I’m a soccer mom. And as tends to be the trend nowadays, the select soccer team that my daughter is on holds an auction every fall to make money for scholarships, field fees, etc. My daughter’s soccer team is part of a much bigger organization that includes many boys’ and girls’ soccer teams, so the auction is a very big deal. I did not hold my hand up to be one of 2 representatives from the team to handle all the auction stuff, but someone else did. Actually, what happened was that there are several “jobs” for the team: team mom, photographer, site keeper, etc., and I had not volunteered for anything. Nor did I want to. I know how that goes. You stick your toe out and you get completely sucked in. But then the team mom sent out a plea for another person to help the one mom who had volunteered to help with the auction.
I’ll be honest. I didn’t feel all that bad for that mom; I was more concerned with what people would think of me if I did nothing. And then I thought it would be fun to work with this other mom, and get to know her. So, I said, “I’ll do it.” Fateful words, those.
As time has gone on, the other mom has faded into the woodwork. She’s an event planner and very busy with weddings. I have soldiered on, and it has not been fun. There are 3 elements of the auction that I’ve had to handle, and they all involve getting the parents to cough up money and an item to donate to the auction. Need I say more? I’ve sent out email after email advising the parents of deadlines to get their money/item to me. I have become the bane of the team; the one everyone avoids. Yesterday was the drop-dead date to get their auction item to me, and I sent out one last plea. One of the parents sent back a somewhat rude email in response and copied everyone on the team. It hurt. I sent her back a personal email and told her that doing what I had to do for the auction wasn’t fun; I was doing it because I had to.
Fortunately, I’ve also gotten 2 or 3 from parents who have said, “Hey, thanks Gwenn for doing this. We really appreciate it.”
Wow, what a contrast. But oddly, her one rude email affected me all day long. It lingered in the back of my mind, and overshadowed everything I did. The one bright spot was that I’ve noticed the Holy Spirit working in me through this. Throughout much of my life, I’ve struggled with my mouth…and my knee-jerk reactions. I had this belief system in the back of my head that if I let people treat me badly, I would set a precedent with them, and they would think they could do it all the time. I had to nip it in the bud the first time, so I would set them straight quickly. It didn’t always fare well.
But in this instance and another one a couple of days ago (completely unrelated), I found that my response was surprisingly sweet. It certainly wasn’t the old me, I can tell you that. In fact, it wasn’t me at all; it was the Holy Spirit. I was chatting with my friend Carrie about it, and she nodded knowingly. She said, “Sometimes it feels like I have this pipe sticking out of the top of my head, and the Holy Spirit pours into me.” What a great visual.
And here’s the other interesting thing…when the Holy Spirit guards our responses, it’s truly amazing how people react. In the other instance a few days ago, involving the two women who manage the rentals for my cabin, the person sputtered and stammered, and then said, “Wow, I’m glad to hear that.” And then the other woman, who also gets the emails sent to their management company, wrote me an email and said, “Gwenn, thanks for that email, and for your faith. It truly blessed me, for personal reasons.” Wow.
As Christians–and auction volunteers–we’re called to love people, even when they hurt us. And if we try to do it in our own strength, it’s darned near impossible. But an amazing thing begins to happen as we draw near to Jesus, and “abide in Him.” He, then, abides in us and through us. Imperceptibly, we begin to change into His image. It doesn’t happen overnight. For me, it has happened over years.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” (John 15:4)
If we go to Him daily, and read His word, we can be assured that we are changing into His image. We may be aging, but we are becoming infinitely more beautiful.