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the meaning of sacrifice

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~ And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

I'm not a Christian but I have struggled my whole life to understand the meaning of "sacrifice", the mystery of the cross, and the human obsession with offering blood (goats, lamb, body parts or whole persons) to atone for our human condition.

Raised by hard-working parents who loved us well but, like many of their generation, reminded us daily that they bore the cost of our privilege and good fortune, I rejected and was unwilling to pass that burden on to my own children.  So in my twenties, I completed a Master's thesis entitled "Le Sacrifice et la Générosité; Réflexion sur Autrui" that skewered the notion of sacrifice in favour of generosity as an act of giving from the feeling of abundance rather than from the pinch of obligation. If this was not love for another, I thought, at least it was not a need for personal atonement.

Still I found myself …

on dry land

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The thing that hurts the most is the injustice.
From the beginning, in response to sharing a vulnerability, a hurt, a need for a kiss, an I-miss-you To be told: You are controlling, demanding, ordering, cornering, complaining… An (always unexpectedly immediate) punch to the belly At your softest
The pain... is dizzying
You catch your breath trying to wrap your head around what’s just happened And start to explain, at first calmly: No that’s not what I meant, that’s not what I said, that’s not how I feel. He's skeptical so you persevere: What I said, what I meant, what I felt was… Trying hard to bridge the gap between you And shed some light on misunderstanding
But like a swimmer swimming against a current stronger than she is The shore gets further away and the water murkier You lose your composure Treading water and drowning in the words Don’t go!  Don’t go!  Don’t go…
He remembers that as the start: your panicked desperation And uses it to justify leaving you alone.
That is the injustice. 
The…