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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Modern-Day Foot Washing

For the past several years, my good friend Kay Day has talked about the Lent services at her church. Because of my work schedule, I could never go, but listened in awe as she told about the moving services. This year, since I no longer work my tax job, I was able to participate. Ash Wednesday was amazing. And so... I've been looking forward to tonight, Maundy Thursday, for a really long time.

Earlier this week, I found out that one of my good friends was coming to town. Our original night to get together- tonight. Oops. Realized it wasn't going to work. I sent the dreaded email of "Please God, let her be able to move to Wednesday night so I can go to Maundy Thursday." After lots of crazy maneuvers, it turned out that Wednesday ended up being the perfect night for us to get together.

Then, hubby dropped the bomb. He had to work Thursday night. And try as I might, I couldn't find anyone else to help with the kids. I was so depressed to be missing Maundy Thursday, and, the supposed highlight of the service, a foot washing ceremony.

And then I got the phone call to change everything.

My best friend Sara called me from the hospital. We'd made lunch plans for today so our kids could get together during spring break, and would it be terribly inconvenient if I moved things around to a different time and place? She'd meet us once she got out of the hospital.

As she talked and told me of her ridiculous plans to make everything work out all right despite being in the hospital, I made plans of my own. I canceled everything for the day. I even told hubby the kids would not make it to the sacred soccer practice. I wasn't going to let her be strong on her own during her time of need- even though she claimed she didn't need anything.

Today, I helped clean her house. I made her sit and drink tea. I let our little girls play together. I cooked her dinner. And then we watched The Blind Side together.

It wasn't an elaborate ceremony. I just did for her what she shouldn't do for herself. She thought she could do it on her own. She'd argue with me, but her pasty white skin told me a different story. She thought she had to be strong. Because she's used to be being strong. She couldn't see how weak she was.

And as I drove home tonight with my kids sleeping in the backseat, I realized that I got to go to a foot washing ceremony after all.

The disciples all thought they were capable of washing their own feet. They had no idea how desperately they needed Jesus. Jesus, though, could see their hearts. Just like He sees ours. And He knows how desperately we need Him. Even when we argue and try to do it ourselves.

My friend Sara didn't need her feet cleaned. But she needed the dishes washed, the meal cooked, and someone to sit with her and tell it was okay not to have to be superwoman today. And that, I believe, is a more powerful foot washing ceremony than anything a church could put on. Jesus wasn't about the formalities and traditions, even though it is nice to know them. Jesus wanted us to actually get out and do something practical with those teachings. They do us no good if all we have is the theory.

The biggest blessing to come from this wasn't what she got. It's what I got. As I cared for my friend, God showed me intimate pieces of Himself. The places where my past disappointments intersected with my present ability to minister to my friend's hurts. He showed me how the Bible isn't just something we read, but something we live, and even when we do it imperfectly, our attempts bless others tremendously. He showed me joy in the middle of tremendous disappointment.

Most of all, He reminded me that while it's good to sometimes take his command to wash one another's feet literally, we should also look at it figuratively. In today's world, where we live in such disconnect, stepping into one another's lives and caring for each other in basic ways we take for granted is a powerful way of loving one another.

My hope, and my challenge to you, is to not disregard the power of friendship. Taking the time to be there for someone who needs you- whether it be washing dirty dishes, making dinner, watching a movie, or even just letting that person know that it's okay to not be strong for a little while- can mean the world to someone. I only know this because she once did the same for me.


William and Anna Patterson said...

It was late and time was short and everyone was very tired and frustrated. They knew that tomorrow would be bad and some complained and some cried and some just sat there in grief. And they were dirty and had walked in sandles a long way. And Jesus could have been doing so many things, but he did the dirty, hard thing one more time. He washed his disciples feet. We can aspire to be like Jesus, but we cannot totally be compared to him. No one can.

Debra said...

Thank you for this, Danica.

We often don't need to go to more services, we just need to serve.

This is a great example.

Lucy Monroe said...

Okay...you made me cry, but thank you! That was a wonderful post and you are a true friend - the kind we all aspire to be and need in our lives as well. I'm blessed my daughters are like this with me, so are my sisters. We live to love and love to live. :) God has blessed each one of us immensely in that we get to do it together!

Kay Day said...

It is all about serving-- and learning how to be served. I think the latter may be harder. Peter resisted the idea of Jesus serving him in that way.
I think we weren't meant to go last night. I think God had a better "service" in mind for you!
But we'll still try to go next year.

Michele Cushatt said...

I love this. Profound in so many ways. And I love your heart.

P.S. This would make a great article. :)