It’s a good thing my shoes were already off, because I was standing on holy ground. Sometimes Jesus walks in the room at the most unexpected times and places. Although they are really only unexpected to us. In my mind, I would be surrounded and enveloped by His presence that morning at church. You know, while worshiping Him. He likes to surprise me though, and showed up that day in the bathroom of an assisted living facility.
My mother is currently living in this facility as her body has been losing mobility over the last couple of years due to a neurological condition called PSP. This transition from home to assisted living was not something she wanted to do, and checking her in was a day full of much grief and many tears.
This past Sunday we picked my mom up and took her to church with us, which was a lovely morning as we had an outdoor service followed by a barbecue. She had asked me prior to this if I would give her a shower after church as the assisted living facility is currently understaffed and not able to provide help with showers every day. My mother has never been one to skip a shower, so this was very important to her. I nervously agreed as this was uncharted territory for me. My dad had asked me to help with the shower once when my mom was still living at home and I said, “No, I’m not quite ready for that yet.”
My reluctance to help her bathe came with a slight twinge of guilt. How many times had she tenderly cleansed my delicate skin in the kitchen sink, or knelt over the tub, washcloth in hand, to make sure every one of my body parts were properly scrubbed? When the roles became reversed however, there was hesitation in my heart.
I decided to bring my seven year old daughter with me to help with the shower as I figured she would provide me some moral support. Kids tend to lighten the mood and offer comedic relief to a difficult situation. I felt grateful to have Eva with me, and knew she would want to help as well.
My nervousness was immediately calmed as I discovered this task was not as awkward or challenging as I assumed. I was able to safely maneuver my mother and keep her from slipping. Eva helped by squirting the body wash into the wash cloth, and pumping the shampoo and conditioner into my hands before massaging it into Grammy’s hair. After I lifted her safely back into her wheelchair wrapped in a couple of warm towels, Eva asked if she could comb and blow-dry Grammy’s hair. “Of course!” was my reply. I then proceeded to take a step back and allow my daughter to take over this loving task.
That’s the moment I felt God’s tangible presence in the bathroom. With a tender, yet serious look in her eye, Eva set to her work of running the comb through Grammy’s wet hair. Her movements- so natural and graceful. No-one had to teach her how to do this. This God-given desire to nurture and care for someone in need. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” What I was witnessing was a young girl fully operating in these gifts without anyone asking her to do so. No wonder God was so close to us in that moment you could reach out and touch Him. It was the embodiment of peace. A loving hug like no other.
Eva continued her work plugging the blow dryer into the wall and slowly moving the machine back and forth, up and down Grammy’s thick, gray hair. The gentle hum of the dryer, warm air, and relaxing brushing of her hair, led Grammy to close her eyes and fall into a short slumber. Eva then proceeded to smooth her hair with the comb and added a small flip at the bottom leaving her “do” looking as professional as possible.
Nurture, care, attention to detail- it’s how God wired women. After His resurrection, the first people Jesus appeared to were women coming to lovingly care for his body (Luke 24). Of course He would walk into a room where a granddaughter and daughter were lovingly caring for a woman who had once cared for them. At the same time, demonstrating that He is Emmanuel, meaning “God with us,” as His presence comforts my mother in new and uncharted territory.
I am a child of God, a wife to Seth, and a mother to James, Luke, and Eva. The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I became a “new creation” at the age of 23 when I surrendered my life to Jesus and was delivered from a decade of depression. Read more...