Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jeannie Prinsen for a summer series highlighting great writers who focus on disability.
“Whatever you do, even if you help somebody cross the road,
you do it to Jesus.
Even if you give somebody a glass of water,
you do it to Jesus.
Such a simple little teaching, but it is so important.”
– Mother Teresa
One of the hallmarks of Mother Teresa’s life and mission was that she saw Jesus in the suffering people she served.
I have tried to take this approach to those God has called me to serve — like certain members of my family — I try to see the face of Jesus in them, and to minister to them with joy and humility.
This plan usually lasts for about… ten minutes.
The problem is:
Jesus does not ask me to tape or glue broken jigsaw puzzle pieces 20 times in an hour, or need to be reminded 19 out of those 20 times to say “Please.”
Jesus is not in the habit of yelling with rage when I tell him that this is blue-box week, not grey-box week, or that we go to church on Sundays, not Saturdays.
Jesus never screams (with hand up to mouth for increased megaphone effect) when told that it’s time to get ready for supper, and does not need to be told ten times to go to the bathroom and wash his hands.
Jesus does not say, “Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom?”
And Jesus does not wait to say, “Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom?” until I have gone downstairs to the laundry room, and then say it louder.
Jesus does not make a point of shrieking when we back the car in the driveway.
Jesus does not need his underwear changed three times a day.
Jesus does not, when given a time-out alone in his room, take that opportunity to wet his pants.
So it can be a little difficult to see service to certain people in my life as service to Jesus.
But then again …
Even after I have said harsh words like “Stop it!” “Don’t talk to me!” and “Could you leave me alone for five minutes?” Jesus’ face lights up when he sees me again.
Even after I roll my eyes, let out long sighs, and seethe with irritation, Jesus catches my eye and asks me to play “sad face” or comes to sit on my lap to squish me “flat like a pancake.”
And although I say goodbye to Jesus in the schoolyard each morning and walk away feeling (I confess) guiltily relieved that I won’t be seeing him for another six-and-a-half hours, I come back in the afternoon and scan the crowd, eager to see him coming.
Jesus never holds anything against me. He never bad-mouths me or anyone else he knows. He doesn’t give me the cold shoulder or tell me I need to make it up to him before he’ll smile at me. He is always glad to see me.
He loves me. I am special and dear to him.
So maybe Mother Teresa was right when she said this is “a simple little teaching.” Maybe I just need to pay more attention to my simple little teacher.
Jeannie Prinsen lives in Kingston, Ontario with her husband Richard, her daughter Allison, and her son Jonathan (about whom this post, “You do it to Jesus,” was written). She teaches an online university course called “Fundamentals of Academic Essay Writing,” which is no more – or less – interesting than it sounds. Jeannie blogs at Little House on the Circle about faith, family, special needs, reading, writing, and whatever else interests her. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.