Three Reasons Why Sharing Your Extra [and Living in Community] is Hard

How many times have you had food in the fridge and it ends up in the garbage?

How many times have you had extra time and it ends up in the garbage?

Yep, me too.

It’s not something to be ashamed of— not eating all of your chicken does not mean you just took a bite away from starving children. Stop that false guilt train before it starts— you know who you are.  We can have extra food and extra time without having extra energy or any sort of prompting to do something about it. What looks like extra time might be very necessary rest time.

We can’t do everything and we were not made to do everything. But, sometimes we DO have the energy or we ARE prompted…yet our extras still end up in the garbage.

And, not because we were feeling especially greedy.

It’s mostly accidental. But, sometimes (if you’re like me) you have a feeling the leftover potatoes you put in an opaque Cool Whip container will be forgotten and grow a furry green blanket by the time it sees the light of day again…as you put it in the fridge for the first time. Sometimes you have a feeling you’re making too much food for dinner. But, inviting people over last-minute or bringing them food feels next to impossible.

Forget giving your last penny—sometimes it’s hard to give the extra.

Sometimes it goes like this:

My mom graciously drove a total of 12 hours to visit me awhile ago. It was the week after her birthday, so I made her a birthday cake. I planned on sending her home with a large chunk of the extra cake, but I forgot.

The next day I stared at two-thirds of a 9×13 cake sitting in a fridge only two people use.

It was a box cake with store-bought frosting and imprecisely cut strawberries— but, the frosting was chocolate and it tasted all right. Each time I saw the cake sitting there, I cringed a little because I knew I needed to do something about it (and that something should not be binge eating). I saw it going down the garbage disposal or filling half of our compost bucket like so much of our extra food does. But, I hate that. I really do.

I wanted and felt I should offer cake to the neighbors— and part of writing this (I wrote the initial drafts before I shared the cake) was to ensure I offered it to them in the end— but, this offering is difficult for me.

My neighbors are pretty great. They have already given me their time, energy, and even shared their food. But, when interacting with someone I haven’t spent a lot of time with I want my acne to be completely covered, my apartment to be very clean, and a guarantee I am not going to seem like a weirdo (like the creepy man on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang who lures the children in with lollipops).  And, I get a feeling akin to stage fright before knocking on someone’s door— whether literally or metaphorically.  I experience a small or huge wave of nerves and anxiety.

My insecurities and anxiety make it SO easy to ignore the small and seemingly simple promptings of the Spirit, like— offer the neighbors your extra cake.

I know, I know, I know. It’s so small! It’s cake!  I’m willing to die for Christ…but, am I willing to give my cake away when He tells me to? I feel a little ridiculous even typing that, but it was a very real question. The larger:

Am I willing to be an active member of my community and share?

Here are a few reasons why this is hard:

1- Vulnerability

I may need to interact with others before I put makeup on or invite people over for dinner before I have time to thoroughly clean my apartment. I need to be vulnerable and allow people to see me/my life in ways I hadn’t planned. I need to remember that outward appearance is not what matters.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. -1 Peter 3:3-4

2- Flexibility/Submission

Doing something I hadn’t planned on requires flexibility and relinquishing of control. My plans and desires cannot become a god— I need to submit to God’s plans. You know the passage in James 4 about plans and how we really aren’t in control? It ends with this:

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. -James 4:17

I’ve always thought about this verse separately from the part about planning— but, it makes sense that the two go together. We can’t let our plans get in the way of doing good we know we ought to do.

3- Energy

As mentioned, knocking on people’s doors to give our extra is not as easy as it sounds (especially for those of us with some amount of anxiety) even when we HAVE some energy in our tanks. It requires us to give our energy to others (ultimately, to God) rather than own desires. Here is the awesome news— we have supernatural power through the Spirit and NO sacrifice made for Christ is a waste, however small! He often changes our desires to His and grants us great joy as we trust in Him.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. -2 Timothy 1:7-9

Vulnerability, flexibility, submission, and giving energy are all so necessary for true community.

I think this is why most people I talk to never connect with people in their apartment complexes— the relational risk doesn’t feel worth it to them.

But, love is always risky, isn’t it?

I’m praying that whoever reads this will be encouraged by the Spirit and the Word— that you will give your last penny when you are called and you will give your extras when you are called— that you will rely on God’s strength in all things…even in acts of obedience and love that seem small.

Peace and Love,