A Liturgy for the Changing of Diapers
I’ve often struggled with wondering - at the end of an exhausting day, where nothing particularly impressive has been done - have I really made any difference at all? It can be really easy to look in the wrong places for tangible evidence of self worth. Serving in a particular ministry at church can have immediate positive effects to the people around you. The pull to “keep up” with friends and spend time with each of them to assure them of their importance in your life can feel powerful. Attending or organizing events, coaching a team, bringing a meal to a neighbor, attempting to look really “put together” to impress everyone with how well you are managing life…all of these things can unearth fears and make you wrestle with what really matters. So easily we seek horizontally for the rest that we can only find vertically.
It has been a long and painful process to truly believe (and embrace) that my ministry is first to my family. And ministry to family can sometimes feel so…hard. It can feel repetitive, thankless, insignificant and invisible. But when I believe that the way I love my family directly effects their heart towards Jesus, it gives perspective and meaning.
“I would remember this truth: My unseen labors are not lost, for it is these repeated acts of small sacrifice that - like bright, ragged patches - are slowly being sown into a quilt of lovingkindness that swaddles this child.”
The day in and day out mundane, repeated acts of sacrifice are all pieces that, together, wrap my children in love. Responding in gentleness and grace, changing wet bedsheets in the middle of the night for the 5th straight night, making lunches for school while everyone is still sleeping, folding yet another load of laundry, the changing of a diaper,…all these things are opportunities to teach love and sacrifice. The way I do these things matters. The way that I love matters.
I am not just changing a diaper. By love and service I am tending a budding heart that, rooted early in such grace-filled devotion, might one day be more readily inclined to bow to your compassionate conviction.”
I am not just making a sandwich. I am not just cleaning a bloodied knee. I am not just soothing a panicked child who has woken up from another bad dream. I am not just driving to the fifth practice of the week. I am nurturing a budding heart. I am caring for a tender child. I am leading by example. I am, through my own deep need of a Savior, teaching my children obedience, kindness, care and love.
“Open my eyes that I might see this act for what it is from the fixed vantage of eternity, O Lord - how the changing of a diaper might sit upstream of the changing of a heart; how the changing of a heart might sit upstream of the changing of the world.”
But here’s the deal, none of this is possible without Jesus. You are going to mess up. You are bound to disappoint. You will inevitably say something that you shouldn’t. Looking to people, popularity or position for inner self worth never satisfies. Our best intentioned acts of service, our carefully thought out plans - they all fall flat. Because we can only give from what we have been given, in Christ. If we are not consistently filled with His truth, we cannot give truth. If we are not resting in the deep abiding love of Jesus, we will not give love. Our only hope is Christ in us. That’s why the reality that Jesus has become our righteousness is so precious. His grace has forever freed us from needing to prove our worth. So maybe that’s what we need to teach our children most of all - that we need Jesus. Because out of that, flows everything else.
- by Joanna Candy