I want to be very real with you.
Marriage is hard.
It’s hard when two different people begin to live together in the same house. People with different habits, different views, different ways of doing things. It’s hard when two different [sinful] people try to become one flesh.
This particular day was one of the more difficult days. Those days where, even though you’ve read every marriage book you can get your hands on, you’re still a sobbing heap sitting cross-legged on the floor of your living room.
You said something you shouldn’t. You did something you shouldn’t. You let your selfishness and pride win again. You hurt your spouse. Who’s now in the other room… the silence becoming more deafening with each passing second. Neither one sure how to break it, what to say, what to do.
I felt like… lately… we had been having quite a few of those days. Nothing major… just an undercurrent of unrest in our marriage. We had allowed petty arguments to happen. We had allowed each other to get on our nerves. We had failed to “keep showing up” as my mother-in-law writes in her… you guessed it… book on marriage.
I remember asking God how to hit “reset” on our marriage… to get back to the “madly in love” type of relationship from before our marriage and on our honeymoon. I remember being so confused, unsure of what the “truth” was anymore, and needing God to desperately answer the deep cries of my heart.
To be a better wife.
To put my selfishness and pride aside.
To truly forgive myself for my part in the string of difficult days.
To humbly cross the barrier that we had allowed to be built between us.
I remember praying all of this and God speaking clearly to me, “Work on yourself. Trust me with Mitchell.”
I don’t mind sharing with you my answer… or really my question back to God, “How? How do I work on myself? How is working on myself a “fix” for my relationship with my husband?“
I moved on about my day… bummed and feeling down… unable to shake the feeling that I had messed up too much to be forgiven… that my mistakes were beyond repair.
Now, I just want to clarify–the “mistakes” that I was so down about?
A harsh word.
A prideful heart.
A rude and hurtful comment.
Nothing too “big” in the grand scheme of things but enough to hurt my heart because I had hurt my spouse.
And so, I found myself upset, willing to correct these mistakes but unsure how.
So… my solution?
A bubble bath.
Bubble baths always seem to help.
My in-laws just moved, and the house that they now live in has a huge tub. So, I went over to their house to take a bubble bath to celebrate a recent accomplishment–passing a counseling certification test. As I settled into their ginormous tub with essential oil bubble bath, music playing on a portable bluetooth speaker, and a candle burning on the counter, I saw a waterproof Bible. I opened it up–intrigued, really, that it was waterproof, but when I opened the Bible, the passage that I had turned to was John 13–Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.
Instantly, I was back in 2009 on my Senior trip on the coast of Georgia. It was before I got saved, but I believe the experience would have been ingrained in my heart and mind–saved or not. I remember the chaperones of this trip–my teachers and my coaches–read John 13, and then to my surprise, they bent down and began to wash our feet. At first, my reaction was a mixture of humility and pride.
She can’t wash my feet! I’m undeserving of this. Doesn’t she know who I am… what I’ve done?
But I let my softball coach wash my feet anyway. The tears streamed down my face as God worked on my heart. I saw the gravity of my sin for the first time. I saw my need for a Savior.
Sitting in that bathtub, God spoke again jarring me back to the present. He said, “Wash Mitchell’s feet.”
I told God all of the reasons why that would be weird, why that wouldn’t work. You know the drill.
The message didn’t change.
Wash his feet.
I asked God how to hit the “reset” button on my marriage. I asked God what the truth was in the midst of this mess that I had created. And in His infinite grace and wisdom, He showed me just how to do that.
You see, feet are the nastiest parts of us. In Biblical times, feet would get very dirty from travel. Jesus washed His disciples’ feet as a symbol that He washes the dirtiest parts of us and makes us clean before God.
This task, in Jesus’ day, was reserved for servants. Jesus performing this task showed humility. The God of the universe humbled Himself, became a servant, washing us clean by dying on the cross.
So the next day, I grabbed a small bin that holds our medicine. I emptied it and filled it with warm water. I grabbed a dish rag from the kitchen, my orange loofa, and my body wash, and then I humbly led my husband into the room. I read John 13… and I washed his feet.
Washing Mitchell’s feet told him and mostly me two things.
- It was evidence that I will continuously choose forgiveness in our marriage, every single day… evidence that I was choosing to hit “reset” for him and myself.
- It was evidence of humility… choosing to accept blame even in times where I feel “in the right” and not in the wrong… evidence of choosing to wake up each day asking, “How can I worship God and serve God in my marriage?”
It’s harder now to get mad over minuscule issues… because I remember the day that I washed his feet.
It’s harder now to choose selfishness… because I remember the day that I washed his feet.
It’s harder now to do a lot of things… but do you know what became easier?
Submitting to him.
And choosing to wash his feet yielded beautiful consequences, the ones that I had been desperate for all along. He took my hand, helped me up from where I was kneeling on the floor, sat me down in the chair… and he washed mine.
In the words of Toby Mac… maybe it’s time to stop waging war… and time to start washing feet.