I grew up playing the violin. Yes it required hours of practice. Yes my Mom mandated I spend time going over the same musical piece again and again. But the best part about playing the violin was that for a moment it made me feel alive. This never came naturally to me. Mom had to remind me of it constantly. Days before a recital Mom would give me feedback: Play with your heart. She would say this putting her right hand over her chest for emphasis. I would close my eyes and start again. As I played it was as if I was transported to another world. Instead of playing the music, the music would play me.
Finding your calling is like this. We are all tuning into different frequencies. When we find a melody that resonates within us, that’s calling.
For me, that melody is sacrificial love. It’s the thing I’ve searching for. The thing that hums deep within.
As I’ve been thinking, studying and living sacrificial love, I’ve discovered 3 important insights of sacrificial love.
- Sacrificial love compels you toward a noble purpose.
In medical school I learned not to be judgmental with patients. When patients feel judged, it becomes a barrier between open communication between the patient and doctor.
However as physician, I have a goal of improving the patient’s life by doing something more than just prescribing pills. I want their behavior to improve. How do I work with a patient so they don’t feel condemned, but rather compelled to do the right thing?
Sacrificial love provides us a way forward. I had a patient who was a smoker and also a father to a 4-year-old boy who adored him. With sacrificial love in mind, I encouraged him to quit smoking so he could be around for his 4-year-old boy. Toward the end of our talk I said, You want to be the kind of person your 4-year-old son thinks you are. He nodded letting the words sink in. Sacrificial love was compelling him toward a nobler purpose.
- Sacrificial love undergoes suffering and overcomes adversity.
My mentor was having an office visit with an obese 10 year old boy who’s father was hospitalized for dangerously high blood sugars. He knew this boy loved his father and wanted to awaken sacrificial love and the suffering one might have to go through. My mentor wanted to help the boy change his own life and by doing so exert an influence on his father. He asked the boy, Would you be willing to give your life for your father? The boy nodded his head. Would you be willing to give up your arm for your father? Again the boy nodded. What about changing your diet for the sake of your father?
A few weeks later I saw the same boy in my office. He had lost weight and had started changing his diet and lifestyle. As a result, he was exerting an influence on his diabetic father. When we love someone deeply we become willing to suffer for their sake. An understanding of this suffering can move us to make important life changes.
- Sacrificial love comes from the heart.
You know sacrificial love when you see it. It’s genuine. It’s authentic. That’s because it comes from deep within. It has to come from your heart, from your soul. It’s moving. And it moves those who witness it.
I’m convinced that a love like this actually originates from outside us. It is actually the Spirit of God that puts sacrificial love in us. It would be otherwise impossible for us to love in such deep and inspiring ways.
Has your life been changed by sacrificial love? Share your story in a comment.