A Thirsty Soul

We have spent the last two weeks exploring Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well (John 4) and celebrating our very personal God. We cannot step into His blessings and promises without knowing Him. Yet our God repeatedly intervenes along life’s paths to make Himself known, watching to see if we will respond in faith to the encounter. Today, Juliet Sharrow shares her story of pain and God’s intervening love. May her story move you to trust and follow the One who gives life.

A Thirsty Soul by Juliet Sharrow

Juliet Sharrow

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”  Jeremiah 2:13

I have been the woman at the well.  I’d wager you have too. We’ve all had times, whether we want to admit it or not, when we’ve felt like her . . . unworthy, like an outcast, wearing our shame and guilt like a scarlet letter. In those times we try to avoid people, carefully evading their judgment and “knowing glances”.  Yet all the while we’re dying inside, our parched souls crying out for satisfaction but finding none.

My quest to satisfy my thirsty soul began at a young age. My Grandparents wanted my mother to have an abortion.  I was an unplanned child to an 18-year-old unwed mother.  And my young father was not ready for the responsibilities of a wife and child.  From these beginnings came a little girl who felt unloved and rejected from as far back as she can remember.

I grew up without my father; I never even knew his name. I was raised by a wounded mother who was unable to love and a stepfather who was cold and abusive. The words “I love you” were never spoken in our home and hugs were rare.  My stepfather only spoke to me when I did something wrong.  I was not praised or told I did anything right, and I was never told I was beautiful, like every girl dreams of hearing from her daddy.

I was an only child, so everything that happened was somehow my fault. With no one else to blame, my stepfather took all his frustrations out on me. And my mother was too weak, too broken herself, to protect me. I learned at an early age that love has to be earned and that love can be taken back at a moment’s notice. This left me hurting and searching. Searching for love anywhere I could get it. And so began my unquenchable thirst.

My childhood environment taught me this: I was not good enough, was not accepted, and was not loved.  I knew there must be something wrong with me that no one wanted me and no one loved me. I believed I was ugly and unlovable, that no one could EVER love me.

From a young age I went to church with anyone who would take me, mostly to get out of the house and away from my parents.  And when I was old enough to understand about hell, I decided I didn’t want to go there, so I prayed the sinner’s prayer.

But I didn’t understand what accepting Jesus as my Savior really meant.  Once again, I saw rules that had to be followed, and punishment for those that sinned.  I thought God was waiting to punish me every time I did something wrong.  I never felt love from God and I certainly never understood how to love Him back.  He was too distant, and I was too afraid of failing Him along with everyone else.  It never occurred to me that this God might be able to satisfy my thirst.

I thought if He really loved me He would have given me different parents, or He would have sent my real dad in to rescue me.  Have you ever wished you could live someone else’s life? But my real father never came, and things at home only got worse.  I just knew there was no way this perfect God could really love me. I was unlovable. And so my insatiable thirst only grew.

Nothing I did filled the void inside, nothing made me feel loved and accepted.  I hated myself so much, and my relationship with my stepfather had gotten so bad, that as a teenager, every day I wished I was dead.  I would sit on my bed and tell my mom how much I wanted to die.  It consumed my thoughts.  I saw myself as a failure and thought my life was not worth living, but I never got up the nerve to commit suicide.

Not until I was 21.  By this time, my life had spiraled into such a deep pit, I saw no way out.

At first my spiral downward had been exciting, even intoxicating.  I tried to satisfy my thirsty soul with all manner of evils, but the more I gave myself away, the thirstier I got, and I died a little more inside each day. I couldn’t live with the shame and guilt I was carrying around, couldn’t live with the horrible choices I had made.  I could not live with myself.

I knew in my heart that no one would miss me. I believed I was doing everyone a favor, and this would finally make the pain go away. So I took a bunch of pills and went to sleep knowing it was finally over.

But God had other plans for me. He sent paramedics to break down my door and save me from myself. As I lay there in and out of consciousness, I heard singing! Just one voice, a man, so tender and sweet, singing, “I will always love you, I will always love you, I will always love you, yes I will!”

