Sacrifice sucks. Let’s call it something else.

Last night I made a kick-ass dinner, a pitcher of Mai Tai, and a carrot cake, and we had our friends Brian and Steph over. They used to live here, but they’ve since moved back to the states where Steph is finishing her medical residency and Bri is a missionary AND a stay-at-home Dad to their perfect baby doll of a daughter. They’re cool. And it was fun.

Stephanie and I were talking about parenting and doctoring and all that junk and I said something about how it must be so hard to do it all, working so much, and coming home to a five month old, and a husband and everything. And she started to agree, and then she stopped herself and said, “Well, actually, what we call “hard” is really just a whole lot of Blessing. I could totally use it as an excuse and say ‘Oh, my life’s so hard.’ But what exactly do I have to complain about – That I get to do these things? Be a Mom? Be a wife? Have a home to walk in to after a very long day of gratifying work?”. She said something like that. And I loved it.

And that made me think of the conversation going on here, and how a post about self-sabotage turned into a discussion in comments about sacrifice.

Sometimes I think about the sacrifices made so that we can be here, and it gives me a stomach ache. It’s gut wrenching. Not even kidding, it wrenches my guts.

I am not unaware of the fact that if I use a packet of Splenda in my coffee it’s because someone else, not a human resources department or a finance department, but a living breathing person, an individual with wants and needs of their own, that person has put that little yellow packet in my hand. I feel it every time I crack an egg, turn the ignition in my car, flip a light switch, or – ugh! – see my Visa statement. Sacrifice pays our bills. Sacrifice sends our kids to school. Sacrifice let’s us eat at McDonald’s, like normal people, every now and again. Sacrifice brings us back to the states, once a year, where we get to thank those who’ve sacrificed on our behalf. Sacrifice plops us down on the doorsteps of our parents, who have been called on, unwillingly, to sacrifice as well by saying goodbye to their children and grandchildren, losing them to a foreign land, a foreign life, and in some cases to a foreign God.

It all comes at a price. A great Sacrifice… or maybe it’s a Blessing.

I pray for those who make sacrifices on my behalf. I started doing this three years ago, when I was dreading asking for support. I didn’t want anyone who gave to us to feel like it was their burden, like their Christian duty or something, I wanted them to give because it was their Blessing to be able to do so.

I know it’s hard for you Dad. You too, Mom. And Pat and Steve. I know it’s hard. Even miserable sometimes. I know it just plain sucks.

I feel weighed down by it, too. The loss. The time that passes, the things missed because we are here and not there, with you. I feel the weight of your sacrifice, the burden that you carry, totally unwillingly, because we left. I am not unaware. So I pray for each of you, the same way I pray for others that sacrifice so that we can be here. I pray that it will be your Blessing.

I pray for you to see that your sacrifice has high value. I pray that when you see your grandchildren, albeit not as often as you or I would like, that you will see three young men who have grown in confidence, and maturity, who have learned to live outside of the grip of materialism, kids who have conquered language and culture, who have discovered that they have power in this world to do something. I pray that you will see boys who have learned the value of sacrifice because they themselves have been transformed by it, moved by it, Blessed by it. And that those things happened because we are here. I pray that it will be your Blessing to know that however far away we may be, your grandsons are living a life of adventure and challenge and becoming better men because of it.

I pray for you, Dad, that every time I walk away from you to board a plane, that you will see the sacrifices you made for me as a child, now all grown up. And that you get to see a woman who holds tight to what she thinks is important and has the guts to pursue it, even at a great price. And I pray that it will Bless your soul.

People always ask me if it’s hard to be a missionary – hard to leave your family, hard to leave the ease and comfort of the U.S., hard to learn a language when you’re clearly too old and too dumb, hard to raise support, hard to miss holidays, hard to live in a foreign country, hard to visit the states or hard come back to Costa Rica after visiting the states, hard to live without Poptarts…

“Is it hard?” they ask with empathetic eyes.

And the truth is, it’s not without it’s difficulties, but it’s really not hard. I get to do this. This is my Blessing.



  1. Cathi Duggan on January 28, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Jamie, thanks for the reminder…and yes, I've seen the growth in my kids here and those stateside , and in myself.

    Have you tried the chicken recipe yet. I'm making steak and potato soup soon, and I'll send the recipe when I make it.


  2. Zac on January 28, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Wow, epic post! It is the perfect response to your dad who bared his heartache in the comments the other day. I hope it does become a blessing to him.

    This is yet another post served with humble pie for me. Not that this is even in the same ballpark as the sacrifice… I mean blessing you guys are making, but I typically complain about having to work 2 jobs and drive an hour to my one job and back. However, I need to be thankful that I am able to have a job and that I can provide for my family until hopefully God takes us on our own adventure.

