I was standing with my hands in a sink of soapy water when Caden wandered into the kitchen.
“Mommy, is it hard for you, too?”
“Is what hard for me?”
“Is it hard for you to share?”
My mama ears were pleasantly surprised because earlier that morning, we had been rehearsing the appropriate “play-date behavior,” and I was doubtful that his distracted, 3 year-old ears had heard any of the words coming forth from my mothering mouth.
So what were the words I had shared earlier in the morning concerning proper play-date etiquette?
“Son, please don’t be a selfish monster who takes your toys hostage and whines the entire time about the one, random toy your friend is playing with that you have not played with or cared about for 13 weeks. Please don’t be ridiculous; please don’t be rude; please don’t cause a ruckus; please don’t run our friends away; and please, PLEASE don’t ruin my time talking with his sweet Mama!”
“Remember, we need to be good hosts this morning and be kind to our friend. We need to share our toys; put his needs first; make good choices; and use gentle words.”
“Yeah, Mommy, yeah. I know, I know.”
Umm…when did he turn 13?!?! And since when does he “know?”
So when he had come back to me over an hour later and asked if I, too, had a hard time sharing, I was slightly astounded and answered with the first thing that came to mind.
“I sure did, buddy. When I was little, I used to have an entire collection of horse figurines that I would hide in my closet when my friends came over. I was so afraid they would ruin them and mess them up, so I never wanted anyone to play with them. Yep, sharing was hard for me, too.”
My empathetic response seemed to satisfy his wondering mind because he simply said, “Yeah, sharing is hard,” and then ran straight to his room.
Though I was semi-worried that my childhood disclosure had incited a toy-hiding, closet-hoarding adventure for my own son, there were a bunch of dishes (Do dishes multiply over night if not done right after dinner??? I think mine do!!) that still needed a good washin’ before our anticipated play-date.
As I continued on with the washin’, it dawned on me (no pun intended…I use Palmolive) that I had answered my son’s present-tense question with a past-tense response.
He hadn’t asked, “Mommy, was it hard for you, too?”
He had asked, “Mommy, is it hard for you, too?”
Though I was fairly sure he wasn’t worried about my erroneous reply nor doubting my ability to comprehend grammar tenses, I didn’t want him believing that little people are the only ones who have sharing struggles.
For goodness sake, I’m 31, and I still struggle with sharing!
Though I’m fairly confident that his little mind wasn’t able to grasp all that I divulged in the kitchen that morning, I amended my answer.
I struggle with sharing my free time.
I struggle with sharing my food.
I struggle with sharing myself.
I struggle with sharing my house.
I struggle with sharing my abilities.
I struggle with sharing my love with those who are unkind.
I struggle with sharing the attention and praise.
Suffice to say, my 3 year-old is not the only one who struggles with sharing.
And as I’ve been thinking off and on about that kitchen conversation from last week, I’ve come to two conclusions about why sharing is hard for me.
One: Sharing is hard for me because it involves giving up ME, MY, MINE, and I.
Two: Sharing is hard because sharing is unnatural for the natural self.
The natural self (our sinful flesh) puts me, my, mine, and I first, but the unnatural self (the Spirit-governed soul) puts her, him, them, and they first.
Paul affirms this idea of the natural and unnatural self in his letter to the Church of Galatia when he says, “For the desires of the flesh [the natural self] are against the Spirit [the unnatural self], and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Galatians 5:17
In short, it’s hard for my flesh to do what the Spirit wants me to do.
But does the Spirit really care about me sharing?
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13:16
“They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.” 1 Timothy 6:18
“And He answered them, ‘Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.’ ” Luke 3: 11
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness [sharing is kind], goodness [it is good to share], faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… Galatians 5:22-23
Yep, I’d say the Spirit cares a whole lot about sharing. But how does my natural self do this unnatural thing?
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11
The answer is quite simple, Jessica…
The same Spirit that calls you to share is the same Spirit that empowers you to share.