Following Jesus’ Example of Washing Feet – the Modern Way

For the past 3 summers I have had the opportunity to work with a very special person. She is the sweetest, sassiest, and most polite person I could ever know. There is also something else that makes her stand out from the crowd; she has special needs.

The is no diagnosis for her, she simply is slower at everything: growing, speaking, learning, etc. This doesn’t stop her though. With the help of her family, she lives a practically normal life. This was made possible by her family and others understanding her limitations, but not focusing on them. They speak to her like they would any other person. She watches the same shows kids her age do. And for these reasons, she has grown to become someone you truly enjoy spending time with.

It has been my pleasure to be able to “hang-out” with this precious girl once a week this summer. We color, paint, walk her dog, read, watch movies, go to lunch, etc… Each day I come she tells me how thankful she is that I come to spend time with her because it makes her summer “awesome.”

The truth is though, SHE MAKES MY SUMMER AWESOME.

It is through her limitations, that I find strength. It is through spending time with her that learn what it really means to love another person. She is loyal, encouraging, and her love has no limits.

Now that you know a little bit more about my sweet friend, I’d like to tell you a little story about one of our wonderful summer days. The day started with another crazy morning for me- rush to get ready- skip the shower (there’s just no time!)- pack a breakfast to go- walk out the door- OH NO- forgot my wallet………. You get the picture. I arrived at her house late, no makeup on, and pretty hungry (after all, it is 8am now). She was waiting for me of course (she always does when I’m coming). Her parents left for work and we began our morning routine of planning out our day so she could see how many fun things we were going to do. Our first activity (after I quickly ate my dry cereal) was walking her dog outside while she rode her 3- wheeled bicycle down the rode.

The weather was not unbearable, so I decided we would stay outside longer and walk/ride father. MY MISTAKE. The heat came quickly and by the time we got back to her house we were both nasty with sweat. She and I decided this would not do at all. We had big plans for the day that could not include us feeling/looking gross.

What happened next was purely an inspirational act brought on by my faith in Jesus Christ and my love for this girl. I checked with her mom for permission (being the ask first kind of person that I am) and went straight to work on our next activity….. WASHING OUR HAIR.

I laid out some towels, prepared the shampoo, started the water, and began the most humbling experience of my life. This trusting child knelt next to her bathtub and sat patiently as I sprayed her hair with the shower hose and worked the shampoo through her thick curls. She never once complained about leaning down, or about me accidentally spraying her, or about how long I was taking like any other child would have. Instead, she thanked me when I was finished and told me how nice her hair felt.

If that doesn’t move your heart I don’t know what will. I’ve heard of people doing humbly acts that go beyond the social norm, but I never thought I could ever be apart of something so life changing. It was in those moments as I was finishing getting all of the suds out of her hair that I felt God telling me: “This is what I did.” My mind instantly thought of the time Jesus washed His disciples feet in John 13. There was nothing lower at that time than washing another persons nasty feet. In our modern times, I cannot think of many people who would wash another persons hair voluntarily let alone their feet.

After recalling this powerful scripture of Jesus washing others feet, I decided to do the same when I finished her hair. Not only was her hair clean now, but her feet were too.

I will never forget those minutes when this precious girl leaned down and allowed me to wash her hair with as much care as my clumsy body could give. This may not be exactly what people have in mind when they follow Christ and offer themselves to serve Him, but I cannot think of a more memorable or rewarding act as what I did that day.

Let me encourage you to step out and have your heart be ready to do something like this for another person. Let me also tell you that this action was not planned. God teaches us, and speaks to us when He knows we are ready, not when we want to feel like we have done something good. 

JOHN 13:3-10a

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10a Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean.


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