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  • Writer's pictureJoni Topper

Share – A growing experience

From the time we are children some of the earliest lessons our parents try to teach us have to do with sharing. Share your lunch. Share your toy. Share your crayons.

We progress to Jr high and get assigned to team projects where we are supposed to share our ideas. Share the work. Share interpersonal relationships through language and a cooperative spirit.

Teenagers in my day had to share the phone, share the car, share the hairdryer. Today they must share data. They share their lives on social media which provides superficial “likes” from people who might not ever interact with them face to face. When texting first became a thing, I asked a teenager why they liked to text. His response, “Because it’s impersonal, you can type something you would not say in person.” Does that qualify as sharing in the sense our parents tried to teach us?

As we mature and begin to form more meaningful relationships, we are told to share our joys and sorrows. There is a connection of hearts that occurs instantly and permanently when someone genuinely partakes in our personal joy or sorrow.

A philosophy I profess to believe is that the truth will set you free. As a songwriter, the lyrics from one of my songs contains the phrase, “Jesus is the truth and he will set you free.” The truth Jesus speaks when he reveals my short comings, does not make me feel condemned. It makes me feel loved and noticed and valued for the potential he sees in me. Being recognized by almighty God as worthy of his time and effort is almost unfathomable. He shares his holy thoughts about me.

Often when people speak of my short comings, I feel judged. If sharing of the truth is what I long for, then why is it so hard to hear? Do I fear that acceptance depends on how someone evaluates me? The reason I am not offended by correction from the word of God is because I believe the overriding purpose is for my benefit. The correction comes from love. The foundation of God’s assessment of our behavior is His desire to draw us close. As we get better at sharing, perhaps embracing criticism from people who love us is easier as well. Answer the questions, “Does this person want to draw closer to me? Do they have my best interest in mind?” This will help in knowing what a healthy response looks like when someone is sharing their assessment of your behavior or work.

Does bearing one another’s burdens qualify as sharing? The word share implies there is a give and take. I recently asked several 13-year-olds what they were feeling about the coronavirus pandemic. Each of them had frustrations with loved ones. If we are angry with those we love, how much more taxing will it be to try and understand those we do not know? How will we love those with whom we strongly disagree?

How well we learned those lessons about sharing will influence the answers. Can society share differing ideas and differing beliefs as well as geography? These tests of our sharing skills are going to define us as a people.

God help us share the compassion he extends to us. God help us learn to share empathy with those whose impact from this devastating ordeal looks different than ours. God help us to share our resources, our love and our support before we even think about sharing our criticism.


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