Often times, when I go through a season of ‘refinement’ I easily become overwhelmed with the reality of my own sinfulness. Perfectionism has always been close to my heart, including holding myself to some pretty high and unrealistic expectations. I am human. Merely human. And so are you.
During my time in Italy, I have realized more areas in my life that need growth then I would care to admit. Now, for someone who struggles with perfectionism, a season such as this has the propensity to lead them to frustration and despair.
The other day I was reading in the book of John because I longed for a fresh look at my Savior. As my eyes scanned the pages, I was hit with a new understanding of how to respond to the brokenness being revealed in my life.
One day, Jesus was passing through a city called Samaria. Exhausted from His long journey, He sat down beside a well when a Samaritan woman came near to draw water. Jesus asked her to give him something to drink. This woman was taken aback that He spoke to her, because Jews did not associate themselves with Samaritan people due to the fact that they were a kind of “mixed breed”, both Gentile and Jew. Not only did she have different ethnicity than Jesus, but she was also a woman, in whom men did not want to be seen talking to.
The Samaritan woman asked Jesus how a Jew could ask her for water. Jesus responded by saying, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10). This woman could not help but be curious where this living water came from. Jesus told her, that “whoever drinks of the water that [He] will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that [He] will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)
Jesus’ words created a longing in the woman’s heart for this ‘living water’, so she asked Him to give it to her. Jesus responded in a surprising way (as He often did) by telling her to first go and call her husband. She told Jesus that she did not have a husband, and He replied by telling her that she was in fact right, she didn’t have one husband, but five.
Jesus’ response shocked the woman, and she answered by saying she perceived Him to be a prophet. She told Him that she believed an awaited Messiah (promised deliverer) was coming. Jesus gently responded to her, “I who speak to you am he.” (John 4:26). The Samaritan woman’s response at this point in the story opened my eyes to a new perspective. The passage says, “The woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (John 4:28-29).
I picture the scene like this: The woman’s eyes widened as Jesus revealed His identity to her, and shared all He knew about her life. Her heart raced as areas of brokenness, shame, and darkness slowly crept into the light of the only One who could mend them. His face, full of grace, looked at her like no one else had ever looked at her before. No condemnation. No guilt. No shame. Just a quiet urge for her to leave the past behind, and drink living water that will satisfy her soul. Something changed in the woman’s heart that day. She knew the man she spoke to was unlike any other person. Full of joy and a new feeling called grace, she dropped her water jars and ran as fast as she could back to her town to tell everyone about Him.
“Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did.” I don’t know about you, but when I think about ALL that I have ever done, I naturally bend toward shame and condemnation. However, this woman decided that instead of feeling embarrassed that Jesus knew EVERYTHING about her, she would make it a part of her ministry to help others know Him. As areas of sin and brokenness are revealed in my own life, God is showing me the importance of pressing into Jesus, and understanding that He came for this very reason. If I could save myself and be good enough, then I wouldn’t need a Savior. I learned from this beautiful woman that this man named Jesus does know all that I have ever done, and yet still loves me with an everlasting love beyond all comparison. I have no reason to shrink back in shame; no reason to hide when sin is revealed. Nor do I need to punish myself. I am simply called to hold onto Jesus, and know I can approach Him with FULL confidence, because He died for all the ways that I fall short. I can allow the areas of brokenness in my life to become my ministry to others. Jesus is so good. How easily I forget that! He wants to satisfy our souls, and put back together all that is broken. So the next time I become overwhelmed with all the ways I fall short, I want to choose to lean into Him and rejoice as the Samaritan Woman did, knowing that my Savior came for this exact reason. He came to show me all that I have ever done, and tell me in the midst of it, “I love you”. And He wants to use me to tell others about this perfect, unconditional love.
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16