The Things I Hold Dear

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
— Ephesians 5:2

I became a Christian at 17, and I started learning about who Jesus was. One of the most beautiful things about the Gospel is the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made for us-He gave his life so that I could live. It’s mind-boggling. But trying to live sacrificially was a foreign concept. When I moved to New York after college, everyone around me was just scraping by to pay rent and stay here. My first real job only lasted three months, and I remember how many false promises my co-workers gave me about helping me find another job. After six months in the city, it felt like to survive, I had to make sure I was always looking out for number one and had to do whatever I could to make it. Sacrifices? Sharing a basement studio apartment. Eating lots of canned tuna. Working retail. That’s what Jesus would do, right?

Through the next year, it became clear that God had a very different path for my life. Opportunities to do full-time college ministry became available, and I saw people sacrifice their disposable income so that I could meet with NYU and Marymount students and help them walk with Jesus. People sacrificed their time to disciple me and love me. It was during this time that I started going to Trinity Grace Church-then Origins. It was here that I met Teresa Murphy, who moved with her husband, Patrick, to help start the church. She would share her stories of sacrifice to be a part of this church, and over the weeks, I would hear more and more of these stories. It wasn’t just money-it was time and food and space. Singles lived with families in small apartments and shared life together. I was warmly invited into homes, and soon these strangers were family. I started serving at the gathering, and in the early days, things like making breakfast for the band (I didn’t cook) or holding babies (I didn’t like kids) became a regular part of life.

When I got married, my husband, Nick, saw this family and wanted to be a part of it. So he moved here, without a job. I had a four-bedroom apartment, and it seemed logical to fill it with friends to help us to afford the expense of living in New York. So that’s what we did. For several months, Nick’s best friend lived with us, and then Cliff Cunningham moved in. People often asked us it was weird living with people, but the sacrifice of a private apartment was well worth it.  When Nick was asked to play keyboards at the new UES gathering, the trek from Washington Heights seemed well worth it. And soon, we found ourselves living on the UES and being a part of the community there.

And a few years later, we realized that people were having kids and moving because it was too expensive, so we thought-what if we share an apartment with someone who thinks they’ll have kids soon so they can stay? So we did. We moved in with another couple, Josh and Laura LaRock. And soon, we were living with a kid. (Don’t worry-I like her.) Living with another family is a lot of compromises, and waking up in the middle of the night because of a crying baby that isn’t yours is exhausting. But this? This seems more like what we’ve been called to do as followers of Jesus.

Through all of this, I have realized that things I hold dear are usually pretty silly. And the things the world tells me are a sacrifice are nothing compared to the sacrifice Jesus made for us. I know without this church family showing me examples of living lives of sacrifice, I could have just gone on focusing on all of the wrong things. But thankfully, I’ve witnessed the beauty of sacrifice through Christ’s bride, the church.

But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
— Hebrews 9:26b