I’d love to tell you that the story of how Kyle and I met was like a fairytale or your favorite feel-good romantic comedy. Honestly, it was messy…and not always pretty. Nothing about myself during those days did I love. I had barely survived a nasty, gut-wrenching break up that resulted in 75% of of my life having to change and not surprisingly, I was an emotional, man-hating mess. Kyle’s father had passed away just three months before and anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes with Kyle knows the relationship those two had. We were both working at a restaurant so during most of our conversations we smelled like a mixture of grease and grill smoke with a hint of whatever we had spilled on ourselves. Every day we saw each other wearing black pants and these over-starched striped button-ups, finished with think-soled black shoes. Hot, eh? I was so determined not to fall for him that during one of our roof-top hang outs, I cried, begging him not to pursue me, that I wasn’t to be trusted. Thankfully, he ignored me and for a reason unknown to me, stayed.
I was reminded of this this past weekend when I was having a rough few days. I was two weeks in with my new medication and dealing with some painful and annoying side effects, one of which is avoiding sunlight. For someone who hates staying inside and not socializing, this was probably one of the worst. This, coupled with the physical, was just exhausting. However, by looking or talking to me, you’d think I was doing great. But I wasn’t. At all.
I consider myself a really strong person, spiritually and emotionally. It takes something or someone pretty intense to break through and cause some damage and unfortunately, when it does, I pretty much go into denial until either A) I have a meltdown or B) someone who knows me really well calls me out. This particular Saturday was a mixture of both so after some tears were shed, I went to the only place that truly brings me life & peace–Jesus.
I started reading John 13-Jesus washes the disciples feet-a passage I’ve read/heard dozens of time. However, this time, something was different. As I was reading it, I read it–felt it–from the perspective of Peter. At the time, the role-reversing event was shocking enough. But imagine Peter, days later, reflecting back on the last few days, drowning in guilt and grief. Then, he suddenly remembers. Jesus, Son of God, King of Kings, had known Peter would deny him and out of all the actions he could have done in his last days, washed his feet, the dirtiest and most despised place on his body. Imagine how Peter must have felt. Humbled? Crushed? Heartbroken? Speechless?
What greater picture of the love, intent, and desire of Jesus is there than this. Jesus went to the man who was supposed to live a life worthy of the title of “disciple” yet denied him when it truly mattered–and not only this, went to this man’s feet and with bare hands, washed them. When Peter tried to stop him, Jesus said–unless you let me do this, you can have no part of me.
How often I’m like Peter. I try to hide my sin, my shame, my frustration, my weakness, thinking this will make me more ‘worthy’ in Papa’s eyes. I go to God boldly in my strength yet walk meekly to him in my weakness. So easily I forget that since the beginning of time, He knew. And He loved me extravagantly anyway. What leaves me absolutely astounded is when Jesus told Peter that unless he let Jesus wash his feet, he could have no part of him. Could this really mean that unless we let Jesus take the parts of us we despise the most–the ugliest, the most shameful, the most embarrassing–we can’t truly understand and embrace the fullness of the one who desires us to walk so intimately with him? Could this even mean that those parts are actually the parts of us He desires the most?
This kind of love is indescribable. When we feel we are at our worst and are given pure, unadulterated love, the very core of who we are is made complete. I look back to when I first met Kyle and it’s hard to try and imagine why he stayed…and more so, I think back to Saturday and all the other times when I tried to hide my weaknesses from God and smile. Our shame is not shameful to God. Our ugly isn’t ugly to God. He loves us so purely that it is his delight to take our ugly and make it beautiful. This is when HIS love is made complete as it is the very essence of who He is and what He desires to do. He doesn’t need perfection or beauty. He simply needs me. And you. And everyone else who is willing to take off your shoes, sit back, and let the one who is most Holy yet most humble, sit at your feet…and wash you. We don’t have to do a thing–just sit. Be free. And let him be who He is.