I’ve read a couple of rather good quotes this week, both of them concerning love and sacrifice.

The first was posted by a man I met while working on Nauru. Steve worked with immigration and he posted this quote by Randy Skeete on Facebook: “Love exists by sacrificing itself, self exists by consuming others.”

The second one I found on the second last page of the latest novel I’ve been reading, ‘Beautiful Ruins’ by Jess Walter: “…true sacrifice is painless.”

When I find the same theme cropping up in my life I always tune in my personal antennae. Often it means that I have something to write, even when I think I have nothing to say!

These two quotes reminded me of a prayer I prayed 3 years ago in the midst of a difficult time in a new friendship. I asked God to show me how to love my friend sacrificially.

Immediately two phrases popped into my mind:

The first was to allow my friend to live life as they chose; and the second was not to ask more of my friend than they could give.

These were challenging words because I had expectations of this friend, expectations of this friendship. Often these expectations were unknown to me until my friend did something I didn’t like, or more often, didn’t do something that I wanted them to do. However, learning to do friendship with these two phrases guiding me has got me to point where I don’t have to consciously choose to live like this; it’s just natural now. But it wasn’t for such a long time.

Often I would struggle with why my friend was acting as they did and God would reminded me to just accept them as they are, with all faults and failings.

I learnt that to do so is to really love sacrificially.

Which brings me back to the two quotes from this week. True sacrifice is painless because it always springs from love, and love covers so much. I can happily sacrifice my expectations of my friend because of the love I have for them. This sacrifice is painless because love exists by sacrificing itself; there is no other way.

Centuries ago an elderly man reflected on the three short years he’d spent with Jesus; three years in which he’d learnt a lot about God by looking at Jesus. At the end of his life John wrote, “God is love.”

Three simple words. Three profound words. God loves us so much he readily allows us to live life as we choose, for better or worse. God loves us so much that he never asks more of us than we can give. God loves us so much that although it cost Jesus his life, in the most excruciating way, he could do it because he knew that love only really exists by sacrificing itself; that true sacrifice is painless.