The Mother at the Well

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.
— John 4:10

A good mother, who can find? I mean, who is actually good at all this self-denial, this sacrifice, this exhaustion, this repetition, this patience?

Some mothers have degrees in childhood development or education, grew up with many younger siblings, worked long hours as babysitters, or have dreamed of holding their own babies since not much older than infants themselves — but surely none of these credentials and experiences have ever prepared a single woman for the monumental task of shaping the souls the Lord entrusts to her. In motherhood, we are buried and die there beneath the earth, and the dying is scary, disorienting, and hard. But God is the one doing the digging, and He promises that this is the way to fruit-bearing, that He will grow us, one small green shoot at a time (Jn 12:24).

Well  - Arequipa, Peru

Well - Arequipa, Peru

Motherhood requires all that I have, and I quickly find that what I have really isn’t all that much. The distance between my sufficiency for these things and true sufficiency is laughable. I am not selfless enough, patient enough, consistent enough, holy enough, energetic enough, creative enough, wise enough, or loving enough to be a good mother. No, I am a desperate woman at the well with five husbands who are not my husband, begging Him for a drink, embarrassingly wiping Jesus’ feet with my tears and hair. I love much because I have been forgiven so much. 

I may not be a good mother, but I can be a dependent mother, a praying mother who talks less at my children and more with my God. His divine power is everything I need for life and godliness; He is the good one (2 Pet 1:3Mark 10:18). 

There are times when I manage to cut back the overgrowth far enough so that my kids can drink from Jesus’ living water and feel the sun, so that they can clearly see their Maker and find rest. But perhaps, more often, I erect towers of sin that cast long dark shadows, eclipsing the Lord’s character with my own. I’m afraid my Savior and I still do not look very much alike.

And so God is the one who will have to sort it out and heal their hearts and mine, who will have to give them eyes to see the truth — which is how it is with everyone, everywhere. He will use my weakness to teach them about His grace and forgiveness, and I’ll keep coming to Him with my broken bottle of expensive perfume and long hair. I will keep asking Him with drooping hands He lifts up and on weak knees He strengthens to one day hear my children say, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world” (John 4:42).