Thanks for sharing your bear, Brie!

Grace: Age 2 years, 2 months
Sharing bearGrace sat cheerfully in her car seat making a little stuffed bear dance, while fourteen –year-old Brianna (or “Brie”) smiled watching her.
“This is my bear!” Gracie announced.

Brianna laughed at her; “No, that’s my bear… silly!”

Gracie laughed and continued to play with Brie’s bear until we reached her front door. As Brianna gathered up her things, Grace handed back the bear and without prompting said: “Thanks for sharing your bear, Brie!”

Brianna smiled like that was the cutest thing she ever heard, and Doug and I looked at each other like a minor miracle had occurred.

Why?

Because Grace is two, and two year olds generally have tantrums when it’s time to give over something they want to keep.

I have to admit I was wondering whether Grace would have a fit when it was time to hand back Brianna’s bear. I was actually bracing myself for it. Yet, Grace surrendered him graciously accepting that it was time to let go.

I wonder: When it is time to let go of something God placed in our lives, how often do we surrender it back to him graciously? We have to remember, God is not “The great taker in the sky.” He is the “Giver of all good gifts.” Everything we have is because God has seen fit to share it with us for a time.

Because Grace is two, and two-year olds don’t generally understand “sharing.”

In this moment we saw the first glimpse of Grace understanding what “sharing” means. It is our fervent prayer that as she grows Grace will begin to understand the deeper implications of sharing—that behind every gift of sharing is an act of sacrifice.

I am 39 years old, and sharing is a concept I still have trouble with for some things… chocolate and money being the top two. If I have a box of Truffles, I might actually give one away, but I will certainly be fighting my internal two-year old, thinking I’d be getting a whole lot more joy from eating it myself! And when it comes to finances I struggle with my selfish nature. Especially in these economic times, I battle my internal two-year old who makes demands for “Me and mine” before giving to Him and His.

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit battles and convicts my rebellious nature. Thankfully, the word of God and His promises sown in my heart remind me constantly that everything I have is a blessing from Him, for “Every good and perfect thing is from above.” (James 1:17) I am meant to enjoy them for a time, but moreover I am called to be a good steward of these gifts. Every time we bless the meal at our home, our prayer is “to be good stewards of our blessings,” because we know everything we have comes from what God has chosen to share with us. As every parent hopes for their child to emulate the example they set, God feels likewise. I think the Lord must get great joy in seeing us enjoy the blessings he has given us; but I imagine He gets even greater joy in seeing us emulate Him by sharing them too.

Because this was the first spontaneous expression of gratitude we had witnessed from Gracie.

Like “sharing,” “thank you” is another one of those difficult concepts for kids to grasp. We have been making Grace say “thank you” for almost a year now, but the moment with Brie’s bear was when we knew she understood what it meant to be grateful for something, even something she had to let go.

Are we truly thankful to God for what He shares with us? To be really grateful means thanking God for everything in our lives, even the things we have to let go. “Give thanks in all things for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

We are called to be grateful in ALL things; even the things we don’t think are so great! So in our house we give thanks for our dry leftovers, because our leftovers are a king’s banquet compared to how most of the world eats. We are grateful for the tension of managing a tight budget, because it teaches us self-discipline and dependence on God. We even give thanks for our current stink-bug infestation—we don’t know why, and some days we feel like we are in the midst of an Old-Testament insect plague, but God had a reason for those, and there’s a reason for these! So we thank the Lord for stink bugs, even as we vacuum them up each day.

There is more than a little miracle of growth in this moment.

This was also a moment of realization for Doug and me. We are laying the rudimentary foundations for important spiritual concepts with Grace. We are prayerful that she will continue to grow and inculcate the deeper spiritual implications of these concepts, because for most of us, somewhere along the way we lose that basic child-like understanding of things like sharing and gratitude. (Why else would I horde my truffles?) We need to be reminded constantly of that fact so eloquently coined by Robert Fulgum: “All I ever really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten.”

Proverbs says: Train a child up in the way he should go and when he is old he will not swerve from it. (Proverbs 22:6) Is this not also the way of our spiritual walk? We are always in “training” exercising our spiritual muscle until we reach the point where one more of God’s spiritual concepts transforms from an abstract concept in “training” to a fully realized self-discipline.

We might grow up, but we never finish maturing. It’s easy to get caught up in ourselves, and get our “grown up” priorities mixed up. That’s why we need God. That’s why we need childlike faith, and simple reminders to live up to Jesus’ call to “Love my neighbor as myself.” That’s why we need moments like this, from out of the mouths of babes— to remind us of things like: “Thanks for sharing your bear, Brie!”

Reminders to give thanks… Reminders to share, because so many blessings have been shared with us… His extravagant LOVE foremost among them!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mary January 27, 2011 at 7:20 pm

I am not at the point of giving thanks to God for stink bugs. However, it is very cool that she is latching onto the idea of sharing, and giving back at her age. You must be doing something right!

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