November 6, 2009

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Whether we are 2 or 92, we all have something to share

Patti LambLast week at the library, my 2-year-old daughter bolted to the train table in the children’s section. It was unique not to see children huddled around the table. Typically, there’s only elbow room if you’re lucky.

My daughter had the trains all to herself, and she reveled in it. She didn’t even have to fight off her older brother, who was at school. Carefully steering the trains through the tunnels, she paid attention not to get the wheels off the rails.

But soon a nearby observer wanted in on the fun. The newcomer, a boy about 2, toddled up to the table.

My daughter stood at the tracks holding all three of the trains. She could barely contain them in her chubby little hands.

“There are enough to go around,” I said to myself.

“C’mon, do the right thing,” I coached her from my mind. I hoped she would remember the sharing sermon that I preached to her and her brother earlier that morning after the Pop Tart incident.

“Mine!” my daughter yelped. Not only did she refuse to share, but she clenched the trains to her chest and made a bee line for the exit.

I squatted to discipline her, trying to keep Super Nanny’s tips at the forefront of my mind.

“We’re working on sharing,” I said apologetically to the little boy’s mother, hoping she wouldn’t write me off as a total motherly mess-up.

I phoned my sister from the library parking lot for a short-order pep talk.

“I think I’m quite possibly raising the world’s stingiest child,” I told her. I recounted the train episode. My sister reminded me that my daughter is 2 and that this is just a ‘stage.’”

Later that night when going through the mail, I came upon a letter notifying us of a significant increase in one of our expenses. I was miffed, to put it mildly. I hadn’t budgeted for the increase, and this would drain a healthy portion of our Christmas budget.

“Yikes, maybe it’s not just a stage,” I thought to myself. At 30-something, I still haven’t outgrown the impulse to hoard.

I needed to remind myself that nothing is really “mine.” Everything belongs to God, and ownership should really be transferred accordingly.

In that same stack of mail were several appeals from charities and missions desperately in need of life’s bare necessities for the poorest of the poor. I imagined God looking on and wishing the same thing I did earlier that morning at the library: Share.

I knew that tithing was the right thing to do. But my human nature wallowed in insecurity and haunted me with headlines: “More jobs cut, salaries reduced.”

Then I remembered a wise friend who once counseled me to give, even when I don’t think I can. He sent me a passage from a wonderful book titled God Calling, which reads: “Pay all out in the spirit of trust that more will come to meet your supply. To hold back, to retain, implies a fear of the future, a want of trust in Me.” This is the Law of Divine Supply.

As Thanksgiving draws near and we reflect on God’s bountiful blessings, I think it’s also important to remember that we are called to bless others, whether that is with our time, talent or treasure.

Whether we are 2 or 92, we all have something to share.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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