When I first met Aubrey Sampson, I was immediately struck by her deep passion for helping Christians who are hurting, whether struggling with challenges in their past or with the ongoing pain of their present. Beyond her radiant smile is a woman who has lamented and mourned and endured long seasons of pain and suffering. Aubrey is a wise teacher, a gentle guide into the tender spaces of our stories. She’s quick to share her soul and the reason for her hope. It’s a grace to welcome Aubrey to the farm’s front porch today…
Wounds are a part of my story.
I was sexually assaulted on a school bus at age thirteen and four years later by an employer at an after-school job. These are never good memories, to revisit those moments when I felt like a nameless object, used for someone else’s consumption.
“Because of God’s love, my wounds are not my identity.”
My reluctance is not so much about the distressing experiences themselves. I have been through a beautiful journey of healing in Christ, and I am grateful for every opportunity to share the powerful story of how God stepped in to heal me, removing my shame and pain.
Because of God’s love, my wounds are not my identity. I will keep on sharing that until I die. It’s just that I am deeply uninterested in my trauma becoming the defining narrative of my life.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s Gospels each include a story about a woman known only as “a woman having an issue of blood” (Luke 8:43, ASV; see also Matthew 9:20; Mark 5:25). At the beginning of the story, she is defined as no more than her past: She’d bled for twelve years straight, chronically tormented by her illness, isolated from her community because of it.
I don’t want my name to become “the woman with the issue of her trauma.”
But here’s the thing: That “woman having an issue of blood” didn’t stay defined by that. She chose to move toward Jesus, and He changed her name—and her story.
“She chose to move toward Jesus, and He changed her name—and her story.”
The bleeding woman took a massive risk one day and joined the throng of people who were following this extraordinary guy. When she finally drew close enough to see him, still separated by the clamoring crowd, she stretched her entire self toward Jesus.
All her hope, all her wounds, all her doubt, all her heartache, and all her trembling vulnerability grasped like a drowning person reaches for life, and she touched the hem of His clothes.
Barely a brush of contact, but that connection with Jesus erased the thing that had defined her for so long. Suddenly, in an instant, she was whole.
A little while after his encounter with the bleeding woman, the Son of God returned to His hometown to continue His ministry among family and friends. And when I say “ministry,” I mean performing miracles, healing people, overcoming evil, teaching with power, and transforming lives. Jesus was literally personifying the Kingdom of God.
Yet even though this is Jesus, and even though he’s doing all these glory-of-God-worthy things, his friends and neighbors don’t take Him seriously. “He’s just the carpenter’s son,” they say dismissively (Matthew 13:55, NLT). We knew Him when He was little. We know His family. He’s nothing special.
I love that this story is in Scripture because we all have some “He’s just a carpenter” refrain on repeat: places where our pasts or our brokenness or our sense of notenoughness define us. While “carpenter” may not be your exact kryptonite, maybe your “He’s/She’s just a _______” line of thinking goes something like this—
• I’m just a stay-at-home parent—what do I have to offer the world?
• I’m just a mess.
• I’m just too angry/bossy/controlling.
• I’m just an idiot.
• I’m just too weak.
• I’m just too sensitive, too emotional.
• I’m just a terrible sinner.
• I’m just alone.
• I’m just too old or too young.
• I’m just too fat.
• I’m just unworthy.
• I’m just afraid of what others will think.
Or, maybe your “I’m just a __________” beliefs are more along the lines of something like this:
• Everyone will realize I have no idea what I’m doing.
• I didn’t go to college or get a Bible degree, so I have nothing important to say.
• I’m broken, a failure.
• I’m disqualified.
• My best years are behind me.
• I’m damaged goods.
• I’m too traumatized.
We can learn a little something from Jesus in this “prophet in His own hometown without honor” moment.
“Because Jesus fully embraced His identity as God’s beloved Son, everything He did was from a position of approval, not for it.”
Because Jesus fully embraced His identity as God’s beloved Son, everything He did was from a position of approval, not for it. So this hometown rejection didn’t shake Him. The definitions of His past didn’t stick to Him.
Jesus shook the dust off His feet and walked away from those who misnamed Him.
There’s another part of the woman with an issue of blood’s story that I want to share with you. It’s actually my favorite part.
After healing power went out from Him, Jesus longed to find the person who touched Him.
So He combed through the unyielding crowd, ignoring His friends who tried to stop Him. Jesus looked and looked and looked until the woman realized that she could not remain unfound any longer. Ever so cautiously, she came near, falling at Jesus’ feet, afraid of the repercussions of her boldness.
But right there, right in front of her watching hometown, right in front of the community who had labeled her Unclean and Outcast for over a decade, Jesus spoke a blessing and new name over her:
“Daughter,” he declared, “Your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
No longer “a woman having an issue of blood.” Defined by isolation. Defined by shame.
Instead, “Daughter.” Defined by relationship. Defined by belonging. Defined by wholeness.
“I am not defined by my pain anymore.”
This is the real reason why I don’t want the telling thing about me to be “the woman who was twice assaulted.” Partly because others have far more painful journeys than mine. And partly because I get exhausted, emotionally, from reliving the memories.
But mostly, because like the woman with the issue of blood, I am not defined by my pain anymore. I have encountered Jesus. When I couldn’t muscle the wherewithal to be brave, he looked for me. He found me. And he called me Daughter.
I rose, covered in and overcome by His victory. I became whole.
A miniscule amount of faith is all it takes to grasp the hem of Jesus’ endless power and inexhaustible possibility.
You, friend, are invited to reach out and rise up.
Aubrey Sampson serves on the teaching and preaching team at Renewal Church in West Chicago, which she co-planted with her husband, Kevin. She writes regularly for Christine Caine’s Propel Women and has contributed to Proverbs 31, Christianity Today, and more. She has earned her master’s degree in Evangelism and Leadership from Wheaton College and is the co-host of The Common Good daily talk show and the podcast, Nothing is Wasted. She has also authored Overcomer and The Louder Song.
Aubrey’s latest book, Known: How Believing Who God Says You Are Changes Everything, helps hurting Christians find healing so that they can fully embrace their God-given identities and purposes.
Known invites you to understand and embrace what it means to be created and named in the image of God. In the process, it will ignite a passion to speak life-giving names over others, to bless them through the power of the Name that is above every other.
With vulnerability and humor, Aubrey Sampson shows you what it means to be powerfully and personally made and named in the image of God. Everything changes when you believe this incredible truth: You are known by God.
[ Our humble thanks to NavPress for their partnership in today’s devotion ]