This morning was not so different from our usual.
Breakfast together, cleaning up some spills, dressing my three baby-toddlers, breaking up some sibling squabbles…
It was as we were working through some disagreement over who should be playing with what toy that I tilted my daughter’s little chin so I could see her eyes and tell her gently, “We’ve got to learn to share our toys and each take turns instead of just being selfish.”
Her response nearly made me laugh out loud (and usually I do), but I stifled my laughter so as not to upset the gravity of the moment or to make light of the importance of dealing with sin in our hearts.
She said, with angry, impatient eyes, “I learned to share yesterday!”
Sharing is a boring lesson. She’s heard it before. And it isn’t easy or fun today! But, even though she “learned to share” yesterday, she needs to act on it and practice that today as she interacts with her brothers.
But instantly, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and I heard an echo of my own spirit’s complaint before the Lord. So often I resent having to exercise faith, patience, or selflessness (agh! what mother is not dealing with constant demands on time and energy?!) – usually claiming that “I learned this already!” Why am I in a waiting, holding pattern? Why am I being forced to sacrifice my own “rights” again? Why are You humbling me today when I’ve been through this before?
Maybe sometimes there is more to learn. Or maybe we learned patience or sharing or whatever “it” is before, so that we would be able to be even more patient or selfless in the new battles of today. My little girl learned about sharing before, and maybe even practiced it a bit, but we obviously have a long way to go in actually learning to share.
As I thought over the incident and how to explain to her why we share, how we share, and more importantly – what our heart behind those actions ought to be, I stumbled upon Philippians 2… “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself…becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross…”
Does this sound impossible to anyone else? Maybe especially to a 3-year-old who is less skilled in faking it than older, more polished selfish individuals (like me!?!)? How do you help a child with a wicked heart to set aside their own desires in favor of caring for someone else? It’s humbling, but as her mother I realize my influence only goes so far – she needs God to change her heart and enable it to be Christ-like.
Really being a sharing person takes practice. Repetition. Sacrifice. Intentional, entirely awkward and counter-human-nature selflessness. It’s hard! It requires more than a quick pep talk and one simple correct action to really learn to share. Sharing and being consistently selfless requires dependence on the Lord and constantly walking in the Spirit. I desire to see my children – and myself – become so practiced in obedience to Christ that it is almost muscle-memory. Like shooting a free-throw can become for a basketball player. I want faith to be my automatic response to any trying situation.
So, dear Kaya, you “learned to share” yesterday, but you and Mama are still learning, and working out our salvation “with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in us to will and to work for His good pleasure.” I’m sure the Lord (and your 2-year-old brother!) will give us occasion again soon to exercise Christ-like obedience and selflessness.