The Woman and The Well

Y’all, can I just vent for a minute?

My daughter is in the “princess” stage of life and, although its all very sweet and innocent, sometimes I cringe a little on the inside.  It’s not that I dislike Disney or even princesses.  It’s just the whole concept is a little far-fetched, don’t ya think?

For a girl’s entire childhood we dress her up like a princess.

Crowns, dresses, shoes and Prince Charming….how wonderful.

“Happily Ever After”, some would say.

Isn’t it sweet, marvelous and a big fat lie???

I know this sounds like I have a big Disney chip on my shoulder or something.  But, that’s not it at all, I just want my daughter to grow up with a few more options than waiting to be rescued by a Prince.  For those of you who don’t know me well, I’ve got a little feminist streak in me that just won’t quit.  Don’t even get me started on Barbie.

Now, y’all calm down, I’m not gonna take her plastic crown away.  I guess I’m just trying to figure out the right age to add a little more reality to this princess world I’m living in.

I will say, however, that if you can find woodland creatures to clean my house, I’ll change my position on this whole matter!!!

It’s just that sometimes these little girl fantasies turn into big girl expectations.  And, in my opinion, introducing a little bit of truth here and there benefits everyone.

Because, the truth is that I want my children to realize that sometimes life is hard.  It’s wonderful, beautiful and sometimes really hard.  But, even more important is that I want my children to know where to go when life turns out to be not so happily ever after.

You see, my whole life was spent in church.  As a young child, my faith was strong and my fears were small.  But, as I grew, so did my questions, my doubts and, ultimately, my fears.  My christian life became more about religion and less about relationship.  I kept the rules, but so much was missing.  And, when I came to the end of this rope…myself, I finally surrendered to that voice I first heard as a child…Jesus.

There’s so much confusion in the world right now about religion and christianity.

What it means.

The rules.

The regulations.

And, to be honest, in my opinion, there’s too many opinions.  We, the Christians, have muddied the water and made what I believe was supposed to be a simple, powerful message appear complicated and confusing.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve taken a little step back and become more of an observer.  I’ve tried to write but couldn’t.  I’ve felt the need to be somewhat still and listen to the things around me.  And, what I’ve found is that there are a lot of hurting people who could use a little less religion and a whole lot more of Jesus.

For about six months I’ve been drawn to John 4 like a moth to a flame.  I’ve always loved this story of the Samaritan woman. Maybe because she’s kinda taboo.  I can identify with a rebellious spirit, because deep down I have one.  But, what I’ve learned over the past several months is that maybe I’ve been reading her wrong.  Maybe it’s not so much that she’s taboo, maybe she’s just like me and just like you.  Maybe life just got real hard and she became real lost.

Now, I’m gonna paraphrase here so, please, go read this for yourself.   I can’t possibly share all the symbolism here or bring out every detail.  But, I do want to point out a few things about this woman and Jesus that bring me to tears every time I read it.

What we know about the Samaritan woman is somewhat limited – we don’t even know her name.  But, the details that are provided give us a sneak-peak into her life story.   The text reveals that she’s been married five times and she’s got a live-in, if ya know what I mean.  Now, y’all know that even today this life would be hard because haters are gonna hate – and talk, but in those days it went a little further than gossip – it was more like shame.  So much so that this woman was going to great lengths to avoid people.

John tells us that she went to well to draw water around noon – the hottest part of the day.  Why?  Maybe because she knew that no one would be there in this heat? Maybe she didn’t want to be seen?  She didn’t want hear the whispers or feel the stares.  She just couldn’t take it.  Because she’d rather endure the heat than feel the shame.

And y’all, she hates this well.  She longs to avoid it because it’s a constant reminder of all that has gone wrong.  Every day she stumbles to the well, broken, in the heat of the day, and at the end of herself.  And, its here she encounters Jesus.

Now, Jesus had been traveling and John specifically tells us that he “had to go through Samaria”.  He stops at the well.  He was hot.  He was thirsty.  And he asks her for a drink.

Now, what she knows is what everyone knows – Jews do not associate with Samaritans.  It’s one of those old school, Old Testament sort of things that’s been going on for generations.  They don’t associate – they’re not friends.  A Jewish man should never talk to a Samaritan woman, much less ask her for a drink.

Y’all, this is why I love this story because this is Jesus.  He lived in a culture where religious rules were harsh, strict and impersonal.  Religion isolated certain people and this woman had surely felt it’s sting.

But, Jesus valued a relationship over religion.  And, this is why he “had to go”.

You see, Jesus didn’t have to go through Samaria for traveling purposes.  In fact, many Jews avoided this region all together.  But, Jesus “had to go” because he knew there was a woman at the well.

He knew her nationality, her past and her present.  But, he also knew her brokenness, her guilt and her shame – so, he had to go.  Not to fix her well situation, but to free her from it.  She had been not only literally going to a well for water, but figuratively also.  She was empty and dry from five broken relationships.  She was trying to fill a spiritual thirst with earthy water that only left her thirsty for more.  So, he had to go.

As they talked, he revealed himself to her and she began to realize who he was and why he came.  Nothing had yet changed about her situation, but everything changed about her heart.  You see, Jesus meets us in our darkest hour or maybe in the heat of the day.  And, just like he had to go through Samaria, a few chapters later John reveals that he had to go to the cross.  Because, he knew about you and he knew about me.  On the cross, he knew our past and our present.  He knew about the brokenness, the guilt and the shame.  So, he had to go…

That’s what I believe is the simple powerful message of Jesus.  He meets us where we are and accepts us before we have it all together.  Through the cross he frees us from our brokenness, guilt and shame.  He offers a relationship, living water and eternal life.

And, one of the last details we are given about the woman is that she left her jar and went back into the town and told everyone about Jesus.  Y’all, she left the burden she’d been carrying.  She forgot all about that jar and her shame.  She left the well when she found Jesus.

Is there a well you’ve been running to that just won’t fill you up?

Is there a burden, guilt or shame?

Are you trying to fill a spiritual thirst with earthly water?

Jesus is waiting.  He had to go through Samaria for her – and friend, he had to go to the cross for you.

~Mary Ann

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