When I first entered into motherhood, I was determined to not succumb to any of the more well-known stereotypes. I refused to be a "scary mommy," a "mama bear," and even the typical "hot mess." I went into motherhood bright-eyed and naive, ready to smother my children with kisses and our daily endeavors with an "WE CAN DO ALL THINGS" optimism. And for the first year or so, I actually felt like I was thriving. Trophy Wife?! What about Trophy Mom? My son was sleeping at night. I was making homemade pureed food. I was working part-time and was successfully organized. I got dressed everyday and did my hair and put eyeliner on. I was kicking butt.
Then, my son turned two. We had another baby. I quit my career. And suddenly, I didn't feel like I was doing such a good job anymore. In fact, the word "failure" began to root itself in my subconscious; fighting to take any optimism I had left and destroy it. Suddenly, being a hot mess was my reality and very quickly became my identity.
We do this with a lot of labels, don't we? We call ourselves a lot of different things; like victim, loser, crazy, not good enough, too emotional, worthless, unimportant, unseen, and even still; sinner. And, while we don't want to be known by these names; we seem to accept them more readily than we ought.
As my friend Brandi Lea shares often when she speaks - we all have stacks of evidence that validate these labels, these ideas that we have about ourselves. They just don't come out of nowhere. There's a reason for why we think these things to be true. Most of the time, anyways. However, there comes a point where we all have to eventually make a choice. We either spend all our time sorting through this evidence - searching for validation and attempting to understand the why OR we choose to walk away from it.
We have to learn that there's a big difference between recognizing our circumstances and the labels that come from them, and LIVING IN THEM.
Consider the woman at the well- a New Testament hot mess if I ever saw one. Her circumstances and her actions had come to define her. So much so, that she lived life in the margins; drawing water from the well when no others would be near. And yet, Jesus decided to meet her there; in the margins and in the wreckage of her heart. She was so stunned by His presence and His request for water that she asked Him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?" I imagine that what she could have been thinking was, "How can this man ask ME - not just a samaritan woman guilty of sexual immorality but a woman who is unclean, worthless, passed over time and time again AND a hot mess - for a drink of water?!" Remember, the women at the well was fully aware of who she was. She wasn't in denial of her circumstances, she had just allowed them to become her life sentence.
But, Jesus sat down anyways. He asked for a drink anyways. And, He does that with us too.
He sees us in the wreckage - the spilled milk and dirty laundry. He sees us with our messy buns, worn-out leggings, and no make-up faces. He sees us - tired, overwhelmed, and unsure. Whether in the thick of motherhood or in the chaos of chasing after dreams, or in the cubicle of our 9 to 5 job - He sees our messes and He enters in. Sometimes, the wreckage has little to do with what is going on around us and a whole lot more to do with our hearts. Maybe we're full of doubt, insecurities, or jealousy. Maybe our greed has consumed us, or bitterness and jealousy has darkened our perspectives. Maybe we are addicted, depressed, or just plain angry. But one thing is for sure, we know that we're in desperate need of rescuing.
He's not in the business of denying the pain that we're in, He's just out to help us find a better way. Jesus doesn't just sit down with us and listen to us complain about the difficulties of our lives. He leads us into transformation. He not only gives us a way out, but He gives us a new name.
The thing we seem to miss in the recounting of the woman at the well is that Jesus gets STRAIGHT to the point. He's not messing around. He says to the woman, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." I don't know about you, but Jesus's words here tell me that if we really knew the gift of God, we'd be diving head first into the living water of our salvation rather than living eagerly in our mess and our sin.
What I find interesting is that Jesus then asks the woman to fetch her husband. That's when she confesses that she doesn't have one. Jesus knew. They both knew of her past - of the five husbands she had had. And, they both knew of her present - the man who she was not in holy matrimony with, but sleeping with nonetheless. Did Jesus ask her that to make her feel ashamed? I don't think so. I think Jesus wanted to point to her sin to remind her of her desperation.
Granted, she didn't want to talk about it. And, just when she started to get uncomfortable she changed the subject. She's like most of us, I think. No one wants to be called out. No one wants to be told that they've normalized their sin. No one wants someone to come up to them and say, "Actually, there's a better way." This is how we get out of our mess, though. It's not enough for us to see it through our own eyes - we can easily just rationalize and excuse and deny. I've found that what really brings about life change is when someone else can see it too; when we filter our sin through God's eyes.
What's really cool about this interaction between Jesus and the woman at the well is that he turns the conversation on it's head. Instead of focusing too long on who the woman was, He tells her WHO HE IS. After the woman declared that they would know all the answers when the Messiah came, Jesus interjects with, "“I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
He's the gift. He's the rescuer. He transforms us.
Jesus shows us that while we might be living in sin, or simply surviving, or just trying to get through another bad day - He'll always step in. We're never too outside the margins for Him. But, He won't leave us there. He'll use those messes we've made and the ones others made for us, for His glory.; to point us right back to Him. Nothing goes untouched, nothing goes unredeemed. Nothing goes unseen. And then? He'll declare His goodness in our lives- past, present, and future. We will experience the the fullness of Christ rather than the emptiness of our day.
The woman at the well is proof, like so many others- that Jesus cleans up this hot mess.
IN THE WORD
Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” || John 4:1-26