When my mother returned home from a mission trip to Cambodia, I asked her, "Did you see the giant building where they train all the people to do nails?"
It's true that almost anywhere you go in this country, there are people from war-torn, impoverished other countries working in nail salons. These people left Cambodia, or Vietnam, or Thailand to come to this country...and clean the callouses off my feet.
I have very mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I love getting a pedicure. I'll go with a girlfriend and sit in the comfy chair while my feet are massaged and beautified. We'll gossip or read trashy magazines and just indulge ourselves for a bit. We'll leave with pretty feet and our sanity temporarily restored.
On the other hand, I feel bad that another human being is touching my nasty feet for a living. And then, when I start talking to these people, I feel even worse. I remember last year, when I was pregnant. The woman painting my toes asked me if I was having a boy or a girl. When I told her I was expecting a boy, she smiled.
I asked her if she had any kids. She said she did, a little boy. He was four years old, still living in Vietnam. She was saving enough money to bring him to the U.S., but in the meantime, he was being raised by her aunt. She then returned to cleaning my feet.
I gave her a ten dollar tip, but my money did not pay off the guilt.
Why am I so lucky that I have not had to make such hard choices? Could I leave Owen or Joel behind, even temporarily, in the hopes of making a better future for them? Could I see them grow up through photographs, all the while counting on tips and the kindness of others to bring them back into my arms?
I haven't had to answer those questions, and I pray I never do.
I don't think I'm going to stop getting pedicures, because that certainly won't help reunite families or provide needed income. And let's be honest---my feet are really gnarly.
Instead, I'm going to think of another person, who lived under a foreign rule (The Roman Empire, in this case), who also bowed down before a basin and washed the dirty, worn feet of his friends. Jesus knew fear---he faced pain for us all. Jesus knew loss--he missed his home, his heavenly Father. Jesus knew that sometimes the greatest act of divinity comes from doing the humblest of tasks.
For now, I'm going to allow my Cambodian and Thai and Vietnamese sisters to wash my feet, knowing that the day will come where I will somehow, in some way, do the same for them.