Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”
(John 4:39 NIV)
Friend to Friend
Everyone loves a good story. But not everyone likes their own story. I wouldn’t have written my childhood story the way it now appears on the page. Instead, I would have had a daddy who loved me, a momma who cherished me, and a big brother who was my best friend. We would have spent holidays eating turkey, weekends playing board games, and quiet moments before bed saying goodnight prayers. But that’s not the story I got.
I would have had a passel of children, a calendar overbooked with afterschool activities, and walls full of picture-framed little ones all grown up. But that’s not the story I got.
I would have had best friends who stayed friends for life, and a happy-go-lucky personality that never struggled with discouragement. But that’s not the story I got.
I think we’ve all looked at our lives and wanted to rip a few pages from the narrative. But it’s difficult to understand a story if there are missing chapters. Each chapter helps explain why characters are the way they are—why you and I are the way we are. We can’t tear out a page or skip a chapter and still make sense of our story. But we can learn to embrace the story we got, and to trust God to keep writing our story into his.
The Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well didn’t like her story at all. Rather than go to gather water in the cool of the morning or evening, she went in the heat of the day to avoid all the other women who met there. She was embarrassed, ashamed, and most likely felt thrown away like trash by husbands numbers 1-4. Hers was not a good story.
But Jesus came to change all that. It started with a question, “Will you give me a drink?” (John 4: 7) And it ended with an astounding revelation that Jesus had not spoken to another soul, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he [the Messiah],” (John 4:26). She dropped her water pot on the ground and ran into town to tell everyone about a new chapter in her story.
When we drop our water pots filled with anger, shame, condemnation, regret, and bitterness, the Living Water cuts a trail in the dust and sends us on a new course for life.
What’s the story you got? Whatever it is, I’m guessing there are pages you wish you could rip out of the narrative. I’ve never met a soul who didn’t. But what I want to tell you is that the whole of it matters. Every crossed-out word. Every worn-thin erasure. Every ripped-out page. I believe that with my whole heart. You can have a better story, even with the marred pages intact. You can change the ending of your story, even if it feels like you’re trapped in a chapter that has come to a dead stop. There is a way to transform the worst parts of your story into a work of art. Your biggest mistakes have the potential to become God’s greatest miracles.
We can wrest redemption from the jaws of brokenness and then allow God to use it for good. That’s what God did with the Samaritan woman at the well. She used her story for good by telling those she had previously avoided about the Messiah who stopped just for her. And because of the change they saw in her—the mere fact that she was running all over town rather than hiding from town—“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did” (John 4:39 NIV).
It may be hard to believe that it’s possible for God to use your pain for purpose if you’re still living through a bad story, but don’t give up hope. I have experienced it and witnessed it in the lives of others so many times—how God takes the hard things and uses them to showcase his mercy, grace, forgiveness, to create a new beginning. Yes, our worst chapters can become God’s best miracles. Our pain can become a portal of God’s grace. Our ravaged pages can become God’s redemptive masterpiece.
Heavenly Father, I trust that Your pen never slips when it comes to writing my story. Help me to give You the messy pages and the broken stages and not to cling to them with an unrelenting hand. I trust You to make beauty from ashes in my life. Give me the courage to tell others about what You have done in my life.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
What are some pages that you would like to rip out of your story?
How have you seen God use some of your worst chapters for the good of others or yourself?
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More from the Girlfriends
Many of us feel broken. Our mistakes, the pain others have caused us, and circumstances outside our control taunt us every day, though we long to turn a new page. My new book, When You Don’t Like Your Story, challenges us to ask: What if God doesn’t want us to rip out our difficult stories but repurpose them for good?
What has been done to you and what has been done through you does not disqualify you from God’s best for your life. It qualifies you for an even greater purpose than you would have ever known without it. In fact, the worst parts of your story might just be what God uses the most. So sink deep into God’s life-changing truths. The next chapter is just beginning. Includes an in-depth Bible study for individuals and groups.
© 2021 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.