To serve is a concept that is not well viewed in today's society. We are supposed to look out for number one, make sure our needs are met, 'express ourselves' and demand our rights.
As a spouse, these goals collide head on with the greater good of meeting the needs of our significant other and that of our children.
Imagine your sick child burning up with fever at 2 in the morning. Imagine your spouse coming home from a long day of work, hungry and demanding dinner even though you've put in a day's work much more intense than any 9 to 5 at home. Imagine your mother-in-law who needs a ride to the grocery store or a sick parent who needs you to run to the pharmacy because they've run out of a life-saving medicine.
At every turn a woman is asked to make sacrifices. And we are built to do it -- with a smile.
But if we buy into the urging of society consider our own needs first, the whole system crumbles.
Children don't get comforted as they're vomiting out their brains, husbands feel ignored and unappreciated as they make themselves a peanut butter sandwich, your mother-in-law deals with the powerlessness of not being able to attend to her own needs and being an imposition and your sick parent could end up in the emergency room with a much worse problem.
Does not compute. Women make sacrifices. They serve their loved ones and if they swallow the teachings of the modern world, every sacrifice they make feels forced. Resentments build. Repressed anger starts to manifest in excessive stress and physical illness. And if they believe that they are not fulfilled human beings if they are not investing their effort in scaling the corporate ladder, then they cannot find success or fulfillment in either the family realm nor the professional.
Service is not glamorous. It is not heralded except maybe in mother's day cards. It is not glorified and not even encouraged, except maybe in the military.
And maybe the military is a good example in this case. A soldier must follow orders without question. A soldier must sacrifice for his country and for his fellow soldiers. A soldier may not be rewarded or praised for all he or she does, and may even be vilified by most if the war or invasion they participate in is unpopular. Soldiers are called to do their duty above all else; to deny their hunger, thirst, tiredness, loneliness and to keep marching forward.
I believe we as women are called to do the same. We may not get a gold medal. Our fellow women might view our sacrifices as old-fashioned or antiquated. We might be ridiculed or told that we are wasting our lives.
But we who have chosen this lifestyle know better. We know that the rewards are much greater, not in the next life, for I don't believe we are called to make these sacrifices to 'earn' our ticket through the door of heaven, but rather we have the capability of creating heaven on earth -- a loving relationship of support with our spouse, nurtured confident children who grow up physically and emotionally healthy, loving, grateful in-laws and parents who don't feel they've been abandoned in their old age.
In the end, the effort we invest in our families -- sometimes sacrificing nights out with the girls or enrichment classes at the local university, or the respect of a society that values a Phd over a Masters in Mothering or an advanced degree in Loving Marriage -- is returned to us in blessings that have no price, pearls beyond compare.
It takes a strong woman to serve. It takes a strong woman to sacrifice. Don't be fooled into believing that you are caving into everyone's demands at the expense of your own well-being. We are meant to take it -- and then some.