• Jennifer Hastings

Regret to Redemption

Updated: Oct 9, 2019

The dirt in my mouth feels gritty between my teeth. Walking towards the well with my water jug dangling against my leg, my eyes and heart downcast, I press forward. I need to get away from Sychar for a little while and I gladly volunteer to make the water run.

At least on this walk, I don’t have to face their constant stares and whispers. I didn’t set out to live this kind of life and it is taking its toll on me. What they don’t know about me is I want to change! I’m tired of this life. The sweat pours off my forehead as I stop to rest for a minute. If only it were true, I’ve heard the rumors...they say there is this man. They say he is healing people, forgiving people, they say, he is wonderful. They say he doesn’t care what you have done. He has probably never met anyone as far gone as me though. My only experiences with men have not been good. They only want what they can get from you. I’m sure it is just a rumor, a story someone made up like a cruel joke to give people like me hope. Too good to be true...

I pick up my water jug and continue the journey kicking more dust up than necessary as I make my way to Jacob’s well. It feels good to get the dust on me. My outside matching my insides, I feel disgusting and dirty. If only people could see the person I want to be. I’ve made too big a mess of things. I wonder what he looks like? Jesus is his name. As I walk, I can’t shake the feelings of despair and my thoughts keep coming back to a fresh start. Maybe I should just keep walking and leave my village and reputation behind once and for all.

There is a Jewish man leaning on one side of the well and I move to the other not making eye contact since I am but a Samaritan woman.

“Do you care to fetch me some water? He says.

My hand slips on my rope and I almost drop it down into the well. I look up at him with question in my eyes. Are you talking to me?

He smiles and doesn't say a word, but looks at me as if to say, well… will you get me some water?

“You, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman for water.” I make this statement as if to make clear to him I am not deaf and dumb, just completely shocked he is talking to me. I pull the rope up out of the well and walk over with my jar and allow him to take his fill.

“If you knew who was talking to you, you would ask for living water, so you would never thirst again.”

My heart begins to race a little and I wonder if he is crazy. I look deep into his eyes and there is something I’ve never seen before looking back at me. I immediately blush and look away, it is like he knows me... like he knows my every thought.

“Go back and bring your husband.”

“I don’t have a husband,” I say looking down feeling the heat flash across my face.

“You are right, you have had five husbands and the one you are with now is not your husband.” He says as he leans in towards me.

Before I look away, I see compassion in his eyes, not the disgust and loathing I suspected to see. How does he know my shame and sins? “You must be a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped here on this mountain.” I ask looking down in my own embarrassment.

“You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we know and salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth.”

“Yes, I know the Messiah is coming, I’ve heard that all my life.”

“Dear one, I am telling you that I am he and I have come.”

Staring at him I swear there is electricity passing between us. I’ve never felt this feeling before. My body tingles and my heart pounds like a drum. A wave of love and pure peace washes over me taking my breath away. Suddenly, I want to run back and bring everyone here so they too can experience this forgiveness. I’m in awe as I standing staring into his eyes. A slow smile makes its way from my toes all the way to my face. He is smiling back at me.

Other Jewish men are making their way to Jesus now, I take off leaving my water jar behind and head back to Sychar with a renewed purpose. I’m going to bring the people of my village to meet Jesus!


Woe is Me

How did I end up here? Depressed and on my way to see a shrink.

Turn left in 2 miles onto Forest Hill Street.

I look down at the pamphlet for Family Christian Counseling Molly gave me last week and can’t believe I actually have an appointment in fifteen minutes. I start down the rabbit hole of my past one more time as I try to pinpoint the exact moment in time I got off course. I graduated in the top ten percent of my high school class. Still on track. Earned a full ride to Tech and managed to keep my scholarship. Still on track. I see flashes of Jack’s beautiful college day face and yes, we have a winner, here is where my life took a wrong turn. I would have followed his face anywhere and I did. I followed it down twenty years of marriage and a whole heap of heartache.

If only he didn’t have a gambling problem and a wandering eye, then I wouldn’t be in this mess right now. Fancy job with no real assets to show for it. I’m working over forty hours a week to send our Riley to school, while he bets his half of tuition away.

Turn right in 3 miles onto North Thornton Ave.

