Share Your Story

Share Your Story

“It’s literally been the worst year of my life. BUT, God is making everything beautiful again. It’s been painful, but I am finally seeing the light. I hope one day I’ll be strong enough to share my story… it’s ugly.” 

I didn’t write these words, although I felt them deep within my spirit. A sweet, beautiful friend of mine sent these words to me in a text message early one morning. And as I read them, I was filled with mixed emotions. On one side stood my own pain, reminding me of the hard places in life I would rather forget. Those “ugly” parts of my own story, and the insecurities that still creep in asking me “Am I really strong enough to share?” 

But on the other side, stood hope. Hope rooted in Truth. Because I know what Jesus can do with broken stories and contrite hearts. I’ve seen His ability to redeem our broken places. His authority to re-write our messy stories. And His kindness to cover our shame and bring purpose from our pain. 

In John 4:1-45, we read of a conversation between Jesus and a woman struggling with her own broken story. We don’t know her name. We actually know very little about her life. But what we do know is that she came to her town’s well to draw water, and to be alone. Theologians differ on their opinions about her life. Some believe she was a woman without any values or dignity, fully embracing this life of sin she had chosen. Others believe her current lifestyle choices were something she bought into over time, because she believed the lie that she was unworthy to hope for anything more. But one thing everyone can agree on is this: she deeply felt the shame of her story. Shame identified her. And it was so consuming, she would choose to collect her water in the blistering heat of the midday sun rather than face the stares and whispers of the other women in her town. It was easier. And safer. And less painful. Because here, alone, she didn’t have to be reminded “You don’t belong.” 

Jewish men didn’t engage with Samaritans in that day. Much less Samaritan women. Much less THIS Samaritan woman. Jesus’ decision to engage with her even caused his closest followers to “marvel” at the sight (vs. 27). But Jesus didn’t just speak with this unnamed woman. He took a path most Jews would not travel, and then in His weariness and exhaustion, He waited. He didn’t just come to her; He came for her. And He chose this woman, this broken, divorced, Samaritan woman, to be the very first person He would reveal Himself to as “Messiah.” Her story wasn’t too messy for Jesus. No amount of shame she wore disqualified her from carrying forth the message He would reveal to her. She needed only to come face to face with the Messiah.

And as she did, her story was re-written by the “great Author and Finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). This broken woman came to the well that day at a time where she knew she could be alone. She came for water to temporarily satisfy her needs and quench her thirst. But she left that place with no water in hand, running to the very people she was running from before meeting Jesus. Living Water waited for her that day at Jacob’s well. And this Water would cleanse her of shame, heal her wounds, and bring life to her hurting soul. 

As she ran back to her town, she spoke boldly of the One she had just met; this One who, with great kindness and compassion, offered her an invitation to be welcomed in. Jesus didn’t command her to go and tell her story. From the words recorded in Scripture, we never read that He asked her to. 

But when a hurting soul comes into the presence of healing Love, it seems impossible to hide any longer. 

Joy and gratitude replace shame and insecurity. And you begin to realize, others need what you have found. The Samaritan Woman didn’t have to go and prove herself to others to find purpose in her pain. She didn’t have to go clean herself up in order to gain the opportunity to speak of Jesus. She simply had to be in the presence of Jesus, and then invite others to come as well. And as she did,  “many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony” (vs. 39).

So to my friend who sent me that early morning text, and to every woman who feels her story is too ugly, too broken, and too shameful to be used, let me encourage you with this today: You are strong enough to share your story. Because your strength lies not in your ability to speak, but in Jesus’ ability to redeem. The good places of your story remind us that God is full of grace and loving kindness. And the broken places gently remind us of His ability to rescue and restore. But all of your story, the good and the bad, speak of Jesus when it’s brought before Him and placed within His hands. His redemption in your life and in your story was never meant to end with just you. Others are waiting in your town, in your city, in your family… and they need what you have found. Just come to the well today. He’s waiting to meet with you. And as He does, I truly believe you’ll run to the places that once felt so scary and say, “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what He has done for my soul.” Psalm 66:16 

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