I experienced the blessing of Zephaniah 3:17 that day,

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

God wasn’t so distant after all. In fact, I discovered He goes out of His way to meet us where we are. Just like Jesus went to Samaria to rescue a woman at a well, He pursues each one of us. And He came to me in my darkest hour. As I lay dying, He sang His love over me and carried me back to the land of the living.

I should have died that day. The doctors did not understand how I made it, but I did. A loving God had intersected my path to show me that I was worth loving. Unfortunately, I wasn’t yet ready to believe Him.

Visit us next week to read the rest of Juliet’s story!

The Father’s Love

This week’s post comes from Juliet Sharrow, my dear friend and assistant in ministry. Her story reveals God's great power to redeem. I pray that it will bless you and help you to know that you are never alone, no matter how desparately isolated you feel. No matter your circumstance, your Heavenly Father rejoices over you, and He will never abandon you. Be blessed, dear one.


Guest Author Juliet Sharrow

I was 21 and my life had spiraled into such a deep pit, I saw no way out. I was in pain, pain that I could not bear. All I wanted was someone to love me for me, to accept me the way I was.

I never felt loved as a child. I was never told I was pretty. No one told me I was good at anything. I felt unloved and ugly, like a failure.  And because of this, I did what failures often do. I made one bad choice after another trying to earn love and acceptance. By the age of 21, I was finished. I decided to kill myself.

I knew in my heart that no one would miss me. I knew that I was doing everyone a favor. I had convinced myself that this was the answer.  This would make the pain go away. I was desperate to make the pain go away!

Have you ever been there, my friend?  Willing to do anything to make the pain go away?  Maybe you didn’t resort to suicide for your way out. Perhaps you turned to alcohol to dull the pain, or drugs to help you forget, or maybe the arms of a man to try to fill the emptiness inside.

I saw death as my only escape, so I made up my mind and took a whole mix of pills.  I went to sleep knowing it would soon be over; I would never be in pain again!

But God had other plans for me. He sent paramedics to break down my door and save me from myself.

As I lay there fading in and out of consciousness, I heard singing!  Just one voice—a man’s voice—so tender and sweet, singing, “I will always love you . . . I will always love you . . . I will always love you . . . yes, I will!”

 Zephaniah 3:17 teaches,

" . . . He will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

I should have died that day. The doctors did not understand how I made it. But I did.

You might think at this point I surrendered to God. No, not me!  Instead I knew I deserved to be punished, not just for trying to take my own life, but for all the bad choices I had made, for all the times I had turned from God and went my own way. And so I ran, right into the arms of an abusive man.

When he hit me that first time, I knew I deserved it. I deserved every beating, every broken bone—every humiliation! For almost 3 years I was beaten every day, and I would think, maybe today he'll kill me.

Then God sent me a precious gift, a life saving gift. He sent me a son.  And how I loved that child! I took many beatings to protect him. I cried out to God to save him from my fate. And one day the revelation came. I would do anything for this child, and he deserved a better life than this. I loved him so much I'd die to save him, and that's when God spoke into my heart, "Don't you see? That's how much I love you. I gave up MY son for you!" 

I thought of John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten son…” And I realized God was saying He so loved Juliet that He gave His only son to die for me!  He loved me enough to sacrifice His son for me!

I had never believed that God could love me unconditionally, because I did not understand unconditional love.  I had never known that kind of love.  I never knew my real father, and the man who raised me was strict and unloving, even cruel at times.  He was always condemning, punishing, and berating, never forgiving and loving. So I thought my heavenly father must be the same.

That day God revealed to me how much He loved me, and He showed me He’d always been there. He reminded me how He had sung over me as I tried to take my own life.  He reminded me that He would always love me, no matter how far away I ran, or how many times I turned my back on Him, or how many bad choices I made!  

Having my son showed me what unconditional love was for the first time. And so my love for my son saved my life in more ways than one. I found the strength to leave my abuser. I found new life and love in the arms of my heavenly Father, love no one on earth could give me.   And God showed me there was purpose in all my pain.

Do you know the Father’s love, my friend?  Have you allowed Him to sing over you?