Full disclosure of ourselves to another person seldom happens in life–if ever. Full disclosure before a stranger is even less likely, though at times we may actually come closer tot the real thing with a stranger because the implied anonymity makes it feel safe. Imagine the Samaritan woman’s experience of speaking with Jesus (John 4), the latter portions of which are below:
39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
On the Eleventh Day of Lent, the phrase for reflection is what this unnamed woman reported to her friends and fellow villagers: “He told me everything that I ever did.” While we can only speculate as to the length of the conversation between this woman and Jesus beyond what is recorded, it seems likely that on one hand, it consisted of more than what John reports, and on the other that it could not have been inclusive of literally everything. But what we do know is that the woman felt as though this mysteriously wonderful man had put his finger on on what was the core of her self understanding. It must have felt as though nothing remained hidden. And the resulting feeling was one of previously unimagined freedom.
I have little doubt that a majority of people tremble at the thought of having their inner core of thinking being exposed to anyone. It’s frightening because was we are certain that if anyone knew who we “really” are, no one would accept us. Some people go to great lengths to cast an image of themselves that is different from the inner reality, calling attention to what they do in order to divert it from what they are. Nothing new or provocative in that statement–yet the oddity is that even while carefully guarding the image, there is an internal longing to disclose the real person to someone, but only someone who will not be aghast at what is disclosed, and accept us in spite of the truth.
My hunch is that this is just what the Samaritan woman found in Jesus. While her external life history was undoubtedly known among her neighbors, she found someone who knew it and was not of a mind to scoff, snicker, or devalue. Today’s thought is twofold. First, we do have the same access to one who can indeed tell us everything we ever did and accept us anyway–but only because of who he is and what he has done about our condition. The second tought is that we learn to adopt the ways of this Jesus in our approach to other people. It’s so easy to dismiss; it’s difficult to accept those in the turmoil of self-protective anxiety.
Thanks to those who have shared thoughts on how to pray in this series; continue to do so. But also feel free to comment on the post itself.