As a young woman, rough around the edges and fluidly sharp-witted with my tongue, I remember how I loved seeing how my grandmother, the late Luevenia Bullock would handle herself in the company of people who saw her presence as inferior. Inferior in her sixth-grade education, inferior in her socio-economic status, inferior in the delaying of her marital status in the birth of her children. Yet, in the underlying brevity of the scoffers, I'd watch her meticulously navigate the portals of their superficiality with the poise, confidence, and ease of one who knew with WHOM she was being handled.
In reflecting upon those teaching moments, I'm reminded of the nameless and ageless Samaritan woman at the well with whom Jesus asked: "Will you give me a drink?" (John 4:7). Although she was culturally an outcast, it is the longest recorded one-on-one conversation with the Lord in Scripture. It's high noon and scorching hot when Jesus tired from traveling stops for rest at Jacob's well outside the town of Sychar because His disciples had gone to purchase food. I know you're wondering what is the significance of Jesus speaking with this woman? First of all, Jews weren't supposed to speak to Samaritans; especially a woman outside the presence of her husband or so-called husband. And as a rabbi, he definitely had no business speaking with a woman of her inferior shady caliber.
Over the years I've watched my grandmother be therapeutically seethed upon because of her staunch "as a matter of fact" approach to not allowing others to mishandle the unpolished areas of her life. These life lessons not only left an indelible mark on my heart, but anchored the atrociousness of mishandling another based on spiritual, financial, or social biased emotions. What I love about Jesus is His willingness to embrace the mishandled in love. In other words, He looked beyond her inability to be properly handled, because for so long she was the handler. Like many of us as women, we tend to approach potentially viable relationships or associations from a handler perspective, as opposed to exclaiming our desire to be properly handled - and rightfully so! If we were, to be honest with ourselves, we all can relate to this woman's response to Jesus. Sister-girl goes into survival mode and bucks Jesus. In other words, I'm out here in this scorching sun with my clay jar and she reminds him if "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman, How can you ask me for a drink?" (John 4:9). You see her defensiveness wasn't personally directed towards Jesus, but rather an inward cry outward of "not again"!
I believe the polite-gustiness of her approach was to deaden the blow of the law while not recognizing that Jesus came to bring grace! So He extends a beautiful invitation to her by saying "If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, "Give Me a drink . . ." (John 4:10). In a culture where familiarity absent relationship is the norm, may we no longer find ourselves rejecting the visitation of "The Handler" through earthen vessels whose uniquely unpolished lives do not conform to the ethnic purity of others?