I am an avid reader. Sometimes I read to hide from my life and get lost in the story of another. Sometimes I read to learn or to investigate. Lately though, I’ve noticed that I’m reading to feel understood. There are a number of books I’ve read recently that were encouraging not because they had the magic answer to anything I’m going through, but because when I read what the author described, I recognized a part of myself. A fellow traveller, with my journey now less lonely because I feel understood. It’s why I blog, actually. It’s what I hope people are able to say when they read my blogs: “Wow, I didn’t know there was someone out there who felt just like me.”
Deep down, we all want to be understood. Beneath a lot of frustration and anger and sadness, there is a foundation of loneliness. Loneliness that can be lessened by the realization that somewhere in the world there beats another heart who has survived the same struggles you have gone through. When you feel like your circumstances have become so bad that surely you can’t be expected to survive much longer, there is nothing more comforting than hearing someone else echo your same thought, the one you thought no one else knew about. The one you were afraid to express. The one deep in your soul that longs to be expressed but holds back due to fear of judgement. Somehow, it seems more survivable when you have someone walking alongside you who just gets it.
As I was scrolling Facebook today, I came across a clip on the Elevation Church page from a message Steven Furtick posted a few months ago. The passage he was preaching from was a familiar one— the story of the woman at the well. But his message focused on something I had not considered before. Everyone familiar with this story remembers that Jesus sent his disciples away to get food, and that the woman was coming to draw water from the well in the middle of the day instead of early in the morning (probably so she could avoid people), and you probably even recall that Jesus told her every secret thing about her life. And that her testimony saved many in her village. But this one verse fell fresh to me.
John 4:4-6 (MSG) says, “…He came to Sychar, a Samaritan village that bordered the field Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was still there. Jesus worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon.”
The message clip was focused on the fact that Jesus sat down because He was tired. Sometimes we read things and we’re super spiritual, and we miss the simple truth that is contained here. This passage is about a miracle in this woman’s life, and it’s about redemption for the people in the woman’s sphere of influence, and how Jesus is the living water, the well that never runs dry. All these things are true. But included here, a few words in a single line, I see the solidarity that I’m so desperate for. Jesus was worn out.
Sometimes we become so focused on His power and His Sovereignty and His holiness, and all these things are absolutely a part of His identity. But y’all, He was human. That was the whole point of HIs existence— the word became flesh to dwell among us. To experience what we experience. To live what we live. To hurt like we hurt. To feel hopeful and sad and angry. To be hungry and thirsty. To know what friendship feels like. What betrayal feels like. To grieve. To laugh. To experience joy. And yes, even to be tired.
There are times when the word that you need from God isn’t a specific answer to a specific prayer, it’s just a wink that says, “I get it.” In the clip, Steven Furtick says, “God, what do I tell the person who is too tired to go on? What do I tell the one who says, ‘I’m too tired?’ And God said, ‘Tell them I got tired too.’”
I have been criticized and judged for the level of transparency I have shown. I have had my wrist slapped by well-meaning-ish people who don’t understand where I am or what my relationship is with my God. I have wondered if maybe He was as mad at me as I get with Him sometimes. But I am not a preacher. I’m not a religious leader. I am flesh and blood, stumbling through life, weary yet pursuing, and called to love like Jesus loved, often misunderstood but with a message rooted in love. That is what I feel called to. Not to point out the shortcomings of others, but to make people feel less alone. And if my messy faith struggle can help you to feel less alone, I invite you to see it all. I have been angry. I have been hopeless. And now, I am tired.
If you are tired today, I remind you that Jesus invites us to come to Him and find rest, and to cast our anxieties on Him, and thousands of other promises. But more than that, I offer you the reminder that He gave to me today— He gets it. He got tired too. You are not alone. You are loved. You are understood. And you are going to make it.