July 25, 2000
We watch her weave a spell as she makes new friends. They are mesmerized by her stories. Every word she says captivates their attention. Little do they know that most of what she tells them is exaggerated and some are outright lies.
Getting to know this person showed me the power of our human need to be loved. In her case, she was not sure. Her mother had been married twice. She had been a pampered child but now in her teens, she was expected to drop the “cute stuff” and act more grown up. This seemed to make her insecure about her family’s affections. Did a change from being the center of attention to acting more “responsible” mean she was no longer loveable?
Driven by insecurity, this young woman becomes a story teller. She spins yarns that take her listeners out of their ordinary existence and makes her fantasies their fantasies — only they sound true. She may even believe her own lies, but that is unlikely.
We caught her a few times, mostly in the details. She mentioned swimming near a particular kind of shark, a variety we knew does not live in the waters where she swam. She told about meeting famous people, or about knowing skills she does not possess. When we questioned her details, she “adjusted” her story and kept right on spinning.
Our goal was convincing her that we love her, no matter what. After a few days, she relaxed. She also stopped telling stories. She seemed to realize that they were not necessary, at least around us.
Jesus met a woman who felt the same need for love and also looked for it in the wrong places. She’d been married five times and currently lived with someone. She seemed ostracized because she went alone during the noon hour for water when other women went early in the day. Perhaps she feared their condemnation.
When Jesus talked to her, she was amazed. Jews never talked to women or to her kind; she was a Samaritan (half-breed Jew and Gentile). Besides, she had a bad reputation and His was flawless.
Jesus wanted her to know that God loves her but how would He get past years of low self-esteem? Just speaking to her helped, but He also asked questions and persisted when she avoided straight answers. He told her He knew how many times she had been married and yet treated her with respect. She wanted to hear more.
He told her how to get living water, the kind that bubbles up into eternal life. She wanted that too. Amazed at this man and His good news, she dropped her water pot and ran to tell everyone in her village to come and hear Him for themselves.
God does love us. The Bible says “God demonstrates his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
He didn’t wait until we cleaned up our act. In fact, He died for us before we were even born. He knew then that our lives would fall short of His glory. He also knew we would need proof that His love is based on what He is, not on what we are or do. We cannot pretend to be anything other than we are before God because we don’t need to.
Our part is to simply be honest, admit our short comings and fears, acknowledge our sins. His love is experienced by those who trust Him, believing He wants the best for us. We can see it first in the sacrifice made on the cross for our sakes.
Human love is a powerful force yet so often it produces dependance on our feelings or makes us objects for imperfect people who want us to measure up to their expectations. God’s love depends only on God and as long as He is God, that love is firm.