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Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Sunday School Project

HI- My name is Tracey, I am not a Sunday School Project.

I think I should have had a name tag that read something like that, when I first started going to church.

It was a (fairly) small church. Everyone knew everyone (and- everyone's business, on occasion) My Boyfriend (now husband) and his family had been going there for years. Everyone was thrilled that his "missionary dating" experience.. had turned out for the best......(;)

They were genuinely glad- that I wanted to know more about God.

It was a good place- I was able to learn a lot, I could ask questions in classes.... People were friendly, they cared. They weren't as strange as I thought they were- on first meeting them. I even started to like them. ;)

Somewhere along the line- a couple of years into it- actually- after we were married...."it " happened. I became a "Sunday School Project"

Feeling like a "Sunday School Project" is not a good thing. It started simple enough...

Another mom befriended, me. kind of.

We had kids of similar age--- we were the same age...... and although she did possess the holy trinity of feminine jealousy (she was tall, thin AND BLONDE) I liked her.

But, something made me feel like I was her personal "project".

It's hard to explain.

I think it was because it was all about me. We talked about how I was. We prayed about my prayer requests. We studied, to find answers to my questions.....

(It wasn't altogether bad;)

But- it wasn't really a relationship. It was one-way. She was the GIVER. I was the RECEIVER. It almost felt like I, being infinitely less mature, could only be the cup- for her outpouring.

Ok. That's a bit melodramatic. But- the point is- I felt less valuable somehow. And yet- my relationship with Christ- felt, so, well.. NOT that.

I felt valued and loved- and uniquely designed- because of what the Bible said..... but in the relationship with this friend...I there FELT like some spiritual glass ceiling was between us.

Bottom- line- it made me feel like "project" not a person.

I'm not honestly sure, if it was me- the relationship- or her. But something wasn't right.

We had fun. I learned. But that was about it. I called her friend- (and she did the same, I think) but it wasn't that girlfriend, sister- love- thing.

Later- we (My husband and I) changed churches (TOTALLY unrelated) I started to meet new people. They were different. I met women who liked me. They gave to me. Some were older- some the same age- others younger.... This was different. We wondered together- we asked questions- together, we encouraged each other. They received what I had to give---We gave to each other whatever we had to give.

This was sister-love-God stuff.

Looking back, I see a totally different response in me. One set of relationships made me feel like a project, another set made me feel a "part". The only real difference I can see- is in the mutuality of the relationships.

In Mark 12--- a story is told--- about a woman's small offering....

The Widow's Offering

41Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins,[a]worth only a fraction of a penny.[b]
43Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."

Funny- my first instinct, when someone- who I know doesn't have much- wants to give to me--- is to say--- "no, you keep it" I want them to hold onto what they have. Yet, Jesus received the Widows Mite, and did it actually- with respect, and great joy. I wonder how she would have felt or responded- had He rejected it- even if out of concern for her?

Another time- a woman comes to where Jesus is, sits at His feet- and breaks a beautiful expensive box of perfume over them... then- she lovingly wiped them clean with her hair. The disciples got seriously ticked off. They were mad that she had wasted so much--- (they could have sold it on eBay, maybe?) and used the money for ministry..

But- Jesus' response was different. He welcomed her gift. He said it was to prepare Him for His death.. she gave something- and Jesus received it--- and it ministered to Him in preparation for the CROSS!

I've been looking at my relationships- all of them. The ones that are cursory, the ones that are deep. And I'm wondering.... do I make people feel like Sunday School Projects?

I think that God is showing me- that the way we reach out- is thru love. But what is love? Is it giving? Yes. It is. But it's also in receiving. The relationships that have brought me closer to God- have been the ones that were mutual. The ones that felt like we were on a journey together. The ones where whatever I had to give was received. And I received, what others had to give.

Even when surrounded by people who had much more than me, spiritually (their experience and knowledge) and physically, when the relationships are mutual, I don't feel like a "project".

I've been going to a "spinning class".(as in yarn, not exercise;) I have felt that I am there for a purpose..... and I've been watching for the "God Moments"... the openings to share my faith....... etc...

This morning- while looking back- I'm looking forward- and I'm wondering... here are these women.. (4 of them all over 65) I've been wanting to GIVE them so much... but- what if- part of God's plan- is that I receive from them? Their wisdom, their experience..... especially in a culture- that devalues those who aren't "young"...

What if, in my RECEIVING, I am giving them a sense of honor? Of Value? Of God? Of Love and appreciation? What if that is the key to their hearts?

I'm not sure... but I'll be honest- I DON'T want these women to feel like Sunday school projects. I want them to be loved. By God. Through me. However that needs to look.

Dear Lord- as I look at the relationships in my life that have changed me so much- I see that they have been mutual, not a "tit for tat" keeping accounts kind of mutual, but lovingly mutual- one who has- gives- one who needs receives.... I pray that I can take that kind of love to others- and that in reaching out to them- they feel loved- and not like a "project"...I love you Lord-and am so thankful for all the people you have put in my life- and for all that you will be...Amen

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