I have a 13 year old son who is in seventh grade. He amazes and frustrates me all at the same time. And, much to his chagrin, he brings me to tears often, and not because of frustration or disagreement, most often it is the result of amazement and pride.
Cole has decided he wants to be a musician. I am in full support of his dreams and I love to hear him play his instruments. Cole also set his sights on a school for the arts that is located here in Orange County. After his first year of auditioning and not receiving acceptance we had to talk through a reset. Cole had, admittedly, emotionally removed himself from his current school because he had an expectation that he would be admitted. When he was not admitted, he had to re-engage in his current school community and the flow of his life and schedule.
Cole did just that. He has gone all-in at his current school as a seventh grader. And then, after another year of auditioning, he was admitted to the arts school for eighth grade. An awareness has set in both of our hearts that speaks to sacrifice. Had Cole been admitted as a seventh grader, when he expected it, he would have gone easily and not felt any sacrifice or any awareness of the change or transition. Now, as we look toward him attending in the fall, he is experiencing a sense of loss of his current school community and what he has built there. But Cole and I have prayed through each and every decision. The admittance was a gift from God, but it comes with sacrifice.
Maybe anything worth experiencing comes with sacrifice. Maybe, just maybe, we need to receive gifts in the midst of feeling loss to be aware of the beauty of the gift. Maybe sacrifice causes us to put more skin in the game, take things a little more seriously, and consider our motives along the way. Maybe sacrifice is needed to experience the fullness God has for us.
Sacrifice always makes me think of Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross. He went all in, complete skin in the game, but I am sure he felt loss along the way. After all, he was human. His death was the ultimate sacrifice, but I am sure he sacrificed many things along the way, relationships, opportunities, communities, connections, and the list goes on. The challenge may be to not miss the gift or opportunity in the midst of sacrifice and/or loss.
Cole wrote the following last night as extra credit in English. He told me it was about his admittance to the arts school. I, again, cried, in awe and respect, and asked if I could share it. The following is from my son, Cole, unedited.
Opportunity comes like a merchant off the street,
It offers many great promises for very little cost,
But instead with much risk,
Presenting a possibility with a profitable outcome,
Greater than we may ever imagine,
Or it may cost us something much greater,
Fooling us like Lucifer himself,
Tricking and persuading us to give up our prized possessions,
But what do we do,
Pressured into making the choice,
Gamble our possessions for something greater,
In hopes that what goes around comes around,
Or do we back away and let someone else risk it all,
All for either something unbelievable,
Or a curse that is unable to bear.
The offer may come looking very appealing,
It may approach you on a silver platter as a small apple smothered with cascading caramel,
Only to find what is truthfully there when we bite in and risk it,
Will we find the apple is rotten and sour,
Bitter even to look at,
Like a staged paradise,
We enter the pearly gates expecting more grandness,
Only to find the city inside broken with crime,
Rusted with sin,
And riddled with laziness,
And wasted opportunity.
We scramble to find the better option that has presented itself to us,
We ask others,
But they will never truly know the answer and only be able to guess,
Leaving us to face the inevitability of the problem we so horridly neglected,
We may crack under pressure and decide it is not our decision to make,
Only later to find out that we lost a golden opportunity,
We let it slip through our grasp,
Watched it fall away like the precious sand of an hourglass,
Watched it knowing that we could not save it,
Watched it questioning why or why not we were even presented with this decision,
Putting the blame upon others,
But knowing that we are the ones at fault,
Letting it slip away,
Unable to fight for ourselves.
But the next opportunity is where we must take our stand,
Where we must use these experiences to receive something greater,
Where we must appreciate these opportunities,
Though they may be troublesome and tedious,
They could still be one of the greatest things we are presented with,
By His Grace