“You are the woman at the well.”
The startling inspiration took hold of me during my morning meditation.
Not that I was used to such lofty thoughts or profound insights. Hardly. In my spiritual life, I was more often than not engulfed in some kind of aridity, darkness, or spiritual oppression. Resigned to live in faith’s darkness, I seldom experienced a respite; which is why I was so taken aback by this sudden insight.
With no little amazement, I began to ponder and ask myself, how in the world could I resemble that colorful and tenacious character who encountered our dear Lord that day at Jacob’s well?
My reverie had hardly begun when I was brought back to reality, the inspiration continuing and intruding further upon my fanciful thoughts.
“You are the woman at the well. But you are at the wrong well.”
“Wait, what?” I tried to process the stark disclosure. “I’m where? At the wrong well?” With no little chagrin I thought with a smile, “This is just great! I finally have a beautiful inspiration during meditation and it turns out to be like this!”
My self-reflection reflexes kicked into gear. “OK, so I’m at the wrong well. The wrong well. And just what well would that be?” I reasoned “I’m in constant aridity; I certainly don’t seem to be at any well.” I would not have to wonder long in my consternation. The brutal truth continued.
“You are at the wrong well. You are not at the wellspring of salvation which is my Heart. No. You are at the empty cisterns of people’s opinion of you. It will never satisfy you.”
In amazement I had to admit that this assessment was truly on the mark. I had so often measured my value by how I was regarded by people or how wanted or unwanted I felt by them.
I lived in the harsh judgements that people had leveled on me, and their past criticism burned in my memory and paralyzed me with a sense of rejection.
“You are forever waiting at the doors of people’s hearts for a few scraps of kindness.”
It was a perfect diagnosis. Bullied for years as a child in school, I had grown accustomed to fearing people’s mockery, slander, gossip and tattling. Sticks and stones may not have broken my bones but names could always hurt me. It became my experience that most people were conditional in their affections, inconstant and disloyal. I had been waiting for a long time at a well that never seemed to grant any of the love and acceptance I had longed for. Not that any would have suspected my inner torment. My external demeanor seldom betrayed the sense of emptiness and disappointment in life that I experienced.
I was most certainly and undeniably at the wrong well.
“Where do I go from here?” I thought. I had been coping this way all my life, like some emotional beggar. I was lost and more broken than I had suspected. Without comfort from God or people, I experienced a sense of loss that was truly horrific. I looked bleakly to the Lord to rescue me from myself. He mercifully responded in kind.
“Come to the wellspring of your Savior, the fountain of love and mercy flowing from my open Heart.”
I was dying of thirst for love and acceptance. I needed these healing waters to wear away my heart’s stony armor and give me a natural heart. I was desperate for God’s love and tenderness. It was time to move on to where I could receive it.
I looked back for the briefest of seconds at that empty cistern I was leaving behind. I instinctively knew that God would always keep that reservoir of human love closed to me, until I found my self-worth and value only in Him. Anything less would become idolatrous to me.
The grace of that day began to transform my outlook and my life.
I realized that mine was a daily call and responsibility to remain in the right place — at the right well. Only at that well would I find the peace of heart and security for which I had always been longing.
Only at the wellsprings of the Savior would I find a well-ordered sense of reality and perspective, knowing my value and dignity, and how much I was loved by God.
I was vigilant not to depart from this source of life. I began to watch my thinking patterns, since it was precisely in my thoughts that I moved from drinking deeply in dependence and trust at the wellsprings of the Savior to again running hell-bent to hold an empty water bottle beneath the tap of human approval and human respect.
Day by day, my thirst was being quenched, and continues to be so, revealing to me who I truly am, a woman at a different well, infinitely loved, who finds her delight and strength in the Lord and in His love.
I am the recipient of that wondrous promise a thirsty Lord once gave at midday to another woman at another well, the Samaritan woman to whom Christ pledged: “Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn 4:14). With all my soul’s longing for His living waters, I reply together with her, “Give me this water” (Jn. 4:15).
From the depths of my misery, my aridity, my brokenness, I hear, over the roar of mighty waters of that fountain of salvation, the Lord’s own decisive and ardent response to my cry: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come. Let the one who thirsts come forward, and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water” (Rev. 22:17).
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!’”(Rev.22:20).