A friend of mine passed this post along to me today and it hit me right between the eyes. In light of the Lenten season, the reference to Jesus' washing of the disciples' feet was timely.
I was challenged and convicted by the author, Richard Dahlstrom, as he addressed serving others and our emotions surrounding such. This is a topic that requires personal prayer, reflection and two-way conversation that goes deeper than a blog post typed hastily by a tired housewife, so I will proceed with caution...BUT...sometimes I think in our efforts to love and support one another in the trenches of motherhood, we let each other off a bit too easily.
When Jesus called us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, I don't recall there being a caveat about doing so when we felt like it or it was convenient. Life is stressful and busy and most Moms have their hands full with their own families--but I believe we do those families a disservice to NOT model obedience to God's design for caring for one another. I hear people say something to the effect of: There will be a season for serving others, but this is my season to serve my family. In response, I want to ask why we think of the two things in opposition to one another. Isn't loving and serving our neighbors an extension of loving our families in the instruction and admonition of the Lord?
Lest my point be lost, I don't believe it serves our families well to be on 18 committees and signing up to bring a casserole to someone every day of the week. I DO think this means praying constantly for the Lord to show you what He has for YOU in YOUR world that could be a visible expression of His love and care for those you encounter on a daily basis...especially when it can be done with and in front of your children.
I fear we overthink this and make it more complicated that it truly is. Do you know what seems to impact my children's hearts more than any other 'service' I do? Knowing the names of the people who work at my grocery store and a little bit about their lives. When I stop to ask Carole about her grandson, John about his next fishing trip or Jennifer about her kids it conveys a message stronger than any lecture I could give my children about respecting others regardless of their position in life.
When we slow down and offer help to the 'needy' people we encounter in our everyday lives (needs ranging from a kind word, a smile, appreciation, patience, help with groceries) the little sets of eyes watching us (and, more importantly, their impressionable hearts) get a real lesson in what we sincerely believe about our neighbors. Are our concerns too important to consider theirs?
No matter how busy you are, you do have time for kindness...even if you are stressed, they don't deserve it, or you just aren't in the mood. As Dahlstrom wrote, Jesus' example of foot washing tells us something vitally important about the nature of the Gospel:
"He’s telling us to be ready to serve, both when it energizes us and when it doesn’t, both when we’ve warm feelings (for) the recipients of our service, and when they annoy us. That’s the essence of what it means to make God visible in this world, because that’s how God made Himself visible in the world most clearly. I’m challenged by Jesus’ example of the towel and basin, chastened with the awareness that I withdraw from serving at times, both because “I’m wiped out” and because “they don’t deserve it”. I rarely use those phrases precisely. I talk about boundaries and enabling instead. Those are two legitimate principles for all of us who work with people must invoke to serve well, but which can also be used to baptize our own selfishness and pettiness at times. What Jesus is saying is true service needs to happen even when you don’t feel like it, and should be offered even to people who don’t deserve it. That’s the gospel."
Wow. I am challenged.