on foot washing and dirty diapers

It’s pretty rare that I would use the word “rebuke” to describe Jordan’s words, especially directed at me. I married the most patient man, who listens intently as I babble on and on (hello verbal processing) and then finally, after I’ve talked myself in circles for who-knows-how-long, he offers some deeply profound, wise and insightful commentary. My husband is wonderful.

But there was one particular time where his silence was wearing on me. I sat there, lamenting my job – whining about the mundane nature of my daily tasks – declaring that I am sick. and. tired. of washing clothes that will just need washing again, of cleaning a kitchen that will just be dirty as soon as I make dinner, of sweeping a floor that will soon be covered once again in crumbs and cheerios. I lamented endless princess games and the pile of construction-paper-and-glue projects stacked on my (MY!) desk. I complained about that hour before he gets home every night where I basically have to endure inconsolable baby screaming which miraculously turns into happy-as-can-be baby as soon as he walks in the door. I’m not proud, okay? There was a lot of whining.

But he just listened. Quietly. No reaction or response. Just listened.

I couldn’t take it any more. “Say something! Just lay it on me. I’m ready. Tell me what you think.”

“Do you really want to know what I think?” he asked. I suddenly started doubting that I did.

“Yes. Tell me.” I waited.

And then came the rebuke. He pointed out my selfishness, my pride, my impatience. He told me I was ungrateful, not appreciating and enjoying the many blessings God has given me. And he said I could really benefit from meditating on Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.

Um…what?
Ouch.

I’m not going to lie, it was sexy. ūüėČ

Sometimes, I think I just need that slap in the face. Something that will force my eyes off of myself and my endless pity party and lift them up to see Christ. Christ who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross of my behalf. Christ who stooped to the ground and performed the lowest, menial task in an act of service for his disciples. Christ, who calls me to do the same as I lay down my life day in and day out for these little people in my care.

I think as a mom it’s easy to forget because lowly acts of service are just a part of the job description. Changing a dirty diaper doesn’t feel like an act of worship (far from it, actually), because it must be done. Making dinner each night doesn’t feel like an act of service because, let’s face it, I’ve got to eat too. And it’s oh-so-easy to fall into the trap of thinking about all the things I want to be doing with my¬†time and, as a result, see my family as unfortunate and frustrating interruptions and obstacles.

There is an element of suck-it-up here. Even when I don’t feel like obeying, I am called to do so in faith, trusting that God is working in my heart, changing me to be more like Jesus.

But praise God He doesn’t just leave us with “suck it up and do it.”

I’ve been spending some time in Ephesians lately, and last week as I was looking at 2:1-10 with a friend, I got another one of those slaps in the face. Chapter 1 is all about how “God initiated and accomplished cosmic reconciliation and redemption for the praise of his glory” (thank you, ESV Study Bible). In other words – election, redemption, sanctification, glorification – it all starts and ends with God. We can claim no credit. It’s all for the praise of¬†His glory.

And in case we haven’t gotten it yet, Paul continues in chapter 2 with what is one of my favorite passages of Scripture:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience‚ÄĒamong whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ‚ÄĒby grace you have been saved‚ÄĒand raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.¬†(Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV)

Our salvation is not a result of our works – God ensured it so that no one could boast. Verse 10, however, shows us the place of good works – God has created us for them. In fact, He has prepared good works in advance for us to do, that we should walk in them.

I’ve always thought of that as kind of the “but.” Yes, you’re not saved¬†by good works, but¬†you must do them. It’s the natural overflow of experiencing God’s “immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

I think that’s very much true, but in stopping there I feel like we’ve stepped out of the thrust of the book thus far, which is God’s initiative – His work – His glory – leaving no room for us to boast. Even about the good works that flow out¬†of His saving grace – we can’t boast about those, because we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He prepared beforehand. What do we do? We walk in them. That’s it. He did everything. We see that, we respond in awe and worship, and so we obey.

This is probably the really long way of saying that foot washing and dirty diapers are a gift from God. Ha. But seriously. The only way I can change a dirty diaper with a worshipful heart full of gratitude for the grace that has been extended to me in Christ is because of God’s work in me. He has created me for good works, He has given them to me throughout the day, and He has called me to walk in them. Every opportunity I have to serve is an opportunity for me to reflect on Ephesians 1 and 2 and to respond in joyful, obedient service.

Sometimes this makes a lot more sense in my head than on a computer screen. But the point is this. Even the most mundane good works have been appointed that we should walk in them. What a sweet God who allows us to be His instruments of grace to little hearts and a hurting world. And what a sweet God whose slaps in the face consist of pointing me to His incredible grace, reminding me of where I started, and showing me just how far He plans to take me.

To the praise of His glorious grace.

2 Responses

  1. Megan Miller

    Your blog post today was sent to me by God. Every now and then I will read your posts and for a reason known to God, today was the best day for me to read. Eric and I don’t have kids yet but I had the exact same feeling over things I have to accomplish in our life and marriage everyday. We had an argument about it yesterday and God has really been pressing on my heart about tasks, time for Him, time for me, etc. Then today I read this http://wau.org/meditations/current/ and then I read your blog. Yep, He certainly answered some of my thoughts didn’t he?! Thanks Kendra, for the continued inspiration.

  2. Kendra,
    Thank you for this! Very well written, and a lesson that I wish I would read through every morning before I even let my feet hit the floor!

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