  3. Carrie on January 28, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Beautiful reminder! Thank you.

  4. Anonymous on January 28, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    This is just 1 small reason I am SO proud of you. You have so many gifts and use each of them to great potential.

    I am happy to have had a part in making you the young woman you are today.

    Love & Blessings,

  5. Anonymous on January 28, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    simply beautiful

    you have received a blessing and by sharing so honestly with us God has blessed us. Now we truly feel a part of what you are doing on your mission.

    with much love and great respect Auntie Nita, Audrey and Timmy

  6. Anonymous on January 28, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    Really appreciate your comments. (Missionary in rural Mexico)…and IT IS A BLESSING! And it is hard, but much more of a blessing. You're right…I GET to be a part of the most exciting work on earth…watching God bring His Good News to people and transform their lives! I'm somewhat a 'newbie' to the blog but have since gotten several 'hooked'!
    Kathy Gouzoules
    PS We are also with IT….Petersons are here!

  7. Carrie on January 29, 2010 at 1:20 am

    Hope you don't mind, but I linked this post in my morning blog post. It affected me deeply. I'm going to email my family and donors today and tell them just how much I appreciate their sacrifices.

    Thanks again 🙂

  8. Anonymous on January 29, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Great idea Carrie…me too!
    Kathy G

  9. Theo V on January 29, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    oh that Stephanie… see why I love being related to her? Smart one that Stephanie… and you're right… that little baby is just a real cutie pie!

    Any how, I found myself thinking the same thing the other day… I "sacrifice" having 2 cars (one for me and one for Mrs. V) and only have 1 so that we could have a nice piano for Mrs. V.

    Sheesh… some people barely have enough to eat… some get to have 1 car and a beautiful piano and wife and puppies. And all I can think about is my 1 mile walk to work and how inconvenient it is…

  10. Jeff Goins on January 29, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Amen. We get to do this. The reality is that those who aren't taking risks or stepping out in faith are also sacrificing something. Given the choice between the two, I'd gladly sacrifice comfort for adventure.

    I know everyone won't see it that way, but I, like you Jamie, am just plain tired of hearing people say "how hard it must be." WhatEVer.

    Thanks for this bold post… and the occasional use of colorful language. I'm a fan.

  11. Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary on January 30, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Theo – I think amazingness runs in your family!! Enjoy your walks to work and having a home filled with the blessing of having such a talented wife!! Do you have plans to come down to CR this year??

    Jeff – So true! We are all sacrificing SOMETHING! The question is what will it be. Comfort or Adventure? Controlled Safety or Risky Faith? Security or Providence? Oooh, I feel a blog coming on….

  12. Sarah on January 30, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    This is a great reminder. I live with my husband and two beautiful, healthy daughters at Koinonia Farm, an intentional Christian community in rural Georgia. We've been here four years, the honeymoon period is over, and things have seemed pretty difficult lately.

    But when I walk out towards the pasture at dusk and get to watch the moon rising as the sun sets, or when I get to talk with a visitor who has made a pilgrimage here because they were so inspired by our history, or when plain old miracles happen, I know it's such a blessing to be here.

    My prayer is that I will be able to remember the blessing even when I'm frustrated and angry, even when I think I'd rather be somewhere else. The truth is, to quote Tom Robbins, "If there were something else I'd rather be doing, I'd damn well be doing it."

    Thanks for sharing your journey. I'm looking forward to reading more.

  13. Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary on February 3, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Sarah, thanks for your comment. Love the quote! I looked up your community online and you've got a cool thing going – a Blessing, indeed!

  14. Fiona on February 17, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    My sister and her family moved to Malaysia to start a church 8 years ago and she was NOT happy! I, on the other hand, was JEALOUS! I love adventure and travelling and she was exactly the opposite, but it was amazing to watch her come alongside the will of God and end up loving it. She did amazingly well (I was SO proud of her for driving there – I had no desire to do it – they drive like maniacs over there … I know it's organized chaos, but still!). Anyway, it afforded me the opportunity to go and visit a couple of times (going for the 3rd time in May), but as much as I would miss them and my 2 nieces and 1 nephew, I blessed them in going, while I watched my parents have a hard time with it. I didn't understand how my Christian parents could want them not to go? Don't you want your kids to be doing the will of God? Your Dad's comment on the Sabatoge post helped me to understand a bit better. I'm not a parent, so I don't get that bond and love you have with your kids. It's really powerful. Eventually my parents came around as well … although we all missed them. But their time there has come to an end and they're moving back this summer! Hey, whatever God wants, right? 😉

Leave a Comment