The current going rate for a pedicure where I live is somewhere around $35.
Now, while that might seem like not that much money to you, my economist-trained mind thinks of cost in terms of alternatives forgone.
$35 is at least half a week’s worth of groceries.
$35 is a bottomless Sunday brunch.
$35 is 6 bottles of Trader Joe’s wine.
$35 is an outfit from F21.
$35 is 7 Baked and Wired cupcakes.
$35 is two-thirds a bottle of Lancome’s Teint Idole ‘I Slay’ Ultra Foundation.
$35 is a utility bill payment, y’all.
Forget that my list of alternatives is like 90% food (food over everything btw) – point is, my feet get neglected a lot because other things just seem to take precedence over them.
But don’t our feet get neglected a lot in general? They do the most and get the dirtiest and yet get the least attention because they are the least visible. No one ever looks under their feet for anything. The only time you ever pay attention to your feet is when it starts to get warm out and people actually have to see them, and even THEN, they are not the priority, because worst case scenario you can cover them up. No one HAS to see your feet – like me you can hide them away in flats and converses until your next pedicure lol. Instead we focus on dressing up our hair, and our faces, and our hands and our bodies – the things that are most visible to everyone around us and to us ourselves.
I know what you’re thinking: “what’s up with the feet Eudora? Is this some sort of fetish?” But no, no fetishes here (that I know of).
The reason I’m so consumed with feet today is because this morning I found myself in the gospel of John reading about the last meal Jesus shared with his disciples during the Passover (John 13). Right in the middle of the meal, when everyone was about to pass their plates around for seconds, Jesus gets up from the table, walks into the kitchen, and returns in an apron and holding a wash cloth and a basin of water. He sets it down before them, and begins washing their feet, one after the other.
Of course Peter, being Peter, begins to protest:
Peter said, “Master, YOU wash MY feet?”
Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.”
Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!”
Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.”
“Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!”
Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you’re clean.
One can’t help but laugh at Peter’s commentary. He had to be the most confused disciple who ever lived – and yet he turned out to be one of the greatest Apostles too. He is a constant reminder of how God uses the unqualified to achieve great things if only they’ll allow Him to use them.
But I digress.
Most often, when we look at the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, we see a story of what it means to be a servant to others, and the life of servitude that God has called us to. But it’s more than just that. Jesus says to Peter: “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.” Peter’s response is, but I already took a bath! While Peter didn’t get it at the moment, what Jesus was trying to illustrate was not physical cleanliness, but spiritual cleanliness. Yes, Peter WAS spiritually clean. He had been baptized, and so his ‘body’ was clean. And yet, there remained parts of him that continuously found themselves dirty again, simply from walking through the mire and gunk of day-to-day living.
And we are no different from Peter.
We too find our feet dirtied on our way to wherever we’re headed – dirtied with sin, and shame, and hurt, and self-doubt and worry and pain. We have the appearance of cleanliness – of holiness – but there remain areas unseen that are covered in dirt. We don’t pay those areas much attention. We hide them away, while focusing on cleaning up the areas that are visible – the ones we and everyone else can see. But Jesus is trying to do with us the same thing he did with Peter. While he knows that we are already washed in his blood and cleansed of our sins, there is still a continual work that needs to happen, getting at those areas that we have neglected and kept hidden; those areas that are worn out and tired from the journey.
And we, also like Peter, object. We don’t want Jesus touching our dirt. We don’t mind sitting with him or sharing in his communion, but God forbid he whips out his washcloth and makes a beeline for our feet.
“No Jesus! Not the feet!”
“That area is too dirty for you to see.”
“That sin is too damning.”
“The shame is too unsightly.”
“My doubts are offensive.”
“My fears are unattractive.”
And Jesus responds to us the same way he responded to Simon Peter: “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.”
There is nothing I long more for than to fulfill my God-given purpose on this earth – but I also understand that there are things within me that will make it difficult. Some of my insecurities and feelings of inadequacy are just a few of the things I have found difficult to let Jesus get at, and I have kept hidden away and out of sight. And I know for a fact that these things have indeed kept me from a lot of the purposes and plans God has for me in this season. They have kept me from partaking in the fullness of what God has for me – kept me from being fully aware of what He is currently doing.
But I also recognize that if I did give him those things I’m ashamed of, if I allowed him to wash me of them and I became completely dependent on his sufficiency instead of my own, then together with him I would become unstoppable in my purpose.
So here’s a challenge for both you and me:
In my culture – and many others – it is customary to take off your shoes before entering someone’s house. Can we, the next time we find ourselves with an invitation to commune with Jesus, leave our shoes at the door? Can we bring to him those areas that we have kept hidden away for so long and yet bring us the most trouble? I know your feet are dirty and calloused – and maybe even a bit smelly – because life gets tough and so does walking it, but Jesus is in the business of washing feet. I promise you there is nothing hiding in between your toes that he hasn’t seen before. He wants access to those areas so he can make them clean, and so you can walk confidently into your purpose and His plans for you.
(And he’s not gonna charge 35 bucks for it 🙂 )