"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable...Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle, the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

In my 46 years, nothing has come easy for me.  At birth, I was pulled from my mother's womb with tongs!  Even the gifts I was born with have not come without a struggle attached to them.  I have known that, for me, to live out what I was created for, will only come with surrendering something for the sake of something or someone else.

My beloved husband, Thomas, and I live in a state of constant sacrifice.  Nothing has come easy for us in our marriage, in our family, or in our work.  We have a vision of what we want our lives to be and where we want to go, but even more so, a longing for who we want to be as individuals on the earth.  It comes with a high price as does any great vision.  The bottom line? If we are going to live out what we believe we are called to, we will have to endure hardships, and we will have to sacrifice things we don't want to. Sacrifice comes with a surrendering of your will. It is not always to gain something monetary in return.  Sometimes, it is purely for the good of another, but it will always produce good character in our lives.

Tom and I have been apart more than we have been together. Tom serves in the United States Army as an Officer.  I knew that if I chose to be with him I would have to lay down my life too and walk with him through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Together, we bleed the red white and blue. 

There are plenty of times we have wanted to quit and walk away because it seemed too hard and maybe there was another path that wouldn't be so painful.  Sacrifice is going to be uncomfortable.  You will not be able to avoid it.  In the midst of your sacrifice, it will sometimes feel like sand paper on your unbroken skin. There will usually always be more than one thing at a time that you have to give up especially if you are reaching to attain more than one goal at a time.  For us, our goals intertwine with one another.  They produce a win/win for everyone even though it doesn't feel like it at the time.  The one who has to sacrifice will be the one that will later be able to understand perseverance, and hope to a much greater level than those who don't.  We all will make mistakes along the way, but through our failed attempts, when we get back up, and keep moving forward, we will be able to lead, encourage, and show the way where others may be paralyzed by fear.

What vision do you have in your life that you are ready to sacrifice for?  Is your vision to have a closer family? Could it be a dream of what you feel called to do that keeps you up at night?  What things in your life are you ready to lay down for the sake of someone or something greater than yourself?  If you do not have a vision or plan, but long for one, what are you willing to give up to seek a more fulfilled life? 

There is a deep immeasurable hope and joy that comes with sacrifice.  Tom and I have learned to live in the joy of letting go for the sake of what comes later.  This joy is what holds our feet to the fire.  We have a great hope that stays with us when we weep and long for one another. And if something were to happen to one or both of us and we do not get to see the dreams fulfilled together, this hope will still not disappoint us. Even alone, we will continue to pursue our purpose here on the earth until the after life.  

"There once was a king who sacrificed everything, even his own life, to save the people..." 

AshliDawn Bradshaw