Painting: Woman at the Well | Hyatt Moore
He saw her. He looked past the façade, beyond the lie that she wished were real, the image that she tried to project and saw down through to the gritty truth of her life. She wasn’t perfect, her path anything but ideal, her world eschew. You don’t come to the well alone and in the middle of the day if you are living the dream. No, she was persecuted by pain, her soul punched through by the gossip of women confronted with the smallness of their own lives. She came that day, as every day before, to draw water from the well in the middle of the day hoping, praying, desperate to avoid their clucking tongues and dark stares. She had come to draw just enough water for the work of the day, just enough to see her through and instead she had stumbled into the light of eternity.
Jesus was there with her, just as he is with you and me, at the point of our need; reminding us what is true and calling us to throw off the lie, the shroud of shame that keeps us from stepping into all that could be. She tries to confuse him, wants to talk of temples and mountains, wants to distract him from the issue, but he speaks to her in Spirit and truth. He tells her who she is and what she could possess and she is amazed by grace. This is how the harlot became the herald of grace, this is how the Samaritan woman, used and rejected, tainted past and tarnished reputation became the evangelist of Sychar.
I think about this woman and the reality of her empty well often but most recently while I am in the company of a few precious sisters with whom I am studying Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, which could just as easily have been titled the Balm of Gilead, as far as we are concerned. Week by week we have warmed to one another, we have found courage and inspiration in our stories and we have cast off the cloak of perceived perfection and all the lovely lies until we are left at once bare, broken and thankful.
We have re-assigned all the energy that goes into building the image, to perpetuating the charade; we talk about who we are in secret and in so doing find what it is to be fierce in our new found freedom. We have grown weary of measuring our value by the numbers on the scale, we no longer need to compile photo albums filled with images of a family without scars, we don’t want to pretend our losses don’t hurt or that we haven’t been worn raw by the winds of life in this world. We have found out that sharing these dark places, holding them up to the light has been for us like living water poured out for our thirst quenched souls. What we have come to know as women, Samaritan and suburban is that it is not the secrets that keep us safe, Jesus was right when he said, it is the truth that will set you free.
The scripture tells us that many in the Samaritan village believed in Jesus because the woman shared her truth. Thanking God today for all the women who have blessed my life because they have been willing to minister from their own broken road (John 4).
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