Anytime we love someone, we will eventually be compelled us to make a selfless sacrifice. Very often, the sacrifice will be an ongoing aspect of the relationship. We see this everyday in married couples working to provide for their children, caring for aging parents or even caring for their own spouse. Those selfless, sacrificial acts are a beautiful and powerful expression of love.
My parents raised us in a home where this was modeled. Mom and Dad loved us and their actions showed that there was nothing on earth they weren't willing to sacrifice if it meant helping us have something that we needed.
My parents are very financially successful today, but there was a time when I was around five years old and my two younger brothers were three and barely one when my family was very poor. The economy was terribly and my parents, like many parents, were struggling to make ends meet.
One day, Dad came home and found Mom crying. She is a very tenderhearted woman, but she almost never cries, so Dad knew something was very wrong. He asked what was the matter and through her tears, she said, "There's no milk and there's no money to buy more milk."
My parents, who are two of the hardest-working and most resourceful people on the planet found themselves looking into the eyes of a crying baby and felt the desperation of not knowing how to provide for his most basic need. Dad started looking through the house for any spare change, but there was none to be found. There was simply nothing.
Dad had a thought and rushed into his bedroom. He opened his sock drawer and pulled out two, shiny silver dollars. They had been given to him by his Great Grandmother when he was a young boy. They were all he had left of her memory, but despite their great sentimental (and possibly even great financial) value, in that moment, their only value was that they represented meeting a need for the people he loved.
Without hesitation, Dad walked to the store, grabbed a gallon of milk and slapped those two silver dollars on the counter.
That's what love looks like.
I told that story in a sermon at church recently and my parents happened to be sitting down in the crowd. I got to the end, and found myself gripped by emotion as I reflected on a lifetime of love and support I've received from them both. I looked down and saw that they were crying too. I told them I loved them.
I looked up and saw that most everyone else was now crying. Most people look really ugly when they cry. I certainly do. My "Cry Face" looks like something out of a horror movie, but this, undoubtedly, was a beautiful moment.
It's funny to think that a two-dollar purchase of some milk could cause a ripple effect that would be inspiring people three decades later, but that's how love works. Those sacrifices we make, both big and small, for the ones we love make a lasting impact. The milk may expire quickly, but the love lasts forever!
This article was originally published on Patheos. It has been republished here with permission.