anxiety then we are acting in our interests rather than in the interests of someone else. This is more about me determining my worth through someone else’s life circumstances than about being truly and sincerely helpful and then I am justifying my behavior by using the spiritual language of sacrifice.
In order to sacrifice, I must be self-aware enough to know whether I am acting to assuage anxiety, or to give my own life meaning, as opposed to being really and truly helpful to someone else. If I don’t have this awareness, I have no choice but to dress my anxious behaviors in spiritual clothes. How ‘bout we don’t?!