unheard of: "dependance on sacrifice - lessons from my little boy"

This post I wrote soon after our son was born in 2008. "Unheard of" is a series while I'm on vacation where I dig up old posts few people have read.

Dependence on Sacrifice - Lessons From My Little Boy

I’ve always believed that healthy relationships involve a degree of sacrifice to be successful. Being happily married for over five years has contributed to this understanding, as both Julie and I are continually learning how to best serve one another. Entering the realm of parenthood, however, has given me a whole new perspective on what means to sacrifice for someone else’s well being. You see, in marriage, individuals, while benefiting from the sacrifice of their spouse, are not totally dependent on that sacrifice for survival. We still have the freedom to be independent in areas of our lives (or at least we think we do!). This doesn’t mean we aren’t dependent on our spouse’s sacrifice, but that we can choose (for better or worse) if we are going to allow the other’s sacrificing love define who we are. Infants, however, don’t have the luxury of choosing their dependence on the sacrifice others. Their very survival depends on the sacrifice of their parents—the conscious choice to put your child’s needs above your own. As a new father, I find this new responsibility to sacrifice for my child both a great burden (am I willing to sacrifice enough for my son’s well being?) as well as a great honor (I have the privilege of influencing the identity of this little person). I anticipate the days, months, and years ahead of wrestling with how my son’s life is dependent on my sacrifice as his dad and humbly pray for the strength to appropriately place Landon’s life before my own.

This notion of a child’s dependence his parent’s sacrifice has got me thinking. Tt challenges our understanding of dependence in our lives. In terms of a baby, it’s easy to focus on their physiological dependence on their parents for survival, which obviously diminishes as they grow and mature and develop the ability to care for themselves. Character development, however, is harder to measure. When do we stop being dependent on others, such as our parents, for the shaping of our identity? Or do we require on ongoing dependence on others—dependence not unlike that of an infant and their parent—to help direct us along the path of who we truly are? Major life decisions, traumatic experiences, and simple day-to-day events bring a complexity to our lives that can be overwhelming to process if walked alone. Trying to make sense of our role as individuals in this complex world is a burden no isolated individual, in my opinion, can truly grasp. Belief in such autonomous freedom, quite simply, is an infantile fantasy. And so I think we are too hasty in associating age with independence, failing to see that our well being, like that of an infant, is dependent on the sacrifice of others for survival. As others sacrifice for us by walking alongside us and speaking wisdom into our experiences, our role is to accept our ongoing dependence on these people—the reality, in a way, that we never completely grow up.

Oh, and here’s a picture of Landon (Cuteness makes my sacrifice as a father so much easier!):


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