Forsaken. I have known what it means to be forsaken.
The first sting of rejection came from my own father. He put away my mother and me when I was only four years old. You might not think a child so young could understand rejection, but I did. I understood—understood we did something to make him stop loving us. Something that turned his sweet devotion into wretched hatred.
To this day, I don’t know what I did to anger him. All I know is he was gone. My mother decided to drown her sorrows in cheap wine. I watched her, night after night, from the night he left until the night she died. Yes, I know what it means to be forsaken.
As I grew older, I made sure the price for that sting of rejection was paid by someone else and quickly learned that some men would pay me for my attention. And the more attention I gave them, the higher my price could be. Are you shocked?
Of course, it was always in secret—to protect their reputations, but did they care about my reputation? Of course not. I was not a person to them; I was only an object for their pleasure. Loved for a short time—if you call that love—then back into the streets, despised, ridiculed, forsaken.
What? You didn’t think a woman like me could be hurt by rejection? But it always gnawed at me, reminded me I was, I was different. I was unworthy. I did not deserve to be loved. And then—Him.
I was caught. How it happened, I don’t know, but they caught me with a married man. I was yanked up and dragged into the street—into the light of the scorching midday sun.
The punishment for adultery is a cruel one: all of the good fathers and husbands and other men of the town have the pleasure of throwing stones at the accused woman—me—until she dies. Death may come quickly, mercifully, or not, depending upon the crowd’s size and strength and skill. Some cities get more practice than others.
They spat on me, hurled profanities and names at me—names I well deserved. Then they hauled me through the dusty streets and threw me into the dirt at the feet of this man, this Jesus, whom they laughingly called “Teacher,” and they accused me of my crime.
“Teacher,” they said, “we caught this woman in the very act of adultery.” Their fiery eyes and the cruel edge to their voices showed they were not simply accusing me; somehow they were also accusing this man before whom I cowered and awaited judgment. “In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. What do you say?”
A judge is a man who sits in a high seat above the accused and hands down decrees of punishment. So, I expected this man, this Jesus, to do likewise. But this man was not like the others.
My eyes were blinded by tears, it was difficult to breathe, and my hands were clammy with sweat—evidences of my rightful condemnation.
But He said not a word. He bent down and began to write in the dirt. What was He doing?
The men questioned him again and again. Would I be stoned? What was His decree?