When I first became a mom, I was shocked at how physical my life had become.
First of all, pregnancy. It’s amazing, miraculous. Hormonal. Uncomfortable.
Labor, birth, recovery… Yep, very physical situations.
I’ve never been very good at accepting physical limitations and pregnancy was no different.
There was one memorable trip to Ikea (with my toddler) followed by assembling furniture while heavily pregnant with twins. Just not a good idea.
Motherhood is physical
Sleep deprivation, figuring out breastfeeding, hurting all over, cleaning tiny bottoms and voluminous amounts of poop (of various colors), the laundry oh the laundry, the car seat in, the car seat out, the stroller up, the stroller down and lifted into the car, the meals, the clear up, the washing up, the toys into the basket, the laundry again…
Motherhood is physical. And spiritual and emotional, but also physical.
And I was shocked, because my work previously had been more of the “calmly looking at a computer screen or book or talking with adults over a hot cup of coffee” kind of work.
Honestly, I struggled with the physical demands.
Literally washing their feet
Here’s something which helped me adjust: Jesus told us to wash the feet of the saints.
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” John 13:14-15
To wash their feet. Dirty, smelly feet. Feet that get dirty again every day.
I’ve heard this taught as any act of service of our Christian brothers and sisters. Phoning a friend in need, listening to someone struggling, giving financially, providing wise counsel. And I’m sure there’s something to that – any Christian service is the pouring out of our love, time, energy and resources.
But there’s something in the physical act of washing the feet of the saints that is so humbling and practical, that I can’t gloss over it. It is a physical kneeling and a physical scrubbing of dirty feet, and we’re specifically told to it.
Here’s another verse which stopped me in my tracks:
“…and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work.” 1 Timothy 5:10
How does Paul teach Timothy to recognise a godly woman, living out her faith in the Lord Jesus? What are her good works?
Included in that list: she washes the feet of the saints. She actually does it. I don’t think it’s just a code for being generally servant-hearted. It’s physical.
Why washing feet is an honor
Why do we push back on that? That it isn’t really a physical instruction to us.
It’s something to do with our cultural devaluing of physical work. And our cultural devaluing of physically caring for other people. Honestly, it wasn’t in my Christian bloodstream that this is a precious and important thing to do.
I hope and pray that when this very physical season of motherhood has passed, that I keep on physically serving the needs of saints. I know there will be lots of opportunities.
And when I feel it’s beneath me, I think back to where we began – with Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. Why did He do it?
“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” John 13:3-5
He was the King, approaching His coronation. The Father had given all things into His hands. And He saw fit to kneel down, take off His clothes, pour the water, and wash their feet. It’s an honor to follow Him.