When You’re the Woman at the Well (+ Video)

The truth can be a scary thing.

Child: Mom – Truth or Dare?

Mom: {Eating my turkey burger} Umm . . . truth?

Child: Do you love Daddy?

Mom: Yes.  {That was easy-peasy.}

Mom: {Afterthought} Oh…is that how this game works – I have to tell a truth or take a dare?

Child: Yeap!

The whole premise behind the Truth or Dare game is that one way or another – you will most likely end up doing something terribly terrifying or admitting to something terribly personal – which is still terrifying!

Who wants to play a game like that?

When you’re just a kid and you haven’t lived much of life yet (like my eight year old daughter who “truth or dared” me), you don’t mind playing those games – the kind of games where you have to bare-it-all and expose your soul, because there’s probably not much that you’ve done wrong up until that point.  You’re young and relatively innocent.  Life is pretty good!  Truth and dares don’t matter much.

But when we’re adults – things begin to change, and Truth or Dare gets kind of scary.  We’ve lived a good chunk of life by now, and chances are that we have possibly made some whopping blunders – MEGA BLUNDERS!  Things that we would prefer to forget because they are terribly painful; even unconscionable.  No, we never want to talk about it again.  Truth or Dare?  No way!

As our kids get older, we’ll have a good number of Truth and Dare moments.

They’ll come in all kinds of shapes and sizes; packaged in moments that you’d never expect and will occur virtually a life time after such unmentionable “truths” were committed.  They are those questions you thought they’d never ask, or at least the ones you always hoped they wouldn’t.

I had one just recently . . .

I was at home, leisurely passing the time and having a lighthearted, casual conversation with my daughter, when we happened to discuss a marriage that had recently taken place.  For some reason, it came up that prior to the wedding the woman had not been married, though she already had three children.  My daughter looked at me and in shock and disbelief said, “Who has three children before they are even married?”

In that moment, I stopped in my tracks.  My heart sank in my chest.  I was numb and everything around me went silent.  In my mind I said, “Your mother, that’s who.”  And I thought to myself: “If she thinks three children and no husband is bad, what about three children by three different men? 

She was indirectly talking about her own mother – for my past was no different, and she didn’t even know it.  And I didn’t bother to tell her.

There are some truths we never want to disclose: some things that we never speak of.

we prefer to die with the truth in us

And after a while we may, ourselves, manage to forget about it; until one day we are reminded of who we really are.

I’ve been out in polite society and I know what kind of stigma is attached to a “three before three” woman, and I’ve never wanted anyone to know that I fit that profile.  I don’t want to be statistic.  I want to be seen as a respectable woman, but the truth of the past had caught up with me – AND IT REALLY HURT.  And I feel like I’m that Woman at the Well.

You know her:  The Samaritan woman we read about in the Gospel of John; the one who didn’t even consider herself worthy enough to have a conversation with Jesus.  The one who was living with a man who wasn’t her husband; who previously had FIVE husbands!  I feel like her.

And she’s not very different from Rehab the prostitute in the Old Testament or the woman who was caught in the act of adultery in the New Testament, who was consequently brought to Jesus to be stoned.  The one who was man-handled and paraded in front of an assembly of people where she stood raw with emotion – with her shame laid bare.

To every woman who’s been at the well – my sisters in hidden shame – God is not finished writing our story. 


Here’s the full truth about these three women that should give us hope:

1) Rehab the prostitute was honored by God for her righteous act of helping two Israelite spies to escape.  She later married Salmon and became the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth from whose son, Obed, Jesse the father of David came.  Christ came through the line of David!

2) Jesus didn’t condemn or talk down to the woman at the well.  He loving exposed the sin in her life and she went away in awe . . . a changed woman; and many believed on the Lord because of her.  (John 4:1-42)

3) The woman caught in the act of adultery wasn’t stoned to death.  Jesus did not condemn her, but instead, He lovingly used her situation to expose the sin in her accusers’ hearts: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  (John 8:1-11)

My Dear Sister, if you’ve been that Woman at the Well in the past, I know you are hurting, but please know this: God is an expert at making beautiful things out of the brokenness of our lives.  He gives us a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  (Isaiah 61:1-3)  What an amazing trade off!

If you are at the well right now, or if you have strayed, please know that no matter what you’ve done, God loves you with a crazy love and He is actively pursuing you.  You are that one sheep He seeks after longingly, while He leaves the other 99 sheep behind, because you’re worth it and He loves radically.  (Matthew 18:10-14)

“I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.”  (Psalm 119:176)

Jesus is our Great Physician.  He didn’t come for the healthy, but for the sick; and we are all sick.  And in one way or another – we are all that Woman at the Well.

