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I descended the stairs, immediately irritated by what was awaiting me with each scream originating from my 15-year-old son.

Great, I muttered as the uninvited stench rose to greet my nose. Luke, my son with profound special needs, required yet another diaper change—a chore that was becoming increasingly able to grate my very last nerve over the past few weeks as his father recovered from shoulder surgery—a recovery period that did not allow for diaper changes.

I opened the door slightly and held my breath. The third of the day so far.

My least favorite job in the whole world.

I did what was necessary—cleaned my big 15-year-old man child, and as I prepared to leave, he reached for my face, met my eyes and sang in his sweet jumbled way,

Oh God you are my God, and I will ever praise you.

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He repeated the words until I agreed to join in with his childlike faith and delight, and I did, slowly, and a little unwillingly because the smell still lingered in the air.

We sang together, over and over, which elicited a smile as big as the universe as he waved his head back and forth in rhythm to the music.

Oh God you are my God, and I will ever praise you.

I will ever praise you.

Ever? Always? Even in stinky, smelly, crappy times?

Praise you in everything, Lord?

Even in having to change my 15-year-old man-child’s diaper? With no end in sight? Not even a potty-training goal?

Our family has experienced our fair share of crap lately—literally and metaphorically: Luke’s stretch in PICU, Ryan’s surgery, a broken foot and health issues, numerous bouts of the flu, contracts dissolved, questions, concerns, and a neverending quarantine with eight children.

RELATED: To the Special Needs Parents in Crisis Mode

It’s what I preach, right? Thankfulness in the tragedies of life? Choosing joy in the stank? Choosing to just keep living?

Luke finished his song, and I knelt to put his socks and shoes on. Me—author, teacher, and non-profit CEO, titles that bear no significance to my son but what does matter is that I continue to meet his needs—changing diapers, feeding, and kneeling before him as I serve the least of these.

Many years ago, a man named Jesus also knelt to serve, setting aside his titles: Messiah, God, and Creator. He washed dirty feet and associated with outcasts and then prostrated himself before humanity as the nails pierced his hands and his body lurched forward in agony. He humbled himself before the least of these: the leper, the whore, the cripple, the thief, and even you and me.

Jesus walked among the broken in body and in spirit.

Those who relied upon the generosity of normal everyday folks for their next breath; those who probably couldn’t control their bladders or put shoes on without assistance—Jesus was found among the Lukes of the world doing what needed to be done; serving in whatever capacity their needs required.

Jesus would have changed Luke’s diaper. 

These daily moments—kneeling, holding my breath, moments of holy annoyance which involve mundane work—holy like washing filthy feet; holy like hanging out with a leper; holy like being broken and bruised for all of us.

RELATED: God is Not Done, and He is Good

Today, many are walking the Via Dolorosa, “the way of grief” as they walk a difficult journey. The air feels thick with hopeless despair because the night is black and silent, and souls are screaming in quiet desperation,

It is finished! We are finished!

And yes, life as we know it is finished; it will never be the same.

But . . . 

Hold on.

Hold on with every ounce of strength that remains within your weary soul because life is always intertwined with death. It is the way of the world. Sunday morn is around the bend, and the page will flip. The Lukes will leap for joy and the blind shall see and —when the stone is rolled away—remember the time in isolation and despair.

Remember how we were tucked away in lonely crevices—do this in remembrance of me—the bread and the wine, the body and blood spilled for us. May this remembrance lead to an ongoing resurrection as we serve in uncomfortable spaces holding unpleasant smells, washing feet and changing diapers if need be—the reverent places of vulnerability and long silences often held in nursing homes, dingy hotel rooms, AA meetings, and special needs classrooms—tending to the holiest of work as we care for the least of these.

May this be our gift to the One who gave it all.

A resurrected perspective.

A holy shift in attitude.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Originally published on the author’s blog

Jess Ronne

I’m an author, teacher, wife, non-profit director, special needs advocate and mom of 8. A few years back, we traded in our Michigan snow shovels for humidity and sweet tea in the South & we’ve never looked back. You’ll often find me on social media chatting about faith, grief, food, simplicity, blended families, gardening, special needs, and everything else in between. 

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