I’m about to pick up my woe is me party where I left off before Siri interrupted me, when I hear very clearly in my mind, okay, so Jack made some mistakes, what about you? Why are you jumping from one man’s bed to the next? Just what is it you are looking for?

What? Where did that thought come from?

Your destination is on your right.

I pull into a parking spot and sit there for a moment feeling like I’ve been punched in the gut. I don’t know who put that voice in my head but hold on just a minute, you don’t know what he did to me. You don’t know the betrayal I suffered. You don’t know what it is like standing in the Kroger checkout line wondering if you will have enough money to buy your groceries or did my money pay for just one more hand last night?

I feel the urge to continue defending myself, but shake my head as if to clear the dark clouds settling over me. Hearing voices...maybe I really do need a shrink! Climbing the steps to Dr. Brown’s office suddenly the opening monologue I had so carefully rehearsed fades from my mind. I was ready to slander Jack and blame all of my depression on him. I decide to change my approach to complete transparency. I begin practicing in my mind what I will say, to be completely honest, I’m only here for the little white miracle pill you gave Molly last month. She said it would have me back to normal in a few days. Sounds like a better tactic than sharing the Jack saga anyway. I’ll tell her I’m stressed about paying for college. Satisfied with the new approach, I settle into my seat in the waiting room.

The voice is still in my head, what is it you really want?

The voice rattles me again and I’m contemplating getting up and just walking out. No, stay put, you want the pill right? I stand to leave when the door opens and the receptionist says, “Kim, this way, Dr. Brown will see you now.”

The door opens and the room is just what you would expect, looks just like every shrink’s office you see in the movies. I almost laugh as I picture Tony Soprano sitting in the leather chair I’m about to occupy.

“What can I do for you?” Dr. Brown asks leaning in and looks genuinely interested in helping me.

I open my mouth to say, I’ve come for the little white cure-all pill, please, but my throat catches and I begin to cry. I don’t know what is happening to me. Crying in front of a stranger. The shame! Something about this lady’s kind eyes and way she asked the question was much like the voice from earlier in the car, what are you looking for?

“I think, I think, I uh, uh, just need a change. I feel so tired, like I’m carrying all this weight around. I feel so ugly inside. I’m tired of being bitter towards my ex-husband and blaming him for all of my problems.” I manage to choke out between sobs. I wonder if I am having an out-of-body experience. I always remain in complete control and here I am blabbering on like an idiot.

Mrs. Brown asks me if she can pray over me and our session. As she begins praying, my heart feels like someone is beating on it with a drum. I'm nervous. Something big is happening here.

“Kim, I want to share a passage of scripture God brought to my mind while I was praying for you. I think he wants you to hear it.” She takes the Bible out from underneath her notepad and places her notepad on the bottom. She begins thumbing through the New Testament, “I believe it is somewhere over here, hang on, found it. I’m starting from John 4:4."

She begins to read… "Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

Oh, I know this story, I’ve heard this before, it is the story of woman at the well. She continues reading and my pulse quickens.

“When a Samaritan woman came to draw, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that ask you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and heard?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.

“I have no husband,” she replied.

My heart seems to do a back flip when Jesus asked her about her husband. I feel like Jesus is speaking directly to me and I want to know what happens next. Tears are running down my face and my fist are clenched at my sides in anticipation.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”

Dr. Brown pauses a minute to grab a tissue for me and when she does I hear it again. The voice! The voice you have been hearing this morning is me and my Spirit! I who speak to you am he. Dr. Brown pats my knee and continues reading.

Just then then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

Then leaving the water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, and see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

As Dr. Brown continued to read, I felt God's whisper to me, can you leave your bitterness and regret at the well and trade it for freedom? Trade your anger for me. I love you and want to give you living water.

As she finishes reading how many Samaritans came to know Jesus because the woman brought people to meet him, my tears continue to fall as I realize I’ve been searching for love that only Jesus can give me. How unfair for me to have expected Jack to meet my every need. It is Jesus I’ve been searching for and the forgiveness he can give me from my sins. I’ve been so busy looking at everyone else’s sins, I forgot to look at my own.


Do you have a jar of bitterness? Jar of anger? Jar of regret? Jar of pride?

Do you carry it with you everywhere you go? Is it heavy? Is it weighing you down?

Take your jar to the well, take it to the cross and leave it there.

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