Sometimes my husband is really annoying.
“So, are you gonna let me read it?” he asked.
For, like, the fourth time.
I gave him the look.
The one he knows quite well means I obviously don’t want to go there, so just let it be.
But after nearly 29 years of marriage, he is able to checkmate me with his own look.
(It’s rather cute. He tilts his head just so, and tries for a frown but it comes out more like a half grin.)
And after nearly 29 years of marriage I know quite well what his look means. Go ahead and give me the look. Add a dramatic sigh and roll your eyes if you want. But I’m not going to quit asking.
I sigh. (Maybe even roll my eyes.) Then I turn on the ThinkPad (the one I was gifted with) and find the blog post I had reverted to a draft the day before. I shove it at gently slide it over to him.
I had accompanied him on a work related trip to Albuquerque and the plan was I would tackle some online projects while he worked during the day and then we would explore the city together in the evenings. When his work was completed we would spend a few days in Santa Fe. He returned to the hotel on Monday June 13th and asked if I had made progress on my projects.
“No, but I wrote a blog post.” I told him.
“Cool, I’ll read it when we get back.” He has always edited my posts, usually after they have already been published – checking for spelling mistakes and such, as well as keeping me authentic.
“Well…I think I’m going to delete it,” I said as we headed out to find a restaurant. He wanted to know why. I gave some excuses reasons. For starters, we had spent all day Sunday traveling and hadn’t heard the details of the horrific Orlando shooting. After writing the post, I had checked the news, and was sickened. “I feel funny posting something so inconsequential and personal on the heels of something so massive and tragic.” I said. But really I knew it was just that I didn’t like the idea of sharing personal. Period.
“It must have been written for a reason.” He replied. “I want to read it.” I didn’t say anything, hoping he’d forget.
The next day I reverted it to a draft. That night my husband again asked to read it. But we had plans to visit Old Town and then we spent time on the military base where he was pleasantly surprised to discover the last MH-53J Pave Low helicopter he had been a crew chief on while stationed in Florida was on display there. I made him take a bunch of pictures. He told me stories from when he was stationed in Albuquerque and I was reminded that after all our years together there are still lots of stories we haven’t told each other. It was late when we got back to the hotel. I was sure he would forget by the end of the next day’s activities. I was wrong; he was persistent.
But that isn’t even the annoying part.
After he finished, he said quite matter-of-factly “I think you need to leave it.”
Again, I ran through a little list of reasons why I shouldn’t.
And then, because we’ve been married for nearly 29 years and he long ago earned the right, he asked a few probing and challenging questions.
Like iron sharpening iron.
I used to think of that as a gentle process, like a sweet friend or my handsome spouse maybe gently pointing out a speck in my eye, but at a ministry conference I attended several months ago, I was given a different picture. Iron sharpening iron is often a heated, volatile process with sparks flying. Abrasive. Messy. Uh yeah, I guess I’ve experienced that.
My husband’s questions weren’t unkind or rude, but they were sharp and piercing, and they most assuredly were like hot sparks in my heart.
See what I mean? He can be so annoying sometimes.
(But I do adore him. Most of the time.)
Basically, in very nice terms, he pointed out that I needed to be willing to share the hard parts of life without being prideful, and I need to develop tougher skin.
Okay mostly-adorable-but-sometimes-annoying husband.
Here goes the reposting.
I Will Always be the Woman at the Well
I read the e-mail again.
I could feel my face turning pink, the precise shade of mortification.
I clicked to my most recent blog post to see exactly what I had written that would cause such action by the e-mail writer.
There it was, at the end of the post, the post where I’d written about turning fifty and the delightful “surprise” birthday celebration and the gratitude for family and friends and blog readers who gifted me with a paid-for-registration to a 4-day writer’s conference. I hastily deleted the post which contained those other misunderstood words and wished there was a delete button for the sickish feeling in the pit of my stomach.
At the end of the post I had asked for prayer that I would know which workshops to sign up for and that I would have a working laptop to take with me since my notebook had died.
What I wanted was courage to take my notebook to the computer guru at work and ask for help.
I hate asking for help.
I suppose I could just place the period after asking.
I hate asking.
And my notebook…well…handing that over to someone – even someone as trustworthy as I suspected John-the-Guru to be – when it contains so many personal ramblings on it would leave me feeling slightly vulnerable.
But that wasn’t how the author of the e-mail writer took it.
The e-mail contained a tracking number for a UPS package.
A brand new ThinkPad was on its way to my house.
Omigosh, omigosh, omigosh. I paced the room. Why didn’t I proofread the post better? I should just quit writing. I did NOT want someone sending me a new ThinkPad. I was totally freaking out, yet instinctively knew that this was a bit of an overreaction.
Yeah, I hate asking.
But I was beginning to realize I have a bigger issue with receiving.
