I can’t make good choices.
Bella sobbed with her face pressed into the bath towel.
We'd had a rough few days of listening, and so when Bella didn’t listen when I told her to get out of the bathtub the first, second and nineteenth time I asked her to, I got after her. But Bella had gotten in trouble at school that day for not being particularly kind to her friends and so it's safe to say that the whole day had been just a bit too much. One could argue that I could have been a tiny kinder with my tone but Bella’s heart was so vulnerable it just broke. And for the first time, I got to see the depths of my daughter’s heart, what happens when the world is just too much and she feels like she can’t keep up.
The words she was using to describe herself broke me. I didn’t know where she got those words and it tore me to pieces to think she could think anything of the sort about her beautiful soul. The following morning we talked about where she heard those words and what she thinks those words mean, but in that moment I took her into my arms and I sat on the bathroom floor, holding her bleeding heart.
Can mommy be mean sometimes? I asked.
How about daddy? And Miss Kathy? Can your friends sometimes be mean?
So we can sometimes be mean, but are we mean people? I continued on in hopes to help her see we’re all flawed and in the process of becoming.
As the tears subsided a bit, I gently placed her on the closed toiled seat and staring up at her I began to talk about how when I was exactly her age I realized for the first time how much God loved me and that nothing I could do could change his love, and how that very same love is true for her.
We talked about how mommy has the same love for her and that I will always love her to the moon and back… and back again.
And slowly, Bella’s heart began to return to her. The storm inside her soul settled, and the noise of the day quieted.
I would have sat there on the floor all night starting up at her if that’s what it took.
It’s Holy Thursday. Tonight, people around the world gather in churches, and a pastor or priest will wash feet.
As a kid, I used to think that Jesus washed feet to show us how perfect he was. Look at me, I’m serving. I’m so servy that I’ll even wash gross disgusting dusty feet. What’d you do today? I pictured him like the passive aggressive mother in law, loudly moving the basin bowl of water from foot to foot as if to proclaim: I’M SERVING HERE! Like he didn’t really want to serve but no one else was going to do it so he would, but he’d let us all know he was doing it.
Each Holy Thursday would roll around and I’d think about how much I hate feet, and how I hadn’t found myself any feet to wash. Like maybe I wasn’t a good person because good people walk around with rags and offer a good scrub. My salvation was doomed.
I sat cuddled up and barefoot on Doc’s couch yesterday, the pillows perfectly placed under my arm and around my legs for comfort. I shared how Bell has a hard time sometimes coming down so we can talk about her heart. That her heart and mind start rattling around and she has a really hard time getting to a place where she can hear anything but the noise.
Doc told me that there are two ways they’ve found that immediately help calm the part of our brain that is going wonky in those moments. It is touch. And it is getting below eye level.
OH MY GOD. Jesus was brilliant. The disciples had just come in after a long, hard day on the dusty roads of life, and it’s said that the disciples were arguing over who was better while Jesus washed their feet. I used to think this was to show that these pompous pricks just didn’t get it. I figured they were just those people, those sinny people, and I took it as a warning sign that if I didn’t get my act together and sit on the floor that I wouldn’t be accepted into the streets of gold.
But I wonder. Maybe the story wasn’t about our broken state but actually about God’s love.
The world is hard and noisy and we can forget who we are out there. And that’s exactly what had happened, the disciples had forgotten who they were at the core. They didn’t remember that they were perfectly knit and designed and dearly loved. And just like Bella, the day’s hard had gotten the best of their hearts. And so there they sat, arguing over who was better. Because sometimes when we feel like we’re not enough we try to make ourselves feel better than someone else.
What I love is that while the disciples are falling apart, Jesus is doing magic.
And he’s below eye level.
Jesus reveals to us that love will sit on the bathroom floor all night long to show us that our hearts matter most. Love never leaves. Love stays. Love sits in the noise, the chaos and the storm until the noise quiets, the chaos calms and the storm passes.
I bet Jesus stood with that basin bowl with so much love. He wasn’t an angry mother in law and he wasn’t an angry God telling us to get it right. He was showing us what love does. It shows up.
Today, I saw Jesus at the feet of the disciples. Only he wasn’t passive aggressive. He was calm. He was steady. He sat on the floor listening to each heart’s cry. And with each handful of water he scooped and poured over the feet, he said, tell me more. I’m here. It’s okay. Let’s talk about it. I love you always.
Tomorrow, we are at his feet. We’ll stand at the foot of the cross and we’ll be reminded once again that love always wins.
May we know and trust this love. And may we be the kind of people that will sit in the darkest, hardest, and most in need moments of all those we meet. May we always choose to show up with a basin bowl ready to listen until the storms of this life pass.
Grace + Peace.