Making sacrifices is sometimes good … but balance and compromise is even better
By Anne Jones, spiritual healer and co-creator of ‘Artaban The Musical’
It’s strange where we sometimes get our messages and insights. I have had ‘AHA’ moments in the strangest of places – on a mountain in Tibet where I learnt how important it is to value what I have otherwise it will disappear; in a church in Pondicherry, India where I realised that I had spent my life trying to please other people and more recently when writing the songs for a new musical, Artaban.
My latest insight came through the story of Artaban, written by the poet and philosopher,Henry van Dyke, in his book The Fourth Wise Man. My friend Daphne and I decided to turn his book into a musical and I took the role of writing the words of the songs. In Henry’s story Artaban was the fourth magi who wished to give gifts and support to Jesus, the prophesied new king.
Unfortunately, Artaban missed his rendezvous with the other three wise men because he was delayed helping a man in trouble at the side of the road. By the time he reached Bethlehem the family had moved on to Egypt. The next 30 years of his life was dedicated to his search for the man he believed would save the world from the evil and corruption that pervaded. However, he was constantly delayed and side-tracked from his quest by his own compassionate heart and his desire to help anyone he met who was suffering or in need. He put the needs of others first and sacrificed his own dream. He even gave up the great love of his life in his desire to travel free and unencumbered by family and domestic ties.
Although, he got great pleasure helping others he struggled with his disappointment and the depression that came with self-doubt and the feeling that he had failed – failed to fulfil his personal promise to himself to help Jesus to improve the world. He eventually did catch up with Jesus but at the time of his crucifixion. This was when he had his ‘AHA’ moment! He realised that maybe he had fulfilled his role of helping to bring light to the world by his kindness to others. We leave him at the end of the show with understanding and joy as he realised that he had in fact fulfilled his life quest and purpose. A happy ending indeed.
My own personal insight came from the truth of the story that so many of us sacrifice our dreams for the sake of those we love and, often for total strangers! A few weeks ago, I watched everyday folk suffering intense pain as they pushed themselves through their limits to run a marathon to raise money, most often for complete strangers. As I write, an ex-marine is putting himself through agonies as he runs, swims and cycles; he has one arm and no legs. An incredible feat all to help people he doesn’t know.
I can see that sacrifice and suffering for others is an essential part of the very spirit of being human. But my insight takes me further. I think of the many who are caring for parents with dementia, of mothers who put their careers on hold to bring up their children, of men who turn to their domestic responsibilities and leave their dreams and adventures on the shelf. They become sad and downhearted. I can see that too much sacrifice can dim our light. It can bring on resentment, it can, like Artaban, make us feel a failure when judging ourselves against the achievements of others. It can cause depression and mental illness.
So, check …• Are you sacrificing your life dream because of responsibilities to other people?• Do you put other people’s needs before your own – consistently?
Like Buddha, I am a great believer in the Middle Road. Of Compromise. Of Balance. When you do too much, give too much of yourself away, put others before yourself all the time, you are in danger of suffering mental health issues: depression, disappointment, lack of self-esteem, unfulfillment and a sense of being limited.
I cared for my mother through the last years of her life and I learnt then that I needed to keep myself happy, stimulated, and healthy (mind and body) so that I could be the best for her and myself.
Here are a few pointers to help you if you are finding yourself overwhelmed by your responsibilities and sacrificing too much of yourself for the sake of others. • Always find time for your very favourite pastime. Whether you enjoy cinema, travelling, reading, gaming, sport etc. – whatever it is that turns on your mojo, make sure you find some time for it. • Allow your emotions to flow. When you are caring for someone or spending the majority of your time looking after the needs of others (and I include children here too) there will be times when your frustrations can turn to anger or resentment – so make sure you vent these feelings. Do it away from other people, scream into a stone and hurl it or write down your feelings and burn the paper. Get it out!!!• Say no! You step into sacrifice when you insist on saying yes when you are screaming ‘no more’ inside. If you persist in taking on more and more you will become sick! • Get help. Don’t feel you have to carry the whole burden on your own shoulders. You may help others to grow if you spread the load – especially in the home. Children who are brought up to help rather to be freeloaders become better partners, better friendsand better citizens. They will also have a greater sense of self-esteem by being included in the family domestic workload. Mother does not need to do it all! Being a martyr is not trending. Allow others to share. • Find time for your Dream. Even if you get up early in the morning or work late into the night do try to fulfil your own dream. Maybe plan it now for action later but give it some attention and keep the flame alive within you.
Finally, make sure you keep your lifestyle in balance, giving and receiving, work and play, helping others and helping yourself. I believe that love is the key to happiness and balance is the key to contentment.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anne Jones is a spiritual healer, author of seven books translated into 18 languages, and co-creator of ‘Artaban The Musical’ which is based on the book ‘The Fourth Wise Man’ by Henry van Dyke.
For more information about ‘Artaban The Musical’ (and to listen to some of the original music) see: https://artabanthemusical.co.uk/
To book tickets: https://actorschurch.ticketsolve.com/shows/873618294
ABOUT ARTABAN THE MUSICAL
‘Artaban’ is a new rock musical, based on the book “The Other Wise Man” by Henry van Dyke. It’s a story, full of heart and soul, that is set over 2000 years ago, and yet is still relevant today. This is not the Jesus story, rather it is the tale of an unsung hero who sacrifices his dreams to help others, set against the backdrop of the birth of Christ.
The showcase of ‘Artaban The Musical’, debuts this November (2021) in Covent Garden.
Where: The Actors Church, St Paul’s, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9ED
When: 23 Nov 2021, 19.30 and 24 Nov 15.30 & 19.30
Available from: https://actorschurch.ticketsolve.com/shows/873618294
Production by: Gemstone Productions Ltd