I needed to go to the well. Jacob’s well.
Are you familiar with the Samaritan woman? The one at the well? The one in John chapter 4 of the Bible?
We are much the same, she and I.
No, no, I haven’t had five husbands; I’ve been faithfully married to just one. But man, I’ve still got issues, and I still need them to be revealed to me by the One who speaks truth when I’m in denial, the One who knows what I’m made of ’cause He created my inmost being, He knitted me together inside the womb (Psalm 139:13)
In John 4, Jesus, weary from traveling, stops by Jacob’s well, where a Samaritan woman came to draw water. (John 4:1-7)
Jesus began a conversation with the woman by asking her for a drink from the well. (Obviously HE had no issues with asking and receiving!) She was shocked. Why? Beside the fact that a Rabbi rarely spoke to a woman in public, she was a Samaritan woman, and Jews in general despised Samaritans. “The deadly hatred that subsisted between these two nations is known to all…the Jews cursed them and believed them to be accursed…” (from Enduring Word commentary) The fact that this woman came to the well alone rather than in the company of other women as was the norm also indicates that she was an outcast, most likely due to a bad reputation – she’d had five husbands and was currently living with a man that she wasn’t married to. She probably wasn’t used to someone chatting with her.
In fact, chances are she was well acquainted with loneliness and shame. She also seemed good with sarcasm, and changing the subject when she didn’t like the direction of the conversation. Uh huh, kindred spirits, me and that woman at the well.
But the Creator opened her eyes, and revealed not only who she was, but who He was.
The Living Water.
Drink from Me, He said, and you will never thirst again. Not only that, but I will become in you a fountain of water springing up into eternal life.
He is the answer to the deepest longings of the heart.
The fixer of broken places that no five husbands (or any human) could ever mend.
The One who sees us and then forces us to see ourselves.
With eyes of love.
I needed some time by the well myself, I needed God’s Spirit to reveal to me what was going on in my own heart, why I was so agitated over a gift, and why I frequently feel that way. Why don’t I receive well? Except for gifts from my immediate family, I find accepting difficult. Awkward. Thank yous often take longer than they should because I don’t know how to express myself. What is my problem? I wondered. I even have trouble accepting money when I’m SELLING something like Mary Kay or my handmade cards.
And He was faithful to show me, as I sat still in in quietness and prayer.(Yes, I can sit still. In quietness even.)
The answer included pride as well as shame, something I was sure I’d released years ago.
(But I think shame simply tip toes in pride’s shadow, so we don’t always recognize its presence.)
In the stillness, I saw an eighth grade school photograph, of a girl with long, wavy brown hair and freckles. She was wearing her favorite clothes.
Gray corduroy culottes with a matching vest and striped cowl-neck sweater.
Hand me downs from a popular girl at school.
I felt the crispness of paper food stamps.
I also saw a stooped old man, with a loping gait, who used to bring brown bags of goodies to our house…candy bars and chips for the kids, and Kahlua for mom.
I remembered what he tried to take in return.
Faded old memories that should have no bearing on the woman of today but the images were braided together with a long forgotten ribbon that had childish handwriting: One day I will be the master of my own fate; I will rely on no one. I instantly knew why receiving made me feel so awful on a subconscious level.
I didn’t know I was still carrying that junk around. I have arrogantly said “I am healthy and whole, I’ve given my past to Jesus, now let me help you,” to countless others and yet there it was, stuck to the bottom of my Croc like an unwanted piece of chewed gum.
Pride wants to be the one giving, never taking. Pride wants to say “I have it all together, I don’t have any issues left to deal with.” Pride wants to say “I’ve got it under control.” Pride wants to rescue and save and mend and fix, and never, ever be in need.
But as the Spirit of God is revealing ME to me…He also reveals God Himself to me…and He is the balm for
Especially my pride issues.
He shows me a life out of (my) control and into (His) freedom is really where I want to be. He scrapes the gum off.
The Samaritan woman at the well? She ran off to tell others about what Jesus had done…she said “He told me everything I ever did!” (Verses 29 and 39)
I suspect that her excitement wasn’t because Jesus knew all of her secrets, but because HE KNEW HER intimately and why she did what she did, why she repeated certain behaviors.
And because He revealed her great worth and value when she believed she had none.
And because He proved to be the true Redeemer, the One who could rescue her from herself.
I think with His grace I’ll be a little more gracious at accepting gifts, and acknowledging my need.
But I also recognize that I am a work in progress, so I’m always gonna be the Woman at the Well…meeting with the Lord so He can reveal me to me…but more importantly, so He can reveal more of Himself to me.
I pray that as He continues to change me, it will be in such a way that you will want to meet with Him yourself.
That is why I write, and share, as uncomfortable as it can be.
And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all I ever did.” So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” John 4:39-42 NKJV