During my years as a pastor’s wife, I’ve received my share of persecution from church members. One particular time came when a friend of mine spread some gossip about me. Although the rumors weren’t true, it damaged my reputation as a trusted leader within the church.
When I found out about it, I was devastated.
How could a friend do that to me?
How could she be so cruel and heartless?
As one of my first hurtful experiences within the church, I didn’t know what to do with my feelings.
I wanted to retaliate.
I wanted to yell and scream.
I wanted to make her feel as bad as she made me feel.
Above all, I wanted revenge.
In my grief, I cried out to God. How can I handle this pain in a godly way?
One day, he showed me.
On a women’s retreat, I spent the morning getting ready. As I dressed and began my morning routine, I heard God whisper softly into my heart: Wash their feet.
I wasn’t sure what I had heard. Had I been right? Wash their feet.
I searched the kitchen of the retreat facility, scouring it for a basin and a towel. All I could find was a stainless steel bowl and a hand towel. It would have to be good enough.
Still confused about the unexpected calling, I kept it to myself.
The speaker at the retreat began her second session of the day and preached on Matthew 5:43-45:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
Then I knew. I had been right all along.
Through my tears, I announced I would sit up in the small loft area above the main meeting area and that God was calling me to wash their feet. I assuaged their fears about being vulnerable, and let them know it was more uncomfortable for me then it would be for them.
I took my place up in the small loft and sat in silence, hoping at least one person would appear. I situated the basin near a bench that each woman could sit on. One by one, each woman sat down. I knelt beside them, gently dousing their feet with lukewarm water. I took the towel and dabbed every inch of their foot until they were completely dry. My nerves slowly melted away; I was actually enjoying it.
Then she appeared.
She sat down on the bench, took my hand and said, “I should be the one washing your feet.” I let go of her hand and I placed her foot in the water. She, in a place of authority wiping her tears away as she stared down at me, I hunched over the basin looking up at her, washing the feet of my Judas. My one chance to retaliate, my ultimate revenge, all washed away in the stainless steel basin that day. Instead of hands clenched in revenge, I opened my heart to let the crimson- stained love of my savior in. I didn’t need my feet washed—my heart was already clean.
It was the sweetest revenge of all. Instead of temporarily bandaging the wound of my heart by getting revenge, I let my savior heal it instead through service.
We all have had a Judas in our lives, someone whom you trusted with the key to your heart that takes the key and throws it away. Your tendency is to want to seek revenge against them. But God offers us a different way:
When someone damages your reputation, serve him.
When someone spreads lies about you, pray for her.
When someone hates you, love her.
Because demonstrating the unconditional love of Jesus is the sweetest revenge of all.
Wow, this is such a powerful post! As one who has served alongside her Pastor and Pastor’s wive for over 17 years, I’ve seen this. What a beautiful display of forgiveness.
I am going through a very difficult time and this went right along with the advice my spiritual sister gave me. I would appreciate your prayers. last Sunday I would have been “killed” by a fellow church lady if her eyes had been weapons.
Oh my gosh ! Thank you ALL for your beauty and honesty. Today is my daughter’ s 23rd birthday, and she is awesome ! Filled with Grace and Truth, Loving like our Messiah ! Two people very close have been slanderous about me, and it has enraged me. This evening, I walked into the kitchen, and had a visual image of my daughter’s beautiful face and blue eyes, and I know that pursuing revenge will only hurt HER. Then, the face of Jesus was next in my mind. How can I hurt HIM ? Vengeance is God’s alone, and He wants me to pursue peace, make love my aim, and BELIEVE~ ALL things are possible with Him. Matthew West’s song “Forgiveness” is incredible, and this gorgeous and humble act of humility by washing your sisters feet has caused me to turn away from retaliation! How may I Thank You?! Please Lord, teach me how to love the unlovable, (as I am Myself !).
Bev Brandon says
Precious story! My husband lost his church of 27 years. “He wasn’t a good fit.” Best thing that ever happened to me. I found God in ways I never imagined. I’m more alive than I’ve ever been. This week in chapel, a friend shared with us: “To forgive is to set the prisoner free, only to find that I was the prisoner.” Loved your story of freedom.
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
Wow…this brought tears to my eyes! How powerful that God cared so much about your pain that he whispered to you the secret of His peace…wash their feet. What a beautiful reminder that if we will just listen to God’s urging, He ultimately has our best in mind. A trusted friend has hurt me deeply by wounding my daughter. I have prayed daily for her…now I need to “wash her feet”.
Thank you for sharing. What a powerful reminder!
Lori Alexander says
The way we conquer our enemies is by obeying God’s Word; heap burning coals upon their head, namely, pour love upon them. Your story is a beautiful illustration of this.
Thanks for the reminder. I really needed this right now. My heart has been harden so much in the past 10 yrs. because of job loss,my marriage falling apart, people taking advantage of me, I just need do be reminded God wants us to love our enemies.
I will pray you come to know God is completely sovereign and ‘faithful are the wounds of a friends”..
Julie Sunne says
Wow, I’m amazed by the obedience of some women (and men) to the calling of God on their heart. You, Michelle, are one of them. Thank you for showing us that the path to a life in Christ is to emulate Him, even in something as difficult as you endured.
Vulnerability is so much like humility. To truly love and show love to our enemies is hard, but necessary. Thank you for being obedient and sharing your testimony.
I was looking through the comments and Lakeca your’s hit home with me. I have never been so undone as when I was reading this post. Just this morning, I made a phone call to offer an apology for some harsh words I spoke yesterday. I was wide open vulnerable !! I wanted to let you know that post touched me as the writer of this blog. I thank you !!
