Dave and I just got back from Palm Sunday church service. Our Episcopal priest was recently chosen to be the new Bishop of West Texas, as the previous Bishop is retiring. We have two weeks left with Father David, and I, for one, have been pouting. Yep, I said it.....pouting.
We moved to Texas, we built our forever home, we found our church home, and our priest gets snatched up by the Diocese of West Texas. Poor me! Uggghhhh! Lent has been a time that has really made me think this year, more than many years in the past. Part of it is due to Dave and I taking on some new habits; part of it is due to sacrificing something (so miniscule on my part, it is definitely not worth mentioning); and part of it has been watching "The Chosen", a mini-series about the life of Jesus. It has really put this Easter season in perspective for us, and it makes me think about sacrifice, in general.
Dave has had to sacrifice many times for me, as my work takes me on trips around the globe. I jokingly say he has sacrificed a couple of times to come with me to the Virgin Islands for work (he never seemed to have a conflict with those particular dates), and he has had to sacrifice when I traveled to North Dakota (yes, his homeland) in the winter by staying home with the dogs (he seemed to have a conflict with those dates). But seriously, he does sacrifice when I am gone for work, because, while he is retired and he might go play golf, all of the daily chores of "life" are left to him. I absolutely love what I do, so it is a small sacrifice to be delayed by air travel or have to settle for a hotel room versus a suite (are you rolling your eyes yet? If not, you should be), but the truth of the matter is: sacrifice need only feel sacrificial if I choose to look at it that way. I have often heard, "Pain is inevitable; misery is optional". I think this is so true for so many of us. We will go through hard times, but we can still know peace if we choose it.
I talk with my graduate students and doctoral students a lot about sacrifice. All of my graduate students are going to become school leaders (either principals or superintendents or district personnel) and my doctoral students are giving up a couple of years to write a dissertation. The best school leaders I have ever known are the ones who are truly servant leaders and put students, teachers & staff, and families first. My first assistant superintendent, when I became principal, always reminded me that if we put the child in the center of the table of any discussion that is being held, we cannot go wrong. I think we can sometimes forget that when other "stuff" happens or seems to take priority. The 5% of the loudest voices take up 95% of our time....if we let them. Likewise, I think it's true that, in our own personal lives, we can let the 5% of crummy stuff that happens in our day take up 95% of the space in our heads. I have a choice, though. I can choose to put the ones who need my support the most in the forefront of my mind, not just the ones who scream the loudest. What voices do you listen to most in your own life and work? Being a servant or a servant leader means, for many, the ability to say, "My will may not be the most important one on the table right now." Even if I want it to be so, looking at the big picture might actually mean looking at the most vulnerable needs in front of me. Sounds a little bit like the Beatitudes from the Bible, if you ask me.
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
I am eternally grateful for all of the people in my life who have sacrificed for me, in order that I could get to a place in which I feel physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy. I pray that you feel the same way about those people in your life.
Just for today, perhaps consider reaching out to one or more of them and thanking them for their sacrifice.
Happy Communicating and (for those that celebrate it) Happy Holy Week!