The midday sun shone down on her neck as she adjusted the weight of the jar and continued on her way. Her thoughts wandered as she tried to block out the scorching heat.
“It would be wonderful if I could go to the well when everyone else did. It’d be so much easier than trudging here at the hottest time … and all alone,” she thought sadly to herself.
Oh how she longed for conversation — friendship — with the other women. She allowed herself to imagine for a brief moment that it was evening and that at the end of her journey she would be greeted by friendly faces, welcoming women who would share with her the news in their lives and ask about her own. She imagined laughter and camaraderie as the women took turns recounting different parts of their day.
Her reverie was cut short as she approached the well. It wasn’t abandoned, as it usually was when she came for water. Instead, a man sat alone. She tried to quickly look down and avoid eye contact, but when he glanced up, his gaze caught hers and she couldn’t look away. It was as if he looked right through her.
The Samaritan woman is mentioned in John, chapter 4. Reading about how Jesus met this woman (who was alone and probably considered an outcast) moves me every time I read it.
A little research sets the stage for why this woman was alone. Most women traveled to retrieve water at the same time of day — morning or evening, when it’s coolest — but this woman came all by herself. When Jesus tells her to go get her husband and come back to the well, she attempts to use a clever half-truth to tell him she isn’t married. It’s during the course of her conversation with Jesus that we learn she’s been divorced five times and is currently living with a man who isn’t her husband. At this point, even in our modern-day culture of loose morals and disposable marriages, most would attach a label to her, without even knowing her whole story.
I can’t help but imagine her embarrassment at being called out, yet again, for her shortcomings and her faults — and by a Jew no less! A man with whom her people did not associate. I wonder if her combative tone and the way she redirected the conversation was a defense tactic to avoid speaking about that which has already caused her so much pain and brought her to this place of isolation. Even though she attempts to bait Jesus with tricky questions and direct His attention elsewhere, He never once speaks condescendingly or disparagingly to her.
I’m not sure if their entire conversation is recorded in the book of John. I’d like to think, based on something she says later to the people of her town, that Jesus spent time listening to her and speaking into her life. I’d love to imagine that as she faced the shame and guilt of being a broken, unclean woman with tears escaping her eyes and sliding down dust-covered cheeks, that Jesus gently lifted her chin, wiped away her tears, and told her of her great worth and value to the Father. Even as I wrote those words, my own eyes filled with tears. You see …I am the woman at the well.
I’m twice divorced, three times married. I’ve walked many paths alone, wearing the label of outcast and shouldering the judgment of my peers. I’ve baited and redirected and avoided many a conversation to avoid facing my past. I’ve wandered in the desert at the hottest time of day, with a deep need unmet, never expecting to encounter Jesus the way I did.
Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”
It only took one meeting with Jesus to change this woman forever. An amazing point to note is in verse 29 of chapter 4 [above]. This woman was so excited to tell the people of her town — the very people who shunned her — about this man who had detailed every part of her life. The very thing she used to avoid and try to hide, she was now publicly proclaiming! She was so excited, in fact, that she left her water jar behind in her haste to go tell everyone about her encounter. But why?
I think this selection in scripture so beautifully captures the way Christ comes to us all. He meets us where we are, just as we are, and we leave the encounter rejuvenated and refocused. Because He fills us to overflowing, we find ourselves focusing on Him instead of the shame and guilt we’ve been carrying or the things we thought we needed to fill our deep well. Even when He’s pointing out hard truths to us, Jesus is kind and loving. He’s never condescending or disparaging, but instead, He gently turns our gaze from the sin of our past to the hope of our future in Him.
Have you met Jesus? Maybe your story is nothing like the Samaritan woman’s. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it is in your past or even in your present … Jesus is the living water that will fill you up and never leave you wanting. No longer must we travel lonely paths shouldering the burden of being an outcast. Jesus is waiting.
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
So, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. We're so glad you're here!
Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
Get Our Free Ebook!
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions
The Psalms is a book that's rich with the reality of what life's like in this fallen world. Here are...
3 Ways to Navigate Personality Differences
Sometimes personality differences can wear on us. Here are three ways we can navigate them in a loving manner.
Surprised By ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’
If you haven't seen this film, God may speak to your heart through it in ways you weren't expecting.
The Wedding Ring
Are you struggling in your marriage? Here's how a wedding ring helped one wife fight for her marriage.
5 Ways to Live an Out-of-Control Life
Here are 5 ways to let go of control and trust your present and your future to God.
5 Creative Places to Find Prayer Accountability
Do you want to pray more, but are easily distracted? Here are some practical ways to stay focused.
How to Rescue a Day Gone Wrong in Your Marriage
Just because a day doesn't start well, doesn't mean you can't rescue it.
What Women Are Saying
-- Emily P. Freeman, author of Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.
Faith4 years ago
When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds
Motherhood4 years ago
Surviving a Strong-Willed Child
Faith5 years ago
7 Ways to Create A Family Altar
Friendship6 years ago
Beyond the Registry: The Ultimate Gift Guide for Expectant Parents
Relationships4 months ago
5 Ways to Teach Your Child to Hear God
Marriage6 years ago
4 Reasons I’m Not Facebook Friends With My Husband
Everyday Faith5 years ago
6 Simple Ways to Give Thanks in the Thick of It
Articles5 years ago
10 Ways Life is Like a Box of Chocolates
Articles7 years ago
How to Lift Up the One You Love
Articles5 years ago
Relationships9 months ago
Facing Our Motherhood Fears
Digging Into Scripture1 month ago
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions