I am broken at your feet,
poured out before you now
I have nothing left to give
Yet this is where praise begins
it fills the spaces between the shards
of my shattered heart
this is where worship comes
and makes brokenness beautiful
and penetrates the emptiest places in me
She heard that He was in town, this Jesus whom she had heard so much about—healing, forgiveness, celebration filled all the reports. She heard that He was going to be eating dinner at a prominent man’s house, a religious man whose eyes always seemed to find hers—full of judgement, daggers aimed for her heart. But something about Jesus drew her even to this man’s home.
She got ready. She wrapped her face and hair up in her shawl, the color of sky, stark against her light olive skin and charcoal hair. Her white tunic never seemed white enough or long enough to cover her shame, to cover all that she felt needed to be covered—all of it, all of her.
Her eyes were already red-rimmed, the tears were already steady. She was leaving a room of sin, a home of sin, which she suddenly was uncomfortable with. She knew she had to leave. She had to encounter Jesus. She had to meet Him. What would those moments with Him hold? She had hope, but she also had fear, so much fear. Would He break her more? Would He bind her broken heart up? What would everyone else around Him say? Would He let them speak? Would He silence them? What would she do?
The questions taunted her, making her heart beat faster and faster until she headed towards the door. Then she saw it—the tiny jar she had been given for payment. A reminder of the life she was leaving. And yet it was the best thing she owned. Its contents were sweet, fragrant, a scent known by all as the most exquisite and expensive that one could buy. Or that one could give.
With a shaking hand, she took it off the shelf. It’s seal had never been broken; she didn’t feel worthy to wear it, she didn’t need any more attention than her reputation had already spread throughout the town—even throughout those she would walk in on tonight.
But she wasn’t going for them.
Her hand gripped over the curves of the jar of perfume, and she walked towards her door.
She averted her eyes from all she passed; could they tell where she was headed? She fought the taunting, shame-filled questions in her own mind and walked more quickly. She wasn’t prepared for how quickly she reached the entry of this man’s home. She could smell the food, the wine, the sweat of the men inside. With a quick breath in, she entered.
The atmosphere seemed to stop, the air itself halting at her entrance. But she tightened her hands more, averting her eyes to the floor as soon as she realized where this Jesus was seated. Strangely, his feet were the dirtiest that she saw in the room.
Does He feel the same way I do tonight? His dirty feet give it all away—He is just as unwelcome here as I am.
She then realized that she had no idea what she had planned to do. So she did the only thing she could do: she knelt behind Jesus’ feet.
The silence in the room made her throat catch on a lump of tears. And her sobs soon filled the room.
But she bowed lower, not trying to stifle them, but realizing what she could do with her tears—she could wash Jesus’ feet. No one else has.
The silence closed in until she felt as if it was just her and Jesus there.
Her tears became water.
She forgot her culture’s rules in light of this way she discovered she could worship Jesus—she unwrapped the shawl and let her hair fall down, its fullness covering her face as well as Jesus’ feet. She wiped off the tears, the dirt, the grime. She washed His feet with the only thing she had—herself.
And, then, she broke the jar’s seal. Its heady fragrance overpowered every other scent in the room. She poured it out, just as her own tears had poured out, over Jesus’ now-clean feet. It was all she had left to give, and she gave it all away.
And suddenly, her brokenness didn’t feel broken any more. She felt whole. She felt beautiful. She felt forgiven. She felt loved. And it poured out in worship, in serving, in loving this Jesus right back. Surely it was His presence changing her. It wasn’t her action—it was what drew her to action. It wasn’t anyone’s thoughts that mattered—it was His towards her.
Someone cleared his throat, a deep, resentful grunt. Then, Jesus spoke. She listened through the continuing tears. She remained low over His feet. He spoke of debt and of forgiveness. He spoke of love being greater the greater the forgiveness.
And then, He turned to her. His eyes searched hers as He spoke.
This woman has welcomed me here. You did not, He said to the host. She is forgiven; she has loved me. The one forgiven little loves little.
Will He speak to me, now? After silencing His host? Will He now silence me?
Your sins are forgiven, daughter. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.
His voice penetrated my heart, breaking it all over again. But this time in thankfulness, in joy, in freedom, in beauty, in peace—the first taste I’ve ever had of life, true life itself lived out of this place of His presence, His abundant forgiveness that asks no questions and offers no answers outside of Himself.
I don’t know how long she remained there, eyes locked with the One who spoke beauty over her brokenness, but I know how long it takes me to get up from that spot. Emptiness of everything seems to glue me to the spot, but His voice says, Go. Go in peace. Get up from here—let Me fill you now. You’ve emptied everything else out, you’ve given Me yourself. Let Me give you Myself now.