The Plight of the Modern-day Martyr

by | Apr 2020

A mother talks on the phone while feeding her three children


Do we “modern martyrs” lack a grand mission?

Sage elders say, “Take comfort in the uneventful, it prepares you for what’s to come.”

Too many of us are martyr wannabes, biting off more than we can chew—volunteering or refusing to let party dinners be potluck—only to feel frayed and possibly resentful later. We corner our loved ones for a thorough debrief on our saintliness, hoping that our sacrifices will be lauded. Often, self-pity follows when the accolades fall short.

My excuse? The job wouldn’t get done (or, at least not properly). Like when kids need to learn a great work ethic, but you know they won’t do the job right and you’re tempted to just do it yourself.

It’s hard to avoid the temptation to strive toward a glorified soul. If the ulterior motives to do good are not selflessly authentic; warm fuzzy feelings may be short lived.

We modern day martyrs may lack a grand mission—our deeds might be to gain a sense of connection and fulfillment. But, if we take so much on, what do we end up giving away?

Maybe a modern-day martyr gives it all and ends up not even being recognized. We take our children to basketball practice, help with homework, cook, clean and give all our time to them; now that’s a selfless servant, a true martyr for the cause.

Margaret Wachholz is the campus marketing director at Woodbury Senior Living. In her column, she shares observations and wisdom about aging and senior living in our community.


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