"Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him."
-John 13:1-5 (NLT) (bolded words mine)
Two of my sons were locked into an argument about which book belonged to whom. Neither would budge, both were being completely selfish.
"How can you two remember to get along?" I questioned them calmly.
"We can't," one growled a little through clenched teeth.
"Maybe you should get tattoos," I suggested. "Right on your forearm, we'll write 'I love my brother.' Possibly add a heart or a unicorn in there somewhere."
"I don't know, it's the modern era. People get tattoos all the time. A nicely inked reminder to love one another could do the trick. Of course, it's going to hurt a lot," I explained.
They laughed at me and it broke the spell on their greedy hands. Each boy was content with what he had and the argument dissolved into thin air.
The next morning I found these same two yahoos hugging each other in the midst of good morning greetings. That had never happened before.
I think I'm onto something here.
In my mind, I think I want my children to just do what I say. It would make life much more easy if they could simply get along because it's the right thing to do, eat healthy foods, have good attitudes about hard work, and love what is good and true about living the gospel.
But the truth is, they learn how to love one another from the way I love them. I must get down and wash some feet, no matter how dirty or messy it gets.
It is frustrating to raise these four humans who love to learn lessons the hard way, have a natural inclination to take the hardest road available, and kick back at any command or request that grinds against their flagrant sense of free will.
We can't take ourselves too seriously in the the midst of all the drama, though. We can't be above the mess, too holy to be honest about how hard it is to love others more than ourselves. We have years of this ahead of us, and we don't want to burn out before high school even begins.
So I make jokes about tattoos. I ask about girls (ew!). We talk about love and friendship. I tell them about the time I was a bully in second grade and made a little girl cry, and the day I got bullied in fourth and cried in the school bathroom. We share battle wounds, laugh at our mistakes, learn to treat one another with respect and honor, and boast about how God is becoming strong and mighty in our weaknesses.
I walk alongside them in this life. Together we are learning to embrace humility, sacrifice, and the beauty of being last in this world alongside the Lord we long to serve.
This is our version of modern parenting, full of quick-witted transparency and a deep love for Jesus.
I think I may get my own tattoo. Right there on my forearm, I would have it inked out,
"He has loved us to the very end."
Then, every time this motherhood gig hurts a lot, I will remember that the mess and the work is how I learn to be more like Him. The spell on my greedy heart will be broken, and I will be content with what He has placed in my hands.
I think I'm onto something here.