I hoped my wince went unnoticed.
But then I realized I was dealing with one of the most perceptive, most eagle-eyed people God ever created; my wife Joan. And so of course… she saw the wince as soon as it happened.
And in that same moment I came face-to-face with a persistent, uncomfortable truth about myself.
Namely that I don’t share well. At all.
Hers was a perfectly reasonable request. I was sitting there at the table with Joan, eating and enjoying a luscious, ripe apple.
She then calmly reached out her hand and said, “Let me have a bite.”
And I winced.
I winced because my first gut response to my wife’s request was, “NO! I don’t want to give you a bite of my apple! I have every one of these bites mapped out in my mind and I intend to enjoy every single one of them!”
What a schmoe! I mean, who doesn’t give their spouse – or even an unrelated total stranger for that matter – a small morsel of food if they ask for it?
Which compels me to confess: sharing has been a problem for me for a long time… especially when it comes to sharing food. Sometimes I think I must sound like those seagulls in the movie Finding Nemo continually screaming, “MINE! MINE! MINE!”
And when my sweet wife asks me why I am so singularly bad at this simple human practice, my stock answer is, “Because I was the oldest of five kids! I had to fight tooth and nail for every mouthful at the family dinner table. It was HELL, I tell you!”
But that’s not completely true. Yes, I was the oldest of five kids growing up. Yes, times were tight now and then. But no, none of us were ever as deprived as I sometimes like to portray.
My stinginess bothers me. And yet, it persists.
It also causes me wonder: is sharing anything like athletic ability… that is, something you’re either born with or not?
Somehow that doesn’t seem right. Surely sharing can be learned, can’t it?
Maybe my problem is that I attach too much importance to the item in question. Maybe – in my feverish and slightly out-of-kilter mind – I imagine that this apple, or this piece of key lime pie, or this book, or this Coca-Cola, or this $20 bill, is the key to my ultimate well being in the world and that letting go of even a small portion of it will do irreparable harm to my soul.
Whatever the case, I am sure my behavior in the matter of sharing is the exact opposite of Christ-like. Because when Jesus sat down and told the people there on the side of the hill, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ … indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things…”(Matt. 6:31-32, NRSV), I’m pretty sure he was talking to me, too.
Actually, he is even a little more direct in Luke’s gospel: “Whoever has two coats must sharewith anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”(Luke 3:11, NRSV).
I really don’t have a good answer for the origins of this personality flaw of mine, but maybe “where it came from” isn’t really the important issue here.
Maybe I just need to ask for your prayerful intervention as I simultaneously implore the Holy Spirit to do a little transformational work on me from the inside.
But I am curious…
- Do you share well?
- Have you always been a good “share-er”, or did you learn it later in life?
- What helped you become better at sharing?