The Woman at the Well

The Woman at the Well

My soul longs for you as a parched land.

The memory of honeyed smiles crumbled

and caught by the wind of too-many-words

has scattered among the freeze-dried roses.

Dust fountains, flowing with artificial love

choke the living well,

and like the foreign woman

I have poured buckets of dirt into cracked clay pots.

Sir, give me this water,

this living water,

that I might not have to

come here again

to lower my craving

into the dark well


Jesus often chose to reveal profound truths about himself to women first. He ignored a lot of cultural taboos. The revelation of his true identity to a lone woman at a well in Samaria is one example. I’ve heard so many sermons about this woman and her five husbands and the one she was shacked up with who was not her husband. Across the centuries she is still judged as being promiscuous -and probably seductive.

I knew a woman who had been married five times. I admit to some curiosity as to how she managed to snag five men when I had lovely, talented, caring, single friends in their forties and fifties who had not yet managed to snag one.

Then I met her fifth.

Well, let’s just say anyone could catch one of those. Most people with sense would have taken him off the hook and thrown him back in.

The thing about the cultural norms Jesus was defying is that they were different from many of ours. We don’t realize how revolutionary his relationships with women were unless we understand how disrespected and powerless they were in that place, at that time. Women could not choose to divorce. Men chose to divorce. A provision for divorce was made in the Jewish law so a rejected woman would not starve. A divorce allowed another man to claim her as property so she wouldn’t languish in poverty like many widows in India used to, for example.

If the woman at the well had five husbands and another guy, it’s because she was either widowed or rejected five times. The most common cause for rejection was sterility, a source of shame in a place where women were treated like cattle. The likely reason for her to be at the well alone in the heat of the day was not that others considered her a tart, but that she considered herself as damaged, rejected goods. The guy who was not even her husband was probably at the end of a line of very poor options.

Her astounding boldness demonstrated by running back into the town to tell everyone about the man who told her everything about her life at her Messiah encounter speaks of the change of identity Jesus is able to impart. He is not unaware of our reality; he does not reject us for it, but he offers us a better one.

Encounters with Jesus, the real Jesus, the living water, cause us to see ourselves differently. When we understand who he sees us to be, we can leave the craving for identity behind, run in new freedom and make a difference in the world.

11 thoughts on “The Woman at the Well

  1. Charis~ YOUR writing and powerful theme is effective and affected my soul in a beautiful and humbling reminder. THANK YOU for 1~keeping the 1st commandment and naturally the 2nd… You might like to peruse Camille Fronk books, she is an incredible woman of faith and insight. Do you suggest an author to me? Fondly ~Deborah


      1. Don’t worry friend ~ pc’s have a mind of their own 🙂 I’ll look into that author… do you have any reading device? there’s a wonderful free ebook out in Amazon, different formats called The Most BEAUTIFUL Thing by Fiona Robyn, you’d enjoy her blog under Blogger-check it out when u wish. Bless u–Debbie


  2. Natisha Assum

    Divorce is not always good. You should always work out first the problems in your marriage before settling into divorce. In asian countries, divorce is almost completely unheard of for the reason that they have lots of patience on their marriage. :.`”`


  3. I agree Natisha, divorce is not good. But in some cultures women did not have a choice to stay in the marriage if their husbands rejected them. A person who has been rejected needs our love and understanding.


  4. Pingback: Holy Ambush – Charis: Subject to Change

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