The Art and Language of Sacrifice

Raised in a Pentecostal church, the word sacrifice seemed to be tossed around every Sunday, looming like a collection plate. It was that thing you knew you had to do but no one really taught you what it meant. Sure, you had several examples: fasting every Wednesday; 10% of your earnings were tithed; a steady prayer life. All these things were to bring you closer to God, were glorious sacrifices that helped better your walk with Him. But what was it? Why was this even a thing?

I’ve known sacrifice my whole life, and eventually concluded it to be a lonely word and very burdensome. But lately I find myself revisiting language–those plain words that I take for granted–and exploring the new ways I’ve grown to interact with it.

Sacrifice: “the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone”.

As a growing artist, the word hustle has appropriately taken the place of sacrifice. In a song by J. Keys, he says

“We do it for the love, so we hustle.”

In one lyric, he was able to capture the essence of religion, art, passion, love…everything. The sacrifice is what allows love to be held, to be had. The word sacrifice is the labor. Love is the delicious fruit. This daunting word isn’t something to be feared, but approached with reverence. For without proper sacrifice, without that hustle, where would we be? Who would we be?

My great grandmother immigrated to Brooklyn, NY from Jamaica too many years ago. With no job waiting for her, with a family back home to provide for, there was no excuse greater than her love. And she knew her sacrifice would pave a way. At 88 years old, she passed away last Thanksgiving and left her family a house, fully paid for. My great grandmother was not an artist, but her #lovehustle and sacrifice taught me that it isn’t about what you are giving up; sacrifice is all about what you want.

If you sacrifice with no clear goal or intention set forth, if you are dedicated to no particular vision, you will always be burdened by the task. You don’t want the reward, it’s just something to be to be expected. Never expect the love. Love is something that is earned, worked for.

There are things we must choose to hold onto, and in the process of preserving, we find other things we don’t need begin to fall away. Our human-like nostalgic nature is what makes us look back at the things we left behind, and still want to hold onto them. But it’s important to realize that we lose things on the way to who we want to be. The door to the next level gets smaller and smaller, and we must sacrifice to achieve that vision–where we are destined to become our greatest. My sacrifice is how I show up for love. My hustle is my thank-you. Because I want this love to stay, to be comfortable here. There is more than enough of this healthy sacrifice, this #lovehustle, to keep me going.

Written by Mahlaney Wilson