Here is the great paradox for the sinful woman, and for all of us who come broken to Jesus: though He has forgiven her, she does not simply cease to be "the sinful woman." Though He has healed us, we do not simply cease to be broken.
It's not because there is some fatal flaw in us that does not accept healing (although one might be able to make a case for this, given all evidence). It's not because Jesus does not truly heal this side of Heaven; He absolutely does. It's not because the healing is somehow metaphorical or somehow requires something more that hasn't happened yet or anything of this sort. No, to argue any of these things would be foolish in light of the incredible power of God, especially His power to heal.
But we cannot cease to be broken, we do not simply stop being "the sinful woman," because to do so would cheapen both the story of us and the story of God.
Imagine if the sinful woman leaves Simon's home and ceases to be the sinful woman. Imagine she pretends that she never was a prostitute, that she's always been a penitent. Imagine that no matter who she encounters, no matter what they say, no matter what someone claims to know about her, she says, "Oh, no. That's not me. I'm a Jesus girl, through and through."
A Jesus girl. What does that even mean? We do this sometimes. A lot of times. We pretend we're Jesus people, but not sinners. We're healed, but were never broken. As though Jesus Himself would be disappointed if we kept talking about our brokenness, if we kept owning our sin (even once, we must say, we have been freed from it and are no longer sinning). But how can we possibly testify to the healing, restorative, amazing power of Jesus if we've never been a people in need of it? What good can we say about God if His goodness has not stood in contrast to our own depraved hearts?
Even after we're healed from it, we still need our brokenness. God still needs our brokenness. It's what makes Him - and us - real.
See, the problem is that somewhere, we got this idea that when Jesus heals us from something, He pulls us out of the pit. He raises us up, sets us on higher ground, and lets us walk away from everything. That's not really how it works. Jesus spends less time pulling people out of pits than He spends crawling down into pits with them. He spends less time lifting up than He does digging out. What happens when you ask God to heal you is not that He brings you up out of your brokenness; it's that He comes down into it with you.
And together, you make the space bigger.
Together, you start beating against the walls. You start clawing your way not up, but out. Making this space that once was your prison your platform. Until there's room for more broken people down here with you and Jesus. Until this is no longer a cistern, but a grand reservoir; not just for watering, but for water sports. You start changing the landscape of your pit until it's no longer a tourist trap, but a destination. Yes, you heard me - brokenness becomes a destination. For no other reason than that Jesus is there.
And if the Gospels have taught us anything, it's that people will go almost anywhere to see Jesus.
Even into the pit of your brokenness.
In fact, something amazing happens here. When people discover Jesus in your pit, they kind of want to get to work on their own. They want to start breaking wide open their own ground. They want to create a space in their pit for Him, and then they want to blow this joint apart. All of a sudden, these pits of brokenness, these places where Jesus is so evident, start popping up all over the map like (name your favorite fast food chain). Everywhere you go, there are these wide open spaces that used to be pits, full of broken people and Jesus.
It has to be this way. It has to. It's the only way to do justice to the amazing grace of God. It's the only way to truly tell His story. Not by being "Jesus people," people who go to church and tithe and read their Bibles but have never needed them. But by being people who live in Jesus pits, by being people who continue to inhabit the broken places of our lives even though they've been redeemed. By being people whose cisterns have become reservoirs of living water, a place where sinners and broken people drop in and wait for a tow, knowing that Jesus boat is about to circle around and pull them up on their skis. These ought to be our lives. These ought to be our testimonies.
We ought not pretend we were never broken. For Lord, if that were the case, what would we ever do with a Savior?