"God, human beings SUCK!"
My rawest, unfiltered and most honest thoughts unravelled at 5am on a Sunday morning. I know, a Sunday. A holy day yet somehow, my most 'unholy' thoughts fueled by frustration were coming forth. "How can they be so self-centred? I did EVERYTHING for them!"
The next few hours of that morning looked like me processing how I felt before God. Actually, more like me venting and putting on worship music in the background to calm me down and make me feel a little more spiritual than how I felt in that moment. I had frustration that had been brewing over the previous fortnight from a few let downs I had experienced from people I had depended on.
I unsnarled a complex web of emotions in the stillness of that Sunday morning. Still, my wounded heart mentally plotted how I would distance myself from certain people I felt let down by.
"I'm done! I'm putting boundaries around my heart! Next time they come around and need my help I won't be there. I'm done investing time into seeing them thrive. I'm done listening and I'm done interceding for them........"
For whatever reason (In retrospect that REALLY must have been the leading of the Holy Spirit), I put on a podcast sermon in the background as I began to prepare for church. It's always funny how God always brings a right on time message in the middle of wrestling. Instead of waiting for who I considered the offending parties to apologize and be present for me in my time of need, I found my perspective being shifted and instead becoming the one repenting before God.
I spent the next forty minutes of that morning listening to a message focusing on the account of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. I meditated on those scriptures. Jesus washed feet.
The feet of disciples who had been with him from during his earthly ministry.
The feet of those he called friends who scattered after the altercation in the garden of Gethsemane. The feet of the one who when asked if he was a follower, denied him three times when things got hard.
The feet of the one who betrayed him with a kiss for thirty pieces of silver.
Jesus is a continual model of love, humility and compassion narrated through the scriptures for his followers today to emulate. Following in the way of Jesus with the heart of the Father for compassion, humility and service reminds us that there will be times when we will be called to love and serve those who at one point, may let us down by their words or actions or the lack thereof.
As we examine the life of Jesus, fully God and fully man, we are reminded of a practice that He walked out frequently. He remained connected to the Father in private fellowship. I didn't realize that as I unraveled and spew my emotions before my heavenly Father, who already knew my every thought, I was exposing places areas of wounding for Him to heal as I told Him how I really felt.
As I rambled on and on in between the podcast message, I found myself pausing and reflecting as well as interjecting with my opinions. I was part convicted yet part wrestling with my need to be right. God, by gentle conviction of the heart reminded me, "No, you won't do that. Love them. Don't stop extending compassion and serving their needs."
That morning, I had to go back to my 'why'. Why love people? Why walk in compassion? Why be there for them, support or listen to them? Perhaps you will also at one point or another have to ask yourself the same questions. Why were you there for them? Why did you love or serve them?Did you serve them because you desired them to serve you back?
Was your service or loving acts of compassion a sort of spiritual deposit you made for a future withdrawal?
How do you extend love and compassion to someone who will never love you back in the same way?
Sometimes we will be called to wash he feet of those who do not have the emotional capacity to love us back. Sometimes we will be called to extend compassion and serve those who may not possess the spiritual intelligence to be considerate of our own emotions or needs. The greatest commandment to love our neighbor, serve our neighbor and wash the feet of our neighbor isn't contingent on their ability to reciprocate the same towards us. We'll have to extend unreciprocated compassion to those who hurt us. We don't do it to get anything back. We do it because we are followers of Jesus.
In those early morning hours, as I listened to that message and meditated on those scriptures, the Word of God wash over my weary and troubled heart. Though we don't serve people and extend compassion to get it back, God sees our private actions and acts of love towards people and when we need it, He will be faithful to meet us at our point of need through the most unexpected people. Over the course of time following that morning, God, in His infinite mercy and loving kindness, sent people I had not expected or anticipated to meet me at a specific point of need in that wilderness season.
Perhaps when we are weary from loving and serving others, we are called back into the hidden place of prayer where God restores our soul and as we go out from that place, God releases completely different people both expected and unexpected who turn up to help us in our own time of need.
I am reminded of on the number of times God met me in moments of disappointment and frustration from those I depended on and brought in people to help me fill up again. Whether it's been a leader, a stranger in a coffee shop, an acquaintance, a long lost friend, a distant family member or a digital 'pen-pal'. People I had never asked as well as people who admittedly, I had failed to extend empathy and compassion in their past times of need. As we spent time and are honest with God in the place of prayer, He will always find a way to fill us up and heal broken places.
Jesus didn't wash the disciples feet to get anything in return. He did it despite him knowing the betrayal and abandonment that lay ahead. Even after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples, shared meals with them and spent the next forty days prior to his ascension with them.
That morning, as I grabbed my keys to head out the door for church, my heart felt SO much lighter. I felt as though Jesus washed my feet. Me, so imperfect. Me, who unbeknownst to me had probably done the exact same thing and let down another who had called me a friend. Me who has on several occasions been selfish and failed to be compassionate to specific people. Me, entitled and demanding something I had at one point or another not given someone else. I had my feet, heart and mind washed by the Living Word that morning and I left ready to love, serve and extend compassion to anyone and everyone all over again.
*There are some situations (e.g. abuse) where we may be let down by someone we depended on/love that are dangerous and we are called to love from a distance. In the presence of wise counsel from leaders, community and professionals, build healthy boundaries. Determine those you will have to love and extend compassion to without them being actively involved in your life. Even with the desire to be the hands and feet of Jesus, exercise empathy and extend compassion, safety IS important.
Have a great week!