I give “up”

I belong to a parenting forum where moms often post about the struggles in their lives. The parenting forum is openly Christian, and many times you will hear moms saying that when they struggle with a particular issue, they “offer it up.” Other times, moms will tell other moms to “offer it up” or that they’re “offering something up” on behalf of another person as a kind of prayer.

I also belong to an entirely secular forum, and the members there often post about the struggles in their lives. Many times, you will hear a member saying that he or she doesn’t want to take a particular action, but since it’s the right thing to do, he or she will “suck it up.”

It’s an interesting dichotomy.

For my non-Christian readers, “offering it up” is a Christian way of turning your sufferings into a prayer, based on the admonition in Colossians 1:24 [I] now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the Church. Also in Romans 8:17, And if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.

Essentially, it’s sacrifice-as-prayer. Instead of finding a goat and sacrificing it, you deal with that annoying family member and sacrifice that. If it helps, think of it more like fasting: you sacrifice your enjoyment of a cookie and God counts it as prayer; well, if you offer up your frustration at trying to make your color printer actually print photographs, that can count too.

By comparison, “suck it up” is an admonition to deal with something that has no redeeming value. “Suck it up and go to your sister’s fifth baby shower” has no implication that anyone will benefit from your sacrifice of two hours, plus driving time, plus the cost of a gift. “Suck it up and don’t complain even though the cashier miscounted your change” definitely implies no benefit to anyone.

Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, but I’d like to believe my minor inconveniences have value, not only my major ones. Or that sometimes God hands us the way we need to be praying at this moment. We most likely will never know the results of “offering it up,” but we do know the results of “sucking it up” (that would be resentment) and I’d prefer not to be bitter.

Offering it up also has had two unintended side effects for me: I tend to appreciate the surrounding nice things more (I offer up the stress about my car, but then I appreciate more when someone offers me a ride.) ¬†And also, sometimes I’ve offered up a certain stressful situation only to find the situation evaporates. As if God is saying, “Thanks, but you don’t need to be dealing with that right now.”

It’s the choice we make with our attitudes. I’m not good at consistently choosing the “offer” option, but in my heart, I know which one I prefer.