I’ve shared this article at these fabulous faith and family link-ups.

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  1. I am so thankful I stayed up a little late to read this, Tiffiney! You wrote this so beautifully. So authentically. A way that shares the powerful love, forgiveness, and redemption of Christ. So many of us share in the story of the Woman at the Well. Holding onto shame and allowing it to rob us of our future. I praise God for setting me free from the chains of shame. My children know a portion of my painful past, but there is more still to tell. As they get old enough, I will share, but I must be honest in saying the thought of it makes me uncomfortable! Thank you for this beautiful hope that you shared with us at Moments of Hope! You are such a gift!
    Blessings and smiles,

    • Hi Lori,

      I’m so glad that this post resonated with you. Even reading your comments, in some small way, has helped to free me from the chains of my shame. Thank you so much for (staying up and) stopping by.

  2. Oh, the woman at the well…I know her well…maybe too well. But I also know the redeemed and restored woman she was after her encounter with the Savior. I think I know her even better. I understand her passionate love for Jesus…and I think you do, too, Tiffiney.
    I have chosen your post for this week’s Grace and Truth on my site. Be sure to hop on over tomorrow (Friday) to get the ‘I was featured’ button for your post!
    Thanks for linking up with Grace and Truth!

  3. I can relate to this too. My past is somewhat “colorful” and there have been days in the past where I felt unworthy. But then one day I realized, my worth doesn’t come through what I DO, but by Jesus alone. Enjoyed reading your post!


    • Hi Sherry, what an awesome realization you’ve made. How wonderful is it to know that our worth is not dependent on anything we have, can or will do…but on the person of Jesus Christ alone. Blessings to you and thank you so much for stopping by!

  4. I love your heart Tiffiney! I am consistently amazed at the love of Jesus Christ. If we as a whole could just mimic Him… the way he treated others, the grace He gave, the sacrifices He made…

    And if women every where could just grasp His love for them… if every “woman’s at the well” {i know that is SO grammarically uncorrect} could grasp the life He has for them-no matter what they’ve done or where they’ve been…

    I’m inspired and encouraged by your words!!!


    • Hey Shannon! Thank you so much for stopping by to share your kind words. Having you affirm what I’ve written means so much. You have an amazing testimony and I’m grateful that I was able to share it on Facebook and highlight in on one of my posts. I pray it brings inspiration and hope to many. Blessings!

  5. First of all.. I love that song! My girls and I sing it a lot as we walk around the house together. It is convicting and soul-building courageous. 🙂
    Secondly, that story about the woman at the well, is also one of my favorites. Her story could be anyone of us… because we all are broken if we are honest,right? When you read that story, my most favorite part is that she was the first person that Jesus actually revealed Himself to; even before the disciples! And she became one of the first evangelists as she took that message and brought her town to the Lord.

    Great post and may your heart be encouraged as you have encouraged others.

    • Hi Dawn, Thanks so much for your encouraging words! I’ve never considered your point about her being the first person that Jesus revealed himself to. Wow! But isn’t that just like God? Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing this unique perspective. :o)

  6. Without saying much, I can very much relate to this. I teach a primary class at church consisting of kids from 8-11 years old, and when we talk about Jesus washing away our sins, I feel this spotlight on me like “yeah, that one!” This was such a great read. Thank you 🙂

    • Hello Dear Leah, Ah…that spotlight – I know it all too well. I went to church tonight for Good Friday service and was completely encouraged by a Paul Washer video clip my pastor shared with the congregation. I’m (slowly) learning to believe the word of God and to internalize that I’m completely forgiven and set free from past sins. I know I still have more growing to do in this area, but I’m so glad that God’s not done working on me yet! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your heart.

  7. Well said Tiffiney. God sees us as his beautiful children. May He continue to richly bless you and yours. There a definite blessings that come from our brokenness. Thanks for sharing such a heartfelt and sincere post So glad to visit via Grace & Truth today. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a blessed Resurrection Sunday!

    • Hi Horace, Blessings from brokeness? I do agree and the more I walk with Christ, the more I understand this concept. Thanks so much for stopping by. I love the Grace and Truth linkup! Have a wonderful weekend and please come again soon.

  8. Tiffiney, your thoughts and obvious heart for others who’ve “been there” is beautiful. What a blessing! Thank you for being brave enough to share. Over and over, I’m reminded God is glorified DESPITE me. As He heals me, He is glorified. When I pretend to have everything together I lose opportunities to love others for His glory.

    Thank you for sharing. We are not called to live in fear and shame (OR to pretend we’re perfect). He shines brightly through you in this post.

