Hello sweet friends.
One of the goals I have made for myself this year was to be more vulnerable. Not just in who I am but in my faith. For me, it has always been scary for me to speak the truth about what my heart feels for Jesus, not on a surface level, but in the deep secret places. While I believe some of this should be between me and the Lord, I do feel that he has called me to speak up, speak out, and at least just speak his truth. I have never considered myself blessed with eloquence when it comes to actually speaking, especially about my faith, but I have felt the desire to write for awhile.
The story of the Woman at the Well has always tugged at my heart. It felt so personal to me, even though we don’t know her name or really her back story. But still, her story always rang in my heart. About 3 years ago, during a quiet moment with the Lord, I felt compelled to “write” her story. I didn’t know why or what would ever become of it, but I wrote. And there is sat in a journal until about a couple of months ago. When I was asking the Lord, “what next?”, he said “her story isn’t over yet, and neither is yours”. Write.
The idea for a devotional came to me when I opened the journal back up. I knew there was so much I could unpack and share with my fellow sisters. And so I began to write, pray, explore, study, and write some more. It is no where near finished and I hope someday it will be. I feel as if I am writing to help also heal some parts of me that are still broken. I don’t want to rush it, but I feel that I can at least share a glimpse of her story and where I hope the Lord leads me and some of you. It will give me a chance to start to speak His truth and also keep me accountable in completing her story. It would do me a huge honor if you would read the beginning. I am not looking for accolades but for the honest reaction of your heart.
The study will be written in day segments. With the devotional first, questions second, followed by a prayer time, and fun extra credit. Tomorrow, I will be posting Day Two… or Part Two.
Love you all:
Begin with reading John 4:1-6
While reading the fictional passage below, underline anything that stands out, anything you have felt or can identify with. Don’t be afraid to write in the margins! This is your study!
It was getting late. She could feel the temperature rising from the sun as it baked the backside of the dwelling. Even with the coolness of the wall against her skin, the heat was oppressive.
She leaned her head back against the clay wall and closed her eyes. She sat perfectly still, willing every inch of her to complete quiet. Even her breath came out in a silent movement. If only she could sink into this wall, to disappear. To just not be. She wished to sit like this for hours; days even if her circumstances allowed it. Where seconds melted into minutes and flowed into hours.
Her heartbeat felt like a heavy stone dropping inside her chest and seemed to echo like a dull thud throughout the small room. With each beat, a small ache would ripple throughout her body. The constant ache. The desperate void in the pit of her stomach; it reminded her no matter how hard she wished to disappear, the pain would yank her back. Back into existence. Back into this room, in this dwelling, in this heart….
And just as suddenly as she melted into her stillness, she was again aware of her body and the time that had slipped by her. She needed to leave, to get up and brave the heat and escape the sanctuary of the dwelling. She wished for a few more minutes of peace, of that perfect stillness of non-existence.
She moved her fingers first, gently wiggling them against her robe, feeling the rough cloth between her fingers. Grasping for anything to anchor her against the constant gnawing of the dull pain inside her chest. Some days she felt strong enough to ignore the ache, but today it felt like the pain alone pinned her to the wall. Afraid if would overcome her if she stood.
An overwhelming wave of emotion welled up and before she could stop it, a sob escaped her lips. Surprised by the noise, she opened her eyes and quickly wiped the salty tears off her face. Not today, please not today. She let her fingers linger on her face as she felt for the path that surely her tears had carved into her skin. There had been so many, her face must be scared with the memory of each one. Love and loss, disease, war, shame, disgrace. Each tear had held the sentiments of her young life, once that seemed so promising but had turned into just a life of survival.
They would be gone by now. The village women in good standing would have come to the well earlier in the morning. With their babies in tow, their water jugs, and quick tongues. They would have stayed to greet each other, fill their jugs, and gossip about the week, harvest, each other’s children and most likely… her. It was getting later by the minute and the heat of the day would have scattered them back to the coolness of their dwellings. She would rather face the cruel heat than their cruel stares.
The heat made it’s presence known silently. While intrusive and unapologetic, it didn’t send assaults that were unknown. It always kept it’s harshness consistent. She could prepare against it’s heavy burden and escape it after her task was done, but a besiege on her heart, she just couldn’t recover from.
It was time. She knew because of the last of the wandering voices had subsided and she knew her path would be clear. The village women were now inside and the village would be at rest, retreating till the sun had lost some of it’s anger. She wiggled her toes to make sure her body was aligned with her intentions and she slowly began to stand. She arched her back and stretched her arms above her head. With her head tipped back, she glanced heavenward.
“Please,” she whispered “Please.”
Why she felt compelled to utter a single prayer, she didn’t know. The God of her people hadn’t made himself known. Not when husbands had died, children wouldn’t come, tongues lashed, reputations ruined… why would he show himself now. After all, she was too broken to claim the ear of the Almighty.
But just maybe. Maybe hope does grow. Maybe.
After standing still again for several minutes, she shook herself back in the present. She couldn’t wait any longer. She placed her sandals on her feet, adjusted her robe and reached for the water jug.
Take a breath sweet friend. Did anything in the passage above really stick out to you?
Let’s take a minute and unpack that. Write down where your heart went while you were reading this. How can you identify with the woman? And if you don’t, do you know someone in your life who does?
Words like ache and pain aren’t necessarily pretty. They come with a sting that can feel tangible for our hearts. What pain has pierced you and left you feeling hopeless? The loss of a loved one, a choice or decision you made, the words of others, etc…
Ok, I feel like we can take a break till tomorrow. Talking about pain is never easy and I am so thankful that you are willing to open up and bring it to the surface. I promise we are going to do something with that pain.
Lord, thank you for creating us to be women. Women who feel, who wear our hearts on our sleeves or who hold our hearts a little closer. Thank you for loving us and letting us come however we are. Lord, we pray as we study the Woman at the Well our eyes would be open to you and how much you love us. That there is nothing in this world that can divide us from you. Amen and Amen.
Extra Credit: Listen to Come However You Are By City Harbor, eat some cookie dough, and take a bath.