I used to walk around with my head down all the time.
It wasn’t something I was very conscious about. At least not until the pastor at my new church said 5 words to me:
“Hold your head up Sis.”
Those 5 words spoke to me in my fog and woke me up to my reality — I had been walking around in a cloud of shame.
Poor choices over the years landed me in a situation that I almost didn’t make it out of. It was hard and ugly. My children suffered greatly, I lost all my friends and I almost lost my sanity.
All because of a decision I made.
I wanted to fade into the background. I sat in the back of rooms in a corner. I didn’t speak. And I did my best to avoid eye contact with anyone.
I didn’t want to be noticed. I just wanted to be left alone.
I was ashamed of my past and I had convinced myself that if anyone got close enough, they would see the truth and want nothing to do with me.
So I did my best to hide in plain sight.
Who Was the Woman at the Well?
John chapter 4 tells the story of the Samaritan Woman at the Well. A woman known for her poor choices and past mistakes. She, too, did her best to avoid people. She went as far as collecting water in the middle of the day when no one else was around.
That day she came face to face with Jesus and her life was never the same. Confronted with the truth of her past (and present), she found redemption and healing in The Messiah. And this Woman at the Well even went back home and evangelized the entire town.
I can relate to this story on so many levels. I see myself in the Samaritan Woman in the Bible. But I also see so much hope in her encounter between Jesus and the Woman at the Well because it allows me to have hope for myself.
Guess what! This post is part of a series on Great Women of the Bible.
Be sure to check out all of the other posts in this series here: 15 Great Women of the Bible Every Christian Woman Should Study.
3 Lessons We Can Learn from the Woman at the Well
1. You Aren’t Really Hiding in Plain Sight
When I was walking around with my eyes on the ground I thought that I was hiding. I was so wrong.
People saw me and the hurt I was dealing with. Mostly they wanted to help but they had no idea how to approach me.
In the Samaritan Woman’s story, she doesn’t do a good job of hiding either. Jesus was there at the well waiting for her when she arrived. He didn’t care that she was not a Jew or a woman. He didn’t even care about her past.
He wanted to be there to talk to her, care for her and save her so He sat in the heat of the day and waited.
If you are struggling with shame it’s so easy to think that no one really cares or that people are out to hurt you. Be careful not to fall into that trap. There are people around you waiting for an opportunity to love on you.
If you don’t look up, if you never stop hiding you may miss them. And it’s hard to pray your way through hard times alone. Fellowship is a gift from God, don’t run from it.
You may also like: How to Find Freedom From Past Sin and Shame
2. Your Past Isn’t Too Much for God
It can be tempting to think that our mistakes are so bad that God can’t see past them. That’s simply not true.
I spent many years running away from God because I thought I was damaged goods. My mistakes were so big in my mind that there was no way that I could ever be close to God again. I convinced myself I was a lost cause and continued to make poor choices.
My mistake was making my past bigger than God.
God can handle anything that you may be ashamed of because He already knows!
When the Samaritan Woman at the Well admitted to her past husbands, Jesus didn’t blink an eye. He already knew all about the Samaritan Woman’s story. It was old news to Him. Your choices are old news too. So don’t try to hide it from Him.
Taking the courageous step to be open and honest with God about our past is key to starting to heal. Things that are covered up can never heal.
Have an honest conversation with God. Take out your prayer journal and pour out all your pain.
3. God Still Wants to Use You
One thing that’s really hard about dealing with shame is the effect it has on your identity. It makes you feel like you are wrong, dirty and useless.
In my lowest moments, I questioned my purpose. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea that I could do anything for God after all the mistakes I’d made.
The truth was the complete opposite of what I was thinking. God has allowed my past to encourage so many women over the years.
I’ve been able to share lessons I learned from my mistakes so other ladies know they aren’t alone and that there’s hope.
No matter what you’ve done, God wants to do the same with your life.
Your testimony of how God saved you from a sinful past or a life of mistakes is a powerful thing. Transformation is the heart of the Gospel message.
When we can say “look how God changed me” people will start to pay attention. When we have their attention we can point them to the Savior.
Don’t believe me? Just look at the end of the Woman at the Well’s story. There are so many great lessons to be learned from the Woman at the Well.
The Woman at the Well started off as a social outcast, then goes back to her town and tells them about Jesus. Her legacy is not her past mistakes, it’s 4 words: Come Meet a Man!
Have you struggled with shame in your life like the Woman at the Well? How were you able to overcome your shame and open up an honest conversation with God?
LaToya Edwards is a Christian life coach and author. She helps Christian women strengthen their faith and deepen their relationship with God so they can walk victoriously through trials, knowing God is with them, every step of the way.