I'm not really sure exactly where to begin so that the events can be fully understood. So I'm throwing a dart and going to start typing.
After making our way to Maundry service, getting Ruth dropped off and settled and settling down myself - I heard my pastor mention a foot washing service. My heart plummeted. I'd only ever participated in one service before and my experience wasn't the best.
I've mentioned my sordid church history before. The only other time I'd ever participated in such a service was at the church that had me escorted out by police. Just before I was escorted out, we all sat in a circle and the man who wanted to be pastor washed our feet. After the service, we chatted and he told me he had been told I was promising young leader. It wasn't very long (days or less perhaps) between this event and when he had us escorted out. It just added to the feeling of betrayal.
Our church happens to do baptisms during Maundry service. I love that it is once a year. I think that makes it extra special. Two folks were getting baptized. It was a celebration and this year it was fun watching the kids. Rebekah has declared she wants to be baptized. I don't truly think she is ready just yet, but it was sweet to hear her declare she wants too.
Pastor started discussing the foot washing again at this point and my mind was running a million miles a minute. Feelings about the last time surfaced, but didn't really take over. What I was going to do swirled around in my head. Leave? Go? What? I decided to go - but I wasn't sure if I was going to participate. I walked into the room and sat down. Rebekah was sitting next to me, babbling away. Instinctively I peeled off my shoes, being careful to not show my holy socks. That isn't Holy...that is...holy...big huge holes where my toes are. All my socks have them (and they aren't that old). It's from running, as best as I can tell.
I say instinctively because I never made a conscious choice to participate. I took it tiny step by tiny step. "OK, I'm fine walking down the hallway to where they are doing the foot washing." "OK, I'm fine sitting in the circle." "OK, I'll go ahead and take my shoes off and sit here and observe before making my next move." It was just tiny step after tiny step.
By they way - I'm not really fond of people messing with my feet. This entire thing is just so far out of my comfort zone...
Before I could second guess anything Cara was at my feet asking to wash them. She smiled and began talking about how she just wanted to tell me thanks for being so welcoming. She talked about how everyone had been attending for so long, yet we accepted her as if it was no big deal. This rolled around in my head for a bit - I hadn't been attending this church for all that long. Not really. Wait - is 7 years a long time? Goodness - 7 years...wait really? Is my math right? She got a little weepy and said a few more things. Things I keep close to my heart because they were special.
I then grabbed a bucket and made a beeline for Ashley. I knew I was supposed to wash her feet. I didn't really know what to say - other than thanks for being my friend. Some friends challenge you, and I always feel like Ashely does.
Rebekah at this point was hollering that she wanted hers done. I wasn't really letting her participate because for her it was just something fun to do. I was having a tough time keeping her from ruining the time for others. I kept telling her to be quiet but she wasn't listening at all. I went ahead and did her feet (I had decided before the hollering started I would) and she quieted down. I let her do mine as well (she was begging). I'd love to say it was really special - but frankly I didn't view it as that...not with her demanding demeanor.
I sat for a moment and knew there was one more person's feet I needed to wash. She had her shoes on (the sign of simple observation and not participation), but there was a towel there too. So I decided to venture over. I still didn't know what to say, but I ventured over to Jan. I started out by telling her what a special friend she was and then it just tumbled out of my mouth - "You are a role model!" I couldn't really think of a better way to describe it. While no one is perfect, we do learn from one another. And Jan has taught me so much in so many areas. It isn't intentional on her part, but I have been blessed by her.
By this time things were wrapping up. I sat for a moment longer and Ashley stopped by and washed my feet. She also said some very special things that helped me realize a few things about myself. It is sort of like looking in a mirror with your reflection being in other people. She was echoing a few thoughts that someone else had mentioned at a Bible study earlier in the year about me. It was fascinating because things that are being spoken into me are things that are so different from what has been spoken into me in the past.
Hanging out with Jesus and other Jesus-freaks truly does set you free. It breaks the shackles and bondage that hangs in your life. And while sometimes it can be an overnight thing - sometimes it is a journey. Who are you? Why are you here? What are you doing? Here I am nearly to my mid-30s and I'm still thinking about these things.
Once it was finished I pondered the vastly different experiences I had - and I thought "Of course - it couldn't be anything else but." My church has never been anything than my experience that night - God-inspired. My momentary panic seemed so foolish. (Doesn't it always on the other side?)
I stepped over to Cara to chat with her a moment about it. She broke the foot washing ice for me and I wanted to tell her thanks. It was here I learned that it had been announced the previous week this was going to happen. I had missed every single announcement. I'm sure that was by divine design. I don't know that I would have had the courage to come. Then I found out that when she prayed about it this week, God had told her she needed to wash me feet and to do it first.
Well. God knew. He knew that he needed to tug at that little piece and heal it. From writing my experiences out to participating in this - I truly do feel I am healed from my past. The baggage has been tossed out. I can even tell you what has been replaced with it - this reflective glimpses I've observed. I'm not the same person I was all those years ago. And I can say that God is making me better.
This has been a pretty sweet Easter. I didn't get to contemplate the normal things I think about on Easter (Christ sacrificing himself, conquering sin - the effort He has put into loving us) but that's alright. God knew just what I needed. I'm not sure yet why I needed it - but I'm sure it will become clear eventually. It usually does!