It is a familiar story, I am sure. One sister is playing with toy A, but put it down for a moment in a perceived "safe" location. The other sister comes along and picks it up, but the first sister thinks it is still hers. Who is wrong?
The rules of sharing can be a bit of a gray area. Does it go to the person who had it first? Does the youngest player get priority? Do we place a time allotment on all toys? Perhaps we should break the toy in half? Buy two of everything, and might we finally have some peace around here?!
I have come to realize that the rules they learn about sharing here in our home are also the rules they will follow outside of our home. So if we allow someone who pitches a fit to get a toy, then she learns to make a big fuss every time she wants something. And if we divide up the toys so that each child is the owner of her own play things, then they learn to hang tightly to their possessions. These rules are character-shaping.
I would much rather think that what my children learn about sharing here in our home, when no one else is visiting or watching, doesn't matter. The easiest way to handle any scuffles is to placate or distract or ignore. Here, honey, why don't you play with this instead? But I have to view these arguments as a greater opportunity to build character. Building character apparently takes work.
So what exactly is it I want them to be learning in these arguments over toy animals and plastic kazoos?... in these character building opportunities?
I want them to realize the joy in unselfishness.
I want them to be generous.
I want them to learn that sharing is the way you show love to the people around you.
Then why is it hardest to share with those we love the most?
It isn't just the little hearts that are being refined in this area. You hopefully won't find me screaming at someone else for holding my stuffed animals, so at least there has been progress in my life! We only have trouble sharing things that are really important to us. But I sure do feel possessive over that quiet hour in the afternoon when I get to sit down and check my email. Or the slow way I want to wake up in the morning. Or getting to sit in my special place on the couch. And the thing that can really make my heart boil is if my husband is taking it easy while I am running around picking up every one's messes and cleaning and cooking for the household. My selfish heart doesn't want to give him that quiet space because I am too busy wishing he would give it to me instead. Not the greatest example of sharing.
Today, when I had this quiet moment to myself, a still small voice was whispering for me to spend the moment reading my Bible. No, screamed my self, I don't want to share this time with anyone! Not even God! And there lies the root of the problem.
But I listened. I gave the first fruits of my quiet time to God. And it was God who gave back to me as I emerged from the time filled with the joy of sharing, ready once again to be a living example of it in my home.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."