Shame. “The painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous et, done by oneself or another.” Shame is painful. Shame started in the garden when temptation slithered it’s slippery body into Adam and Eve’s perfect existence. Adam and Eve said yes to the temptation and the result was immediate shame. Out of shame, they tried to cover their nakedness with fig leaves. They tried to cover their sin by hiding among the trees of the garden. But God came after them. Just like he did every day, God came looking for them. He knew what had happened and He came anyway. There were serious consequences for the choice but God didn’t want Adam and Eve to walk away laden with guilt and embarrassment so he covered them in proper garments to hide their shame. God never intended his creation to live in condemnation
The Samaritan woman knew shame. But after she met Jesus, her shame came undone. Jesus met the Samaritan woman at a well and a life changing conversation took place. It always happens that way, He always finds us smack dab in the middle of our guilt and shame and meets us right where we are. The mid-point in the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman is what I am drawn most to these days. Jesus begins to hint at who he is and the woman’s interest is stirred but then that conversation shifts from focus on who he is to who she is. “Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, I Have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true”. (John 4:16) Before Jesus could take away her guilt and shame, he had to show the woman the true state of her heart. When God uncovers sin in our hearts it is never to shame us. It is to save us.
The most powerful shift in my own personal spiritual walk came when God tenderly started showing me the truth of my heart and I realized that I am truly and deeply broken without Jesus. Left to its own devices, my heart is prone to wander. It is hard and uncomfortable at times to name my own sin but there is freedom in the practice of true repentance. As I learn how desperately I need him, I more willingly cling to his love and let go of the perceived need to protect myself by hiding my sin.
After Jesus shows the Samaritan woman the brokenness of her life, “The woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, come see a man who told me all that I ever did.” If the woman is running back to town and testifying that this man “told me all that I ever did”, she must have accepted the truth Jesus revealed and agreed with Jesus’ judgement of her life. And what was the judgement? Not guilty. Despite all the ways she had fallen short of God’s perfect commandments, she was pronounced not guilty.
The same kind of freedom the Samaritan experienced is the same kind of freedom God wants you and I to experience. If you are walking through life right now stuck in shame, please know that Jesus offers another way. If you will allow him to show you the truth of your heart, accept his sin crushing grace, and move forward in joyful obedience, your shame will be undone, you will be unstuck and invited into freedom just like our Samaritan sister.