What does being an abuse survivor have to do with foot washing and people trying to steal my yoga mat? The answer…EVERYTHING!
Being on ANY healing journey is no cake walk (I’m way past the point of judging my pain as worse than anyone else’s), but it DOES come with its funny moments. And being that I am now years into my own intentional healing journey, I’ve learned to laugh at so many more of these awkward human moments and triggers of mine than crying at them or even worse—shame spiraling because of them.
Self-awareness has been my golden fruit from healing.
That’s why I didn’t judge myself this morning when a lady I’d never seen before tried to take my mat at yoga class to position it on the floor and I bravely told her “NO.” True…I was a LITTLE worried she was gonna take my mat and run. But I think the even bigger issue for me was that she was Ms. Unknown Authority Figure trying to tell me what to do in a newer environment. And being that there were a million people milling about and bumping into me just a few minutes prior, clutching that yoga mat tightly to my chest was a shield of protection to my VERY being.
And nobody was gonna steal my safety in that moment.
Plus…she’d already bossed me around a bit a few minutes before when she told me where to put my UGG boots away—outside in the hallway WITH the million people. I already knew the information actually, and she probably didn’t love me in that moment when I told her I’d prefer to keep them inside with me. Again…a million people that I didn’t know and expensive boots. Need I say more? Besides…those boots are basically my bff since I’ve had them for ten years and fixed them numerous times.
They aren’t just a possession now—we’re in a relationship. 😉
I made sure to engage Ms. Unknown Authority Figure in conversation a few minutes later just to let her know I wasn’t a complete insubordinate smuck. But did I feel bad about telling her no and not doing what she wanted? Nope. I value my boots and I value my yoga mat, and I’m never an ass about it. I made sure to politely explain my reasons for not doing what she requested, though I made sure to leave out the part about my weird fear of someone stealing my stuff. I had to keep some decorum after all.
But onto my foot-washing fiasco…
I think it’s cool that Jesus washed his disciples feet as a model for servant leadership. I can totally track with the metaphorical meaning of it all. And the modality of leadership that serves its followers is actually one of my core values: empower rather than control those who drink from your spiritual stream.
But do I actually LIKE the practical experience of foot washing or desire it to play out in my own life? My answer: Noooooooooooo. Nope. Not at all.
And yet, I’ve actually had way more awkward moments with it…and not by choice I might add…than I would have liked. The latest one happening just a couple weeks ago before I could even choose to opt out. It just sort of slid into my world covertly through the trojan horse of spiritual blessing.
“Follow me,” a new acquaintance at church said to me that night. “We have a surprise for you.”
Oh boy… A surprise?
I actually HATE surprises from people I barely know—but I didn’t tell her that. I just followed her like an obedient puppy, making sure to keep my eye rolls inside my head. My next trigger happened when I stood next to an unknown door with a handful of people, while I listened to a very sweet and genuine man tell me why he valued me.
Did I remember ANY of what he said post-speech? Nope—I wish. Like I said, it was VERY sweet.
I was just overly aware in that moment that about six people had their eyes on me, watching my every reaction. I was trying to focus on my breathing, while making an occasional furtive glance down the hall towards a possible exit route.
What followed said speech was a period of suspense (another trigger) as I waited for what was to come. And then came the request for me to close my eyes, as Mr. Random Guy took me by the hand and let me INTO the unknown room to do unknown things.
Can you say abuse-survivor recipe for disaster?
Two years ago I probably would have pretended to spontaneously break my foot or something in order to get out of that moment. But because I KNEW in my heart that I wasn’t in any real danger—even though my limbic brain thought that I was, I decided to let the whole weird thing play out. Come what may.
And I decided to play my trust card with God.
So yes, I actually let Mr. Random Guy walk me blindly into the room. And when he backed me up in a corner and had me sit down in a chair, the first thought that shot through my mind was: “Oh God, just NOT a foot washing.”
Cue eye opening…and what did I see? Yep. You guessed it: a water basin below me and an acquaintance sitting beside me ready to wash my feet—which I figured meant that she’d have to actually TOUCH my feet.
Did I mention that being touched in areas that are usually covered by clothes or shoes is another no no for me? Shocker, right? Go figure.
So I took a deep breath, fake smiled, and tried to pull off my boots to get this awkward process started.
“Oh no, I’ll take them off for you. You just sit back and relax”, she said.
Fat chance, I thought. But I let her struggle with taking my boots and socks off anyway and just tried NOT to laugh. I’m a nervous laugher usually, but in this case it was because I like my boots super tight and she was having a REALLY hard time getting them off.
I made it through the whole freaky foot washing though.
A lot of other laughable things happened in that fifteen-minute, foot-washing fiasco. But let me sum up by saying that the whole situation ended up NOT being that terrible. It was filled with tons of triggers and awkward moments, yes, but also a lot of beauty. And I got so many laughs out of the post experience and saw so much evidence of my own healing growth that I was thankful.
I’m thankful for a lot of things these days.
I’m thankful I didn’t scream and run down the hall towards that exit. I’m thankful I didn’t pretend to spontaneously break my foot. I’m thankful I didn’t cuss anyone out or punch anyone in the face. And I’m thankful that I’m still in community with all the foot-washing offenders to this date—even though one of them covertly tricked me into doing a foot washing for somebody else the following week.
But that’s another story….