I am the woman at the well.
I have writer’s block today.
It’s not something I usually experience. Ever since I was a little girl, I have been a writer. Words flow out of me constantly, whether in this column, on my blog, on social media, or in the form of stories (or the sappy love poems I subjected my husband to the entire time we dated).
When I started blogging at seventeen, I wrote a post every single day except for Sunday. I was chock-full of observations about life, the world, and womanhood.
And that hasn’t changed—make no mistake—but the reality that I’m publicizing my thoughts and words is not lost on me. Whether a coworker comments on my Facebook post, a woman from church thanks me for my words, or a family member texts me about an article that I write, I’m reminded that my words are being heard.
This truth has caused me to pause and take stock this week—what do I want readers to hear?
Tales of Living Water
One of my favorite scenes in the Bible is Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well.
He goes out of his way to talk to a woman whom Jewish society deemed unfit for conversation. Not only was she part of the wrong people group, the worst of the human race (John 8:48), but she was also a sinner, an adulteress. In a stunning display of compassion, the savior draws near to this outcast and strikes up a conversation by asking her to draw him water from the well.
As the exchange continues, Jesus tells the woman of a well of water springing up to offer eternal life. Instantly, she recognizes that Jesus is different from other men she’s talked to—particularly, perhaps, the five men Jesus mentions later (John 4:18). “I see that you are a prophet,” she tells him.
But Jesus reveals even more to this woman. When she describes the Messiah, he tells her quite plainly, “I, the one speaking to you, am he.” Soon after, his disciples arrive, no doubt shocked that their teacher has abandoned the Pence rule during his interaction with an adulteress (sorry, couldn’t resist). And this woman returns to her hometown and proclaims the name of Jesus so that many believe in him (4:39).
I am the woman.
I am the woman at the well.
I know, I know. We aren’t supposed to slide ourselves into biblical narratives. The story of scripture isn’t about connecting the dots until I can draw the perfect little picture of myself.
But I relate to that woman so much. It’s odd, because I’m not a girl from the wrong side of the tracks (although, not long ago, I would’ve been considered the wrong color by many respectable believers). I do not have a striped past. I have not been misused by the men in my life, nor have I bound myself to more than one of them. I have a pretty good reputation. Overall, I think I’m the type of woman you’d want fetching you water.
And yet, I relate to her probing questions about that living water, to her immediate hunger for knowing its source. I, too, say, “Sir, give me this water.”
Give me life.
Give me life where my culture has failed to do so, where my church has adopted shades of the world. Give me life where my shame has overwhelmed the matchless grace that has come into the world to set sinners free. Give me life, because I am so parched, and the transient nature of this well water is just not cutting it.
Give me life.
And he did. In fact, he is. Jesus has laid down his life to give me life. He has laid down his life so that I might walk in the beauty of my calling as a woman who belongs to him.
A woman. Purposefully made that way, for his glory. But a woman, no less an instrument of his grace as such. A woman, different from the men around me but far more than a tool suited merely for their pleasure or validation. I am a woman, capable of motherhood, flourishing in wifehood, but defined by neither role. I am a woman defined by the nail-scarred hands of the Messiah.
Because Christ has gone out of his way to draw me near, I am choosing his life-giving and eternal standard as my identity. Not the culture’s understanding of who I’m supposed to be and act, whether it rises from the world or the ranks of evangelicalism.
I am a woman who has enough water in him, one eternally grateful that he’s chosen me, that he’s changing me.
Woman at the Well
The Samaritan was not the ideal woman, but Jesus was the savior she needed.
He was not waiting for her to fit the mold of Proverbs 31 or Titus 2. All she brought to the table was her own brokenness.
And, y’all, that’s all I’m bringing to the table too.
As I work toward wholeness—toward becoming the woman Christ is calling me to be—I want him to define the work of my hands. Not cultural stereotypes. Not shame. His word. His love. His living water.
He sought me at the well and elevated my work as service to him. He sought me at the well and revealed to me that while my work is temporary, his life is eternal.
And I can’t stop talking about it. I can’t stop writing about it. And no writer’s block can keep me from singing his praises.