Thursday, April 2, 2015

Celebrating Feet

Celebrating feet (and Maundy Thursday)

I don’t like feet.  Not in the casual sort of “feet are not my favorite part of the body” sense, but in a “I will freak right out on you if you touch my feet or if I have to touch yours” way.  It’s bad.  If my poor husband rolls over in bed and his feet accidentally touch mine, in that brief moment before I talk myself down, I am wondering if “accidental foot touching” is an acceptable reason for divorce.  Okay, not really. Just using exaggeration to make the point --  I really don’t like feet.  

Ironically, I worked in a podiatry office for 6 years. The doctor I worked for prided himself on training all of his staff to be able to work in the front office (customer service and paperwork) and the back office (assisting the doctor and TOUCHING FEET). It is my claim to fame that I was the only employee in the 20-plus year history of that office to get exempted from having to work in the back office. I just could not do it. Luckily, I proved myself valuable enough in the front office to earn the only permanent spot there. J

I sadly have passed a little bit of this weirdness on to my daughter. But when she got a pedicure and told me it didn’t push her over the edge, I sang a little victory song in my head.  I might have passed it on, but it is a slightly improved, slightly less neurotic version of the “I hate feet” gene.

So it is no surprise that the story of Jesus washing His disciples' feet is not my favorite. It’s just uncomfortable for me all around. But I stumble through it, always hopeful that I can get past the intense grossness of Someone washing someone else’s feet.

The foot-washing debacle occurs on what is known as Maundy Thursday. I think I have looked up the word “Maundy” every year since my daughter has been old enough to ask me “What does Maundy mean?” every time Easter rolls around. So there I was again tonight, googling “Maundy”.

“Oh that’s right. It means ‘commandment’ and refers to Jesus’ commandment to His disciples (then and now) to love others as He had loved them.”  Why can’t I remember that? Why do I have to look it up every stinkin’ year?  (On a related side note, I read a cheerful little article today that described how our memory skills and abilities peak at age 35 and decline steadily after that. That means I am 18 years down the decline side of that mountain. Super.    Also, I’m really glad we can google word definitions now because I can’t read the small print in the dictionary anymore. Aging is not for wimps, friends.)

Anyway, Jesus was demonstrating His unfathomable love for His disciples by washing their feet.  What does that mean for me today? If I was there on that Maundy Thursday evening, I sure hope I would be able to overcome my wackiness and let Him wash my feet. But, really, it means something more.

It means letting Him have the parts of me that are hard, or “icky”. The parts of my personality that disgust myself. The fears and insecurities that cripple me. The aspects of myself that I would rather hide away.

Turns out He treats those parts with the utmost gentleness and tenderness. He understands. He washes them clean and makes them acceptable. He redeems them and uses them for His glory.

Hallelujah – what a Savior!  Happy Maundy Thursday – aka Fabulous Foot Day!  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Celebrating Extravagance

Celebrating Extravagance

Tucked in to the middle of Holy Week, the Gospels tell  us that Jesus was having dinner with his disciples and some others when they experienced an interruption. A woman enters the scene – Matthew and Mark refer to her simply as “a woman” while John  identifies her as “Mary”. She apparently causes quite a stir when she breaks open a very expensive jar of perfume and anoints Jesus’ head, then washes His feet with her tears. The disciples were pretty indignant that she had “wasted” such an expensive item, when it could have been sold, and the money given to the poor.

A couple new things hit me as I read through this passage tonight. For one thing, this woman risked. A lot. She walked into the middle of a group of men who she knew would judge her, and gave what may have been her most prized possession. She must have known she was going to be criticized, ridiculed, and condemned. But she didn’t care. I imagine maybe she didn’t even see the others around her. She knew they were there, of course, but I picture her so focused on the One she loved, that she didn’t care about anything else. She was there on a mission and nothing could stop her.

Another thing. . . she washed His feet with her tears! I have read or heard this story hundreds of times, and it never crossed my mind how hard she must have been crying if there were enough tears to wash His feet. We’re talking Big Ugly Cry here. Again, she didn’t care. Oblivious to the stares and judgments of those around her who didn’t understand, she unabashedly poured out her heart. She wept at His feet.

Jesus, unlike the rest of the guests there, saw her heart. He saw the pure love of someone who had been rescued and forgiven. He told the disciples and others to quit bugging her (my paraphrase) because she had performed an act of great beauty and sacrifice that would be remembered forever. She had loved extravagantly because she had been loved by Jesus.

Oh, how I want to love extravagantly. To pour myself out for those whom God has given me to love. To give sacrificially, joyfully, and with a heart full of gratitude. The best way I am finding so far to do this (since I am sadly lacking in very expensive perfumes, and I’m pretty sure my loved ones don’t want me anointing their heads and crying on their feet anyway) is to simply be present. To lay aside distractions and listen with my whole self. To give up the idea that I have to have answers for every problem and just be there. Sit with. Accept.

I haven’t even begun to figure out how to do really do this well. But I want to. And I have been extravagantly loved and lavishly forgiven by the One who can show me how.