Amber kemp says
I absolutely love this. It spoke to my heart. So often times I have hoped that certain friendships would flourish, but instead they have wound up down a path of destruction. I think it’s important to remember that when people hurt us, we must not seek justice but instead seek The Lord. When I give it to God my heart is filled with peace and I can then be at a place where I can pray for them. Thankful that God gives us discernment, he gives us compassion, but most importantly he gives us grace.
This was beautiful. It’s hard. I don’t think I could have done what you did with the basin, but God certainly blessed your obedience. And now, you share with others that seeking vengeance is not God’s way.
Trish Cordell says
What a beautiful testimony to your obedience to God. This truly touched and blessed my heart. I am encouraged by what you wrote. Thank you for sharing. Blessings to you an yours. 🙂
Debbie Shawver says
Thanks for sharing!! The Unconditional love of Jesus is the sweetest revenge of all! Love that!
Debbie Putman says
A beautiful story showing God’s Truth works for each of us. Thanks for sharing. Your words will linger and help me in my own walk with God.
O dear, I did not read this.
Unless you wash the feet of a person you cannot be real intimate with them.
For example our husband’s. We play footie with them, right. You would never let a person close to your feet unless you trust them completely.
So you find your sons and daughters and grandchildren play with your feet. Husbands.
I have never washed anyone’s feet. And I only play with my husband’s feet. Or my kids or grandchildren.
You connect and bond very deeply when you wash a person’s feet. Or touch them.
I’ve would probably not got that far yet with friends and stuff.
Just a thought in this discussion. Right.
It’s the heart. A heart bonding. Unwavering that cannot be broken.
Hold this thought and be blessed. We are all learning and growing together.
And if a friend loves more they would give you exactly what you asked them for. A greater love.
I want this …… cos I love this more than you.
The heart is crucified with Christ. Guard the heart.
Jessica N says
Amazing. Exactly what I’ve been walking/wrestling with for a few months. Thank you thank you thank you.
Wonderful the way God takes our deepest hurts into his hands and brings such beauty. Thank you for sharing with us.
Thank you for sharing your heart…it really spoke to mine. Why in the world did I bother with mascara this morning?!
Patty Muich says
you have no idea how much I needed to hear this……wow….
Wow, that’s a wonderful account. So that’s what the sweetness of Jesus
in our lives and the fruit of being obedient looks like. Instead of waiting
for God to take His vengeance ( vengeance is Mine, I will repay)
we can rest in the knowledge that love will heal the breach, healing us
first as well as the offender. Thanks for sharing! Your situation was much
more difficult to deal with than some of the things I’d been mulling over
in the past so I’m glad to see your example and triumph. Every ill will or thought
captured by love and humility in Jesus is a victory.
Wow. The thing is when you serve you get nothing in return, when you take revenge you get your reward but God loses His job and you hurt someone. When you serve God handles you enemies. This has happened to me, ppl took from me and wiped their hands as if nothing was done. But God tells me how ive hurt others and since He ses every hurt He will repay we simply need to obey
Wow. This. Yes.
I love how you turned this negative experience into a chance to serve and love…I had a friend once who spread untruths about me…I even lost other friends who believed her lies…It was hard…I didn’t wash her feet, but I was able to let it go and forgive.
Nancy Ruegg says
Thank you, Michelle, for sharing this wonderful example of humility.
Help me, Lord, to remember Michelle’s story. What glorious miracles you work when we are vulnerable for you!
Shelly Hendricks (@Renewed_Daily) says
Beautiful story, this brought tears to my eyes. I was only recently, after years of pain, able to fully let go of hurts I didn’t even realize I had been hugging close to me. It was so freeing and it didn’t feel like failure at all. It felt like God was finally in control, and things have come from that which I never thought were possible. Now I’m excited to see what else the Father has in store!
So very powerful. Wow.
That is absolutely beautiful! I praise God that you listened to Him and He showed you just what to do – His will indeed.
Oh my, my heart is breaking again. a few years ago the woman who was then one of my 2 closest friends together with my husband of 30+ years betrayed me. My husband left me for 3 months but returned. Still we are trying to rebuild the trust that was damaged …
God has (I believe) protected me by not physically “running into” her/them even though we live close to each other. She had become a Christian during the period of our friendship and was attending Church with us. She has not attended a Church since but has remained friends with my friends from Church.
On Saturday I had a text from her saying that as they were preparing for her son’s 21st they were thinking of us and the impact we had on their sons life and my heart ached again with pain and loss and grief …
I WANT to let this go, I NEED to let this go BUT ….. my heart still aches
Janis@Heart-Filled Moments says
This really ministered to me!
alina y says
Thank you for this post. Thank you for showing me the right way to react when I am in the same situation. Sometimes I just need someone to show me how to really use Gods word in real life. Thank you for showing love and forgiveness. I really want to be like Jesus.
Beth Williams says
Great post@! I’m proud of you for listening to God and not allowing the need for revenge take over. Sometimes people may not realize the words they say can hurt and hurt badly and deep.
We all need to stop and listen to God more in our quiet places, just shut the noise and din of this world out. Then we could truly be more Christ-like!
Great Story. I am going through something similar with my sister in law . She turned against me and hates me and had spread stuff about me to the rest of my husbands family and now they all hate me. It causes me much pain. I have not sort revenge and have not wanted to. I have tried to love my enemy. In the Pastor wife’s story it says you should pray for you enemy . My question is what would you pray ?
I have struggled to love my Judas. I serve and love her, but the hurt nags. I see I still need to be washed in forgiveness. Thank you.