My mind wandered this morning to John 4 and the woman Jesus spoke with at the well. I’m often reminded of her when I look in the mirror in the mornings. Why had she come to this well to draw water alone? That was an activity the women usually did together. For safety. For social interaction.
I’ll guess why she was there alone. She felt shame. She was hiding.
Hiding from other women. From society. From her soiled reputation.
Guilt will always point out what I’ve done (which is healthy), but shame sneaks in and replaces my own name.
Hello, my name is (fill-in-the-blank).
- Fat girl
- Single Mom
Has shame ever replaced your name with something else?
It has replaced every one of the above names for my name at times throughout my life.
So there she was – sneaking away to get water, and that’s when she met Jesus – the man who would change the course of her life.
Jesus was sitting there alone, waiting on his disciples to get back from town with food. He asked her to draw him some water and you can almost hear her audible gasp.
“Who, me? I’m (fill-in-the-blank).” (Paraphrasing here.)
She actually said:
“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
Let’s stop a sec.
How many times over the past 16 years have I been asked to go get my husband? By a salesman? By a snarky married woman who knows I don’t have one? By a mean girl? I know what this feels like.
And the answer stammers it’s way out of my trembling mouth. My eyes glance down, or away.
“I, I… have no husband. He left me for someone else he got pregnant.”
Then Jesus spoke a truth that walked right through the solid, heretofore impenetrable walls around her heart:
“You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.”
Ouch. Yep. There it is.
But let’s be real. I’ve often wondered if there was a more shameful truth exposed here.
Can I just be honest? Every time I read this story I put myself in her place, but I imagine Jesus’ answer to me would be more like, “You’re right – since your husband left you’ve had 2 other women’s husbands and 2 boyfriends you let act like a husband.”
The fact that Jesus knows everything and chooses to forgive anyway and offer a second chance at life always astounds me. He did this same thing for me when I was in a similar place as that woman.
I want to address something else shame has done to me over the years. Because I was sexually assaulted, shame has said I’m damaged – permanently.
I hope you’ve never endured a sexual assault of any kind, but something tells me someone reading right now either has or knows someone who has.
It was not your fault. It wasn’t.
Shame likes to whisper that it was. Shame likes to whisper that if I just wouldn’t have opened the door it wouldn’t have happened.
That’s a lie.
Girl, lift your face.
Enter Jesus who replaced my name with who he says I am.
My name is:
The Samaritan woman in this story had looked for love all her life, but was handed counterfeited love. I’m not sure what happened. Like me, did her husband leave unexpectedly and take her hope and strength and dignity with him?
Jesus gave me back my hope and strength and dignity. And he wants to do the same for you.
I had to stop going back to the places I thought would give me the love I want so badly. It just made me thirsty for more so I just kept going back.
But I was never satisfied, because that was not love.
My Jesus met me where I was – even though I was trying to hide my shame from everyone. He gave me all the love I’ll ever want.
Trust me. I know what you might be saying. “But I want a husband’s arms to hold me and love me.”
I’ve cried myself to sleep more nights than I care to admit because I want that kind of love, have it to give, yet have no one to share it with.
Oh darling, I know.
But each morning I choose to meet Jesus and allow His love to restore my hope, strength, and dignity. THAT is why I walk in joy and peace.
Do I want a husband?
Yes, I absolutely do.
Oh, but not if it costs me even one precious drop of the love Jesus gives. I’m not giving that up. No way.
Drink up, sister. Drink deeply of His love. Nothing else will ever satisfy.
Hello, my name is: Melissa, Loved, Beautiful, Hand-crafted, Adored, Poetess, Daughter of God.