I can already tell I’m going to look back on this season of recovery as one of God’s precious gifts. In that respect, needing to be cut open was a kindness. There’s no way I would have elected to take a month’s sabbatical without an unavoidable reason. And, as I mentioned in my last post, this time of rest has afforded space for healing in places long buried but never fully forgotten. I wasn’t likely to carve time out of my normal routine to go digging.
This morning I was praying through some negative emotions I wish didn’t feel so familiar:
crushed beneath expectations and responsibilities.
As I asked God to search out their origins, bind up the wounds, and heal every layer of longing with the sweet balm of energy, joy, and restoration, He brought the words of John 4 to mind.
Through tears I thought, “Surely the Samaritan woman felt these feelings too.”
How much life must drain out of you when you go from man to man looking for love that can only be found in Jesus? Perhaps as much as drains away working 60 to 80 to 100 hours a week for years thinking that’s what you should do “with a happy heart” to prove your devotion to God.
How empty do you have to feel to only venture out when you think no one will see? Perhaps as empty as I felt hearing the words from my doctor when he explained what it meant to be diagnosed with “Multiple Systemic Exhaustion Syndrome.” He said, “In some ways recovery would be easier for you if you’d broken your back. Then you’d be incapable of acting like you can still function.”
How crushing the weight of the scorn of those whose expectations you’ve long since given up meeting? Perhaps as crushing as hearing yet another list of legalistic principles I couldn’t possible live up to. Or even, being praised by those who thought I was doing fine while all the while I was slowly shriveling inside, and not feeling like I could risk telling the truth.
Then, one day, there was Jesus waiting by the well. A man who spoke to her, though to many (most, perhaps?) she represented a “triple threat” – female, Gentile, and covered with the mire of shameful choices. Though the out-workings of her sin are not the same as mine, she’s really not so very different from where I was when Jesus found me.
I love that Jesus asked her first for something she could actually give: a drink of water. So often I’ve cringed away from Him, sure that He will ask for what I’m incapable of giving. I’m sure the enemy cackled in delight when I fell for that lie, over and over and over. To one who already feels beaten, asking for what she didn’t have would have only piled on another layer of shame.
But, Jesus is kind. In the midst of my exhaustion, could it be He simply asks for what is still in my hand? Nothing fancy. Just a sip. Like the father whose gifts to His children fund the surprises waiting for him on Christmas morning, He was first to put it there for me anyway.
And yet, just as He did with her, when I respond and give back what He’s put in my hand, He takes it and draws me in closer. He reminds me that what He offers is so far beyond what I can imagine.
He doesn’t just quench the thirsty tongue, He saturates the empty heart.
And it’s in embracing the inner healing – the realization that what matters for the world is ultimately what comes from Him not from her – that energizes her to go tell others of the Life-giver she’s just encountered at the well. I suppose after that day she continued to scratch out an existence in that dusty little town. And yet, everything that mattered had changed.
And so it has for me too. Jesus and I first met “at the well”, so to speak, when I was just a little girl. I’m so grateful He brings me back here from time to time to remind me of these truths. His grace still amazes me.
So today I’m letting go of “empty” and choosing “filling up with living waters of love, reassurance, and joy.”
I’m saying goodbye to “drained” and embracing “vibrant.”
And, I’m rejecting “crushed” and accepting “restored, reconciled, and valued.”
What about you … Is your soul satisfied with Him today? May I invite you to listen to this song and linger with me for a few minutes with the Well-Spring of Grace?