We think of sacrifice as negative. It means giving up something important. Miriam Webster* even says it is a synonym for abandon (and betray!) which also has a negative contemporary meaning.
But sacrifice actually come from the 13th century Latin word Sacrificuim with the root Sacer which is related to the obsolete verb sacren meaning, “to make holy.”
Latin also brings us sacrare: “to make sacred, consecrate; hold sacred; immortalize; set apart, dedicate,”
In Old French, we find sacrer: “consecrate, anoint, dedicate” somewhere around the 12th century.
We also know that in cultures other than imperialized colonial western ones, sacrifice is still considered holy. Whether it be an ritual involving animals or people or the telling of an old tale of sacrifice is often considered a holy and necessary act.
So why is it different when we (I’m speaking about the West now) talk about sacrifice? When it comes to work? Our relationships? Where has the holiness gone? There is so much guilt and fear attached to sacrifice here, as well as unhealed feelings about what we might be missing. Instead, let us make make the Act of Sacrifice about the holy thing we’ve chosen. Let us keep in mind why we’ve decided to sacrifice in the first place. (And if you don’t know why, then what the eff are you doing? Find out or drop the thing.).
Sacrifice is, after all, a natural part of life. Things come and go. Things must be cast aside, released, unleashed. People, places, things, animals must be disappointed, sometimes devastated by the other thing we have chosen instead.
So this is how you make a sacrifice: You honor what you are giving up by living fully in the presence of what you’ve chosen. You make your focus holy by giving it your full attention so that all people involved are better for the decision.
There is better alignment with Life here.
If you’re struggling with a choice you made, try this exercise to help clarify your position and give you confidence to move forward.
The 3 Steps of Sacrifice
Δ Write down why you chose to make the sacrifice. Put it somewhere you look often.
Δ Set an intention for your sacrifice. What do you intend for it do for you? Write it down and put it somewhere you look often.