Friday, March 29, 2013

Dirty Feet

Washing the feet of my children was surprisingly moving and profound. I did not expect the emotional reaction that I had.

Maundy Thursday is a long celebrated holy day in the church. It commemorates the last sharing of a meal together between Jesus and his disciples. It is the night before he is put to death, the night that he is betrayed by two of those same disciples that shared the meal with him. It is the night that Jesus takes the posture of a servant and with unfathomable love, stoops down to each of these men and washes their feet - even the ones who would betray him. He washes them in order to show them how much he truly loves them, and also to show them how to truly love others.

This story of washing feet doesn't really resonate quite the same until you have washed and been washed yourself. I never really understood the true depth of the message of love and service until I allowed myself to live out the story this Thursday.

I've been to church services before where there have been foot washings. But it has always been something that I have watched others do in front of the church. Never have I been an active participant in the story. It is profound.

My little family of five went to one chair in the back of the church set up with a couple of bowls, a pitcher of water and some towels. Many other people were there, doing the same thing with family members, friends, or perfect strangers at different chairs throughout the room. But when I was there at our chair with my family, it became an intimate moment between us. My little Emerson was the first to enthusiastically hop up on the chair, excited to see what it was like to have cold water poured onto her little feet. As I knelt down in front of her, and saw her wiggling toes through the running water, I was struck with my deep, unashamed love for this little soul. How much I truly love her - each of my children. In a way that could never be expressed in my words, but was so profoundly expressed as I carefully wiped and dried her cold little feet.

I looked up and saw her sweet, smiling face. But I could also see a twinge of embarrassment and even confusion. She was happy, she was satisfied with what I just did, but she also didn't fully understand it. There is a depth to my heart that she can't fully see or understand. And she won't really know how deep my love is until she is a mother herself. And I realized, maybe for the first time, that this is how Jesus loves me. He loves me, all of us, with such a profound depth, that I really don't understand. As Jesus knelt next to his disciples to wash their dirty feet, they were uncomfortable, embarrassed, confused. They didn't understand the depth of his love for them. They didn't fully get it. And neither do we. We know Jesus loves us, cares for us, petitions the Father for us, even died for us. But we still don't really know the absolute depth and fierceness of his love for us. And maybe we never will, until we see the completion of the story in eternity, and see him face to face.

We continued with washing feet as a family. I washed Ella's and Gavin's. Gavin washed mine and Elijah's. I spend each and every day serving the blessings that God has given me. It's what I do. I am a mom and a wife. It is my responsibility to take care of these people that I have been given. Some days it feels more like a chore than a joy. But when I washed their feet, just the simple act of getting on the floor, below them and in a physical posture of servanthood, the chore became a joy. It is this way when we serve in the way that Jesus exampled. Whether we are serving our own children, close friends, complete strangers, and even those that are put in our life that we would never pick on our own, we are called to humbly serve with abandon by taking the posture of Jesus. Jesus takes JOY in loving and serving us, and he allows us that same deep joy when being a servant to others.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."