by Jennifer Smith Lane
“Leaving her water jar, the [Samaritan] woman went back to town and said to the people, ‘Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?’” John 4:28 NIV
Like the Samaritan woman who sought love and rescue from life’s problems in the arms of men, a dark season of life led me into the counterfeit arms of an eating disorder, hoping it would save me, fix my problems, make me feel loved and accepted.
But it was the worst kind of cheater…instead of rescuing me, it enslaved me. I desperately tried to hide it, but my failing health exposed my secret. My pride could hardly bear the looks of surprise, disappointment, and disapproval I received. I lost friends over it. I lost my spark for life in it. I lost myself in the midst of it. My shame encompassed me.
It became hard to discern truth from the lies. I felt hopeless and alone. I longed for someone to come along and rescue me from the darkness that engulfed me.
No one ever did.
Then one day in my desperation, I cried out to the Lord and He heard my cry. His light exposed the darkness and freed me from my shame, my strongholds, and my sin Just like He did for the Samaritan woman. I walked away from that moment with dignity as she did, because I was transformed from being known as a sinner to a sinner saved by grace.
Why am I telling you my story? Not because I’m proud of it, but because it’s important that we testify just like the Samaritan woman did in the story.
After her encounter with Jesus, the Samaritan woman went back into the village where she was scorned and told the townspeople what happened to her that day. “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of her testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did’” (John 4:39 NIV).
Her story was so compelling that the townspeople went out to meet Jesus. After a while, they said, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world” (John 4:42 NIV). Jesus used her hard story of a sinner, an outcast, saved by grace to draw others to know or desire to know Him.
Your testimony is important too. Maybe you’re thinking: you wouldn’t say that if you knew my story. Or: I couldn’t, what will others think of me if they knew? Or: I’m in the midst of my trial now, so I’ll wait until it’s better. Maybe you have resigned yourself to: I couldn’t do that; I’ll mess up the whole thing.
Lies. All lies.
Don’t let the enemy persuade you to keep silent. Sharing your story of weakness, becoming vulnerable to those who may well be struggling with the same issues, and how Jesus is bringing you out of it will invite others into personal contact with Jesus. Then then Jesus will do the rest.
Mark 13:11 says, “Do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.” The Samaritan woman was in the thick of it and everybody knew her backstory. But when she proclaimed the Messiah, she allowed God to use her story to transform her whole town.
Imagine what could happen if you allow God to use yours?
About the Author: Jennifer Smith Lane is the president and co-founder of the Michigan Eating Disorders Alliance whose mission is to provide education programs to prevent eating disorders. In addition to her non-profit work, she leads an eating and body image ministry walking alongside women on their recovery journey and empowering them to find freedom in Christ. Jennifer and her husband live in Michigan where she enjoys most her role of mom to her three children.
Jennifer’s new book, Transformed: Eating and Body Image Renewal God’s Way, helps women identify the underlying spiritual issues that keep them stuck in eating and body image issues, studies what Scripture has to say about them through inductive Bible study techniques and teaches tools to turn to God for rescue through the spiritual disciplines.
Join the conversation: Have you ever hesitated to share your story? What held you back? Could your journey with Jesus help others on theirs?