As we charge forward into the hustle and bustle of the holidays, my heart hurts for those who do not get to experience some of the blessings of the season. I see them struggling because they don’t feel worthy of relationships with others or even worthy of being loved. Maybe it’s because they have made mistakes in the past, or have been hurt by the mistakes of others. Maybe they have always felt like they were on the outside looking in. 

I wish I could shout from the mountaintops that they are so much more than their mistakes or the mistakes of others! I would share about my friend, Jesus, who always has my back, and who loves me despite my bruises and hurts. He always reveals my worth to me, even in the moments when I do not see them through my own eyes. 

I would share how the world viewed the Samaritan Woman, how Jesus saw someone quite different in her, and how He has the power to see something quite different in each of us. 

Her story is in the book of John 4:1-42, and there we learn that she is a woman who has been defined by her mistakes by her culture and community, and yet is among the first to believe in Jesus. For the Samaritan Woman, the culture of the day rejected her and viewed her as a person to avoid. She had been married five times and was living with a man outside of marriage. Needless to say, no one invited her to tea or asked her to be a mentor. She was an outcast and considered off-limits as a friend.

But not to my friend, Jesus! He looked upon her with compassion and instead of focusing on her current living situation or her past marriages, he saw beyond her mistakes to the extraordinary potential of what He would do in her life. He saw her heart and knew that in His presence, she would be transformed and become the ultimate candidateto engage the people on his behalf. He knew that her transformation would open the hearts of the people there to an awakening that would make Samaria a key cornerstone of the early church.

Jesus went on to ask the Samaritan Woman to call her husband to join her and to hear about the living water. Her answer was, “I don’t have a husband.” 

But Jesus, while acknowledging her mistakes, also didn’t define her by them, because He knows He is about to change her life forever. She continued to ask Jesus questions, showing that she was open to His teaching. And do you know what? She later says, “I know the Messiah is coming, and he will declare all things to us.” 

Here was a woman beaten down by life and her neighbors, yet she stillheld onto the hope of the coming Messiah, Jesus!

This was the moment Jesus had been waiting for. Where the world saw brokenness and scandal, He saw a woman of humility, vulnerability, teachability, and hope. Without hesitation, Jesus chose her—this woman at the bottom of everyone’s list, rejected and cast aside, to reveal publicly that He indeed was the promised Messiah.

Where others saw “sinner,” Jesus saw potential. And after being in the presence of Jesus, she was truly transformed. She dropped her waterpot and ran back to tell her fellow villagers about Jesus. Her faith and Jesus’ love resulted in many people believing in Jesus and choosing to follow Him. The door to Samaria was opened because Jesus saw beyond the surface. He did not define her by her mistakes but as one loved by God.

What about you? Are you ready to completely open your heart? To leave your bruises, mistakes, and hurt behind you? The reality is we all have hurts under the surface. But Jesus shows us that love can penetrate past the outward mistakes and redeem the inner workings of our hearts and character. He can transform our lives too, and change how we see and define ourselves, not by our mistakes, but by His love for us. 

I am sure there are moments for all of us when we struggle to see beyond our failures, to the potential God sees in us. We may even have trouble seeing the potential in others. It’s hard for us to imagine what God can do with our limited resources and finite imaginations, but when God looks at us, He sees a bigger picture. He looks at us through the eyes of possibility, how we can grow, and who we can become. He takes our willing hearts and does amazing things. We just need to step back and realize that we are not defined by the sum of our mistakes but by the sum of our potential in Christ!

When we have hope in Christ, we can better see the possibilities of what the future may hold, and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit not just to lean into our own limited potential, but the unlimited power and potential available to us as God’s beloved children. Like it says in Ephesians 3:20-21, God is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us!

So we can trust that God will guide our path and fill our lives, and the lives of others with joy and hope. Even when life goes differently than we plan, God uses the struggles and the hiccups, to accomplish His will for us. And because of the grace we have been given, we have the ability to show generosity, respect, and compassion for others and for ourselves. 

Through Jesus, we can bless others, and boldly shout from the mountaintops about what is different in our lives, because we have a friend in Jesus. Like the Samaritan Woman, we can lead people in our own circles to become a cornerstone for God.

I encourage you all this week to find that person who maybe doesn’t see their full potential in Jesus yet. Help them to see what the future could hold, and the abundant life that He invites them to. God created us each uniquely and for a purpose. As your life is transformed by your relationship with Jesus, show grace to an unsuspecting person, and let your full potential in Jesus shine! You’ll ultimately help them to shine too!