Asking for help
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])
- John 4:7-9
Jesus and the unnamed Samaritan woman run into each other in the heat of the day and have a great conversation. That conversation crossed cultural and gender and religious boundaries. How were they able to do it?
These boundaries so often prevent meaningful conversations. We fear being misunderstood. We doubt that real connection is possible. We just don’t have enough opportunity to practice crossing these lines. And so, when the chance does appear, we stay safely wrapped in our shrouds of silence.
But Jesus spoke up. He showed vulnerability and asked for help. The same man who turned wanted into wine (see John 2) asked for help drawing water from the well. That request for help did three things. First, it got them started talking. Second, it linked them together on a point of common need – the need for water. Finally, it placed the Samaritan woman in a position where she could be helpful.
Jesus didn’t approach the Samaritan woman as a teacher or a sage or a savior, at least, not at first. He had answers to every spiritual question that the Samaritan woman could ever ask, but that’s not how he started the conversation.
We can follow Jesus’ example, but it’s difficult. We don’t like to be vulnerable, to expose our needs to strangers, or to be the one asking for help. We’d much rather give answers.
But what would happen if we were willing to take intentional steps to receive help from others, help that we really need and help that provides dignity to the helper? What opportunities for spiritual conversation might this open up for us?