I was excited. I was excited to go shopping for my own self, and I was excited to be able to give some to the Friendship Room. We’d been having a very lean Spring, without much wiggle room for ourselves or anybody else. I bought us milk, and electrical tape to fix the air conditioner, and then I bought snacks to take downtown for Molly and her wonderful guests. I felt rich– richer by far than if I’d spent the full amount on myself.
When I was younger, I thought that self-sufficiency was the best thing. It was the thing that would finally make me a grown-up. Someday I would have my own house, my own car, an income that covered everything I needed and most of what I wanted; I would live in a nice little suburb where everyone’s house looked like everyone else’s, and be a burden to no one. I thought self-sufficiency was what everyone ought to strive for– to be their own, self-made people, living isolated in perfect little houses and a burden to no one.
I have found a far more excellent way.
God is famously unimpressed by grown-ups. He wants us to be children. And what do we teach our children to do? We teach our children to share. In sharing, we are dependent on one another.
Interdependence is better than independence. No human being is truly independent anyway– we start out inside a human’s body and depend on her for everything. Eventually, we’re squeezed out, in a torturous process that almost always involves a lot of assistance. We depend on people to feed and care for us, to teach us, to love us, until we’re big enough to take on some of that responsibility of feeding, caring for, and loving others. We might have the illusion of self-sufficiency then, but of course we’re not really self-sufficient. We need a community of people, from friends and neighbors to doctors, construction workers and taxi drivers, to help us live our lives. Then, after awhile, we grow old and weak again, and need much more help from other people just as we did when we were children. This is the way God made us on purpose– and that’s a good thing.God is infinite, and no one can express everything that God is. But one of the things He has revealed about Himself is that He is a sort of community– three Persons eternally pouring out love to one another. Human interdependence is one of the ways in which we are created in the image and likeness of the Holy Trinity.
That’s why sharing what we have with our neighbor is so important.
Sharing is what we teach our children, but it’s not childish; it’s Godly.
This is what draws me to the charity practiced at The Friendship Room. It’s not a grand scheme, some exciting form of social engineering to get the poor back on their feet. It’s not about creating some kind of independence that nobody really has anyway. It’s about sharing. They share what they have with whoever drops by, and in doing so they manifest the love of God to them. That love is so simple, it seems like a small thing– but it’s everything. In that love, everything can change. Lives, hearts, communities can be healed in ways you wouldn’t imagine, once someone has shared what they have with love.
I don’t know if I’ll ever have a nice cookie-cutter house in a suburb and a lavish income. It would be nice. But whatever happens to me, I know I won’t be self-sufficient because nobody is. I will be a part of a community. People will help me, and by the grace of God I’ll be able to help them out of what I’ve been given. And that will be much better.
Christians ought to share whatever gifts we’ve been given, great or small, with others– and everything we have is a gift. Imitate the Holy Trinity in sharing your gift. A loaf of bread, a meal, clothing, shelter, a million dollars, a bag of change for the vending machine, a package of cookies–whatever you have, share some of it with others. Share time. Look up from your phone and share your attention with someone who needs attention. Share a passion or a talent of yours, like painting or reading aloud. Share a joke. Share your story. Share your grief.
And while you’re at it, allow someone the opportunity to share with you.
This is a Godly thing.
(image via Pixabay)