    • Hey Nicole, you have really touched my heart with your words. What you’ve written are clear reminders about how it’s not about us, it’s about the Lord being glorified through us. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your heart. It’s been great having you. Please visit again soon. :o)

  9. Yes, Jesus gives you and every one of us beauty for our ashes, joy for our despair, Tiffiney! Thank you for being so vulnerable, brave and open about your past sins and reminding us that our God’s grace is always bigger! I certainly don’t think less of you for your past, my friend! I think more of you for being willing to share in a redemptive and compassionate way! Love it!

    • Aww…Beth, thank you so much for your kind and affirming words. And thanks for stopping by. It’s always a pleasure having you. Have a blessed Good Friday and Resurrection Day, my friend!

  10. Tiffany, What a beautiful post. I can certainly relate to feeling like the woman at the well and questions we hope our children never ask as their are stories that I don’t want to tell. Very encouraging story! Great post.


  11. Stopping by from Titus 2 Tuesday… “To every woman who’s been at the well – my sisters in hidden shame – God is not finished writing our story.” <<< Love this! So thankful that our stories don't end with our mistakes!

  12. AMEN, Tiffiney!! Thank the Lord we have a God who redeems and sets us free from past sin! As far as the east is from the west, He remembers it no more, so why should we? I love your story of redemption. God is good! Thanks for sharing this at Mama Moment Monday!

    • Hi Alisa! It’s my pleasure to stop by and link up. So glad I found you. :o) Thanks for stopping by to comment.

  13. I think it’s wonderful that you are able to share your truth and know that it has no bearing on the person you are. What matters most is your loving heart and your willingness to inspire and encourage others from your life stories.
    I’ve been judged for being a young mother (in the past, I’m not as young anymore) and for some reason my 20 year-old self was strong enough to NOT care. I was happy, in love, and I was the best 21 year-old mother; I wish I had some of the confidence back 🙂
    Thanks for sharing with us at #MMBH!

    • Hi Mrs. AOK!

      I’m so happy that you stopped by. People should never judge you for being a young mom. If I had to go out on a limb and take a wild guess – I’d imagine they judged you for being 21 and single? I could be wrong, but that’s usually how it goes. I know – all too well, as I was a teen mom. I had my sweet little Ashley at 17! And you know what? I was pregnant again out of wedlock at 21! (Way to go, Tiff!) And I was put on church discipline and the whole 9 (which is blog post for another day). And while I wasn’t fond of all the tenants of my “discipline,” I do realize that conception outside of marriage is nothing to be applauded, and actually, should be discouraged. This is ONLY because God has the ultimate wisdom – He knew that children would need permanency to thrive: a father and a mother who are committed to each other and the well being of their child. Children who are born outside of this family composition do not tend to fare as well as those who do.

      Now, what did that mean for my little Ashley (and millions of others born into one parent households)? It meant that she would, in some way, experience some of the glitches that come along with a child being split between two households – and she would later experience the glitch of bonding with my future husband – her “step” father. That was NOT so easy – because BLENDING is always a “WILD” card – you don’t know what the outcomes will be.

      Again, I could have this all wrong with my “single-parent” assumption. If I do, PLEASE FORGIVE ME for my 10 minute rant! In that case, it’s clear that I am whacked out (no secret there) and in need of some therapy – which I am trying to get for free through this website. If I’m right, however, please accept my apology on behalf of anyone who may have tried to share the truth of God’s word with you WITHOUT loving on you. I know what it’s like to be made to feel like there must be some sort of punishment because my sin became public knowledge. I wore my pregnancy like a “scarlet letter” even though I had REPENTED and had been forgiven by God. So again, so sorry if that was you.

      I’m glad to hear you rocked motherhood at 21! That’s a hard and noble task at such an early age. Kuddo’s to you (and thank God for His great grace which keeps us all). Oh, and about that confidence thing…I pray that you get it back. Stick around and we can both try to find ours together. :o)

      LOVE, Hugs and Kisses,

  14. Thank you for being open and honest. It’s always difficult to admit the truth especially when a preconceived image of myself has been erected. I don’t want that image to stay there, but at the same time I don’t like exposing myself for fear of rejection. But that’s what being vulnerable is.
    Thank you so much for this encouraging post!

    • Hi Haley! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I really appreciate your feedback. This topic was so sensitive to me that I couldn’t even throw out any questions to solicit feedback. :o)

      It’s always a pleasure having one of the Long Ladies stop by.


  15. Tiffiney, thank you for this bold story of beauty out of brokenness. May you find grace and words for your children, and may God use your story for His glory and the healing and encouragement of many women who also are waiting at the well.

    • Hi Michelle, Happy Monday!

      Thank you so much for your encouraging words and prayer, and for wishing me grace. I certainly need it. :o) Have a blessed week!

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