Tuesday, March 1, 2016

I Don't Want To Be Your Project

Friends love through all kinds of weather,
    and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.

~ Proverbs 17:17, MSG ~

In an era where everyone is "so busy," running around with over-stuffed schedules, looking for quick-fixes, it's easy for parents like me to end up as collateral damage.  People tend to look at complex lives like mine, thinking they are in need of fixing, wanting to offer a speedy remedy for difficulties.  In the church world, this can mean that caregivers or families like mine end up as someone's charitable "project."

What does this look like in practice?  Let me share what it has looked like in my life:  People who would never think to invite us over to dinner, decided that I suddenly needed them to give my child a ride home from school for a week or two. We never heard from them again after that.  Someone else offered to give us financial counseling that we didn't need.  I can't tell you how uncomfortable it felt that a person we barely knew wanted us to bare our entire financial position to them.  Another person who had neglected us for years suddenly offered their child as a mentor for one of our children.  It probably would have felt more comfortable had they found us worthy of keeping in touch with over the past decade.  Still others stopped over to pray for a time or two, even anointing one of our kids, then vanished back into the distance.  It pained me when we didn't hear from them any more.

Don't get me wrong.  Some of these can be very nice gestures.  But mostly, they just feel like people don't really care.

I don't want to be your project.  What I really want is a friend.  I want someone who will go the distance with me. I want someone who understands that my life is not suddenly going to get better tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that.  I want someone to share my dark sense of humor, shrinking my troubles with mutual laughter when they border on the ridiculous.  I want someone who celebrates small victories with me because they spend enough time with me to know how hard-fought those victories are.  I want someone who isn't afraid of me and my messy life, who's willing to ride out the scary stuff without being worried that I may become "too needy."  

I may not be the easiest person to be friends with, but Christ found me willing to die for.  I sometimes wonder when His followers will find me worthy of their time and friendship.  It seems too many of them are too busy running around to their Bible studies, and Christian concerts, and ladies' gatherings to give a minute to the likes of a mom like me.  I'm not one of the "beautiful people" or the affluent that hold a position of high popularity in the church, so I end up being someone's project.

I would like to suggest that the Church just save itself the time and trouble. People want authentic relationship, not hit-and-run charity.  That sort of activity just seems to validate the world's perception of Christian hypocrisy. Rather, come knock on my door when you're willing to just hang out for awhile, despite my dirty house or many interruptions.  Love me even if I haven't had the opportunity to throw on some makeup today or find a hip-and-trendy outfit to wear.  Take me as-is, then maybe you'll look more like Jesus, and I'll be able to feel the reality of His presence deep down in my weary bones.

PRAY:  Lord, help us slow down and offer true, caring friendship to people around us rather than just making them our projects.

~ Barb Dittrich


  1. What a raw and wonderfully vulnerable story. Thanks for speaking the truth in love.

  2. My sentiments exactly. I get visits and meals during my daughter's hospital stays and right after discharge. After that, I have to initiate the contact. My family is isolated and alone yet we are members of a loving church that just doesn't understand. When I try to explain, I think I am viewed as a "Debbie Downer". I pray that things will change and authenticity will develop.

  3. This is so, so true. Friendship is what matters. Thanks for sharing this at DifferentDream.com's Tuesday link up.

  4. Yes, this so much. We ended up leaving an abusive church situation right about the time we had a child with special needs. We've found a wonderful church, but no one can comprehend the family with four children with a genetic disease of varying severeties (one who is G tube dependent, has white matter brain damage, and wears AFOs, another on the autism spectrum, another with worsening CVS, and another with GAD--all as a result of the same genetic condition). We're exhausted. We're breaking. But when people ask what they can do they think a meal here or there will fix. I need someone to just show up and let me cry. Or to fold the mountain of laundry on the couch. And to not feel like the needy friend in the process!