In essence ‘The Exchange’ tells a familiar and sadly ubiquitous story of how easily people are judged for their past and present mistakes before really taking the time to sit and try to understand the story behind the situation. Samantha had everything when she was growing up, but through no fault of her own, life as she knew it was upheaved when she lost her parents to a drunk driver aged just ten. The torment, judgement and rejection that followed only made her hostile, causing her to despise people and hate herself. When she meets an unknown homeless stranger, he has a profound impact on her. For the first time he listens, he doesn’t judge, and more importantly he understands and accepts her. Upon receiving this random act of unconditional love, her disdain, and her anger dissipates, and she begins to love herself again. After this profound encounter her new life begins, she is compelled to spread this new found love starting with an act of forgiveness. Finally, we see the ripple effects of this exchange when not only does her new life begin but she uses this gift to forgive the man who killed her parents also.
The Women at the Well in John 4 is a powerful story on so many levels and once I had read and researched, it made a long-lasting impression. At its core it is about someone who is judged everyday not only for how she looks but for how she behaves, and the life choices she has made but an encounter with her saviour changes all of that and she is immediately set free from the bondage which enslaves her. In the story we read that right after meeting Jesus, the woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did!”.. and it's okay! Rejection, judgement, and the subsequent mental health struggles which so often follow can affect all of us but what this story so beautifully depicts is how the power of talking, acceptance and random acts of love really can change not only an individual's world but the world around them too.