I think I have been very entertaining to God recently as I have struggled to maintain my peace and dispense grace to the salty people He keeps sending my way.
And I don’t mean saved by grace and living on prayer salt of the faith people.
I also don’t mean cussing like a sailor and having no boundaries type salty people.
I mean “all about me” people.
I mean bossy, no discussion, it is only my way people.
I mean inconsiderate people.
I mean uncompassionate people.
I mean that person who bumps into your sense of good in bad ways.
The exact people Jesus calls us to love – but who are SO HARD to love.
Because they are hurting.
They are broken.
They are damaged.
They have unhealed pain.
They fear rejection.
They are ashamed of their scars.
They won’t allow light into their whole heart.
They refuse to embrace grace and rewrite their story.
Or maybe because they just don’t know any better.
Maybe no one showed them compassion.
Maybe no one loved them and made them feel secure.
Maybe all they have heard is negativity and criticism.
Maybe they told someone about abuse and got ignored or silenced.
Maybe they were forced to suppress their emotions.
Maybe no one believed in them, ever.
The people who most need grace – but who we judge as the least deserving.
Someone like the Samaritan woman in John 4. She was salty. She was distant. She was a loner. Because she had probably been used and discarded by everyone in her life.
Her parents may have sold her at a young age to a man to get her out of the house. He was probably not very caring or compassionate toward her, as he left her and divorced her – a cause of great shame. And then she repeats the same bad man pattern not one or two but five times. Five husbands and five divorces (John 4:18). Five times the hopeful heart was crushed by disappointment. Now she is with guy number six, but they have not bothered to get married (John 4:18).
And if she has lived in this same Samaritan village her whole life, you know how the women treated her. Everyone knew her story, down to the last dirty detail. So no one talked to her. No one made eye contact. No one was coming over to drink coffee and swap recipes. They avoided her house, and they avoided her. They never gave her a friendly smile or wave. They probably clucked their tongues in judgment and rolled their eyes in scorn if they did come anywhere near her. Because she was “dirty”.
And imagine how that kind of daily treatment over the course of her life wounded and scarred her heart! She probably walked through town with her burdened shoulders hunched and her haunted eyes downcast, the chip on her shoulder pushing anyone willing to approach her to a distance.
It is hard to think she could be anything but salty when you think about her life in these ways.
So imagine how she felt to find a man – a Jew, no less – sitting at the town’s well. She purposely went in the heat of the day to avoid the gossipy busybodies. She certainly did not need a man, specifically an “I’m better than you” Jew – pestering her. She already had more than enough trouble – was this guy going to add it to?
Yes He was. He has the audacity to speak to her – and then seemingly to demand “Give Me a drink” (John 4:7).
Now even strangers are treating me like dirt. Why do I bother leaving the house?
But she does not voice any of this. She may have turned her head and rolled her eyes. But she could not afford to offend Him, because He was still a man. She could not win a physical confrontation with Him, and she would not have the protection of the local law.
Yet she is curious to find out what exactly He wants. So she carefully asks Him a valid question – “… How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” (John 4:9).
We both know Jews don’t like Samaritans. We both knew Jews think themselves better than Samaritans. We both know men don’t speak publicly to women. Yet here You are, talking to me. A divorced woman. A scorned woman. A bitter woman. Why are you bothering me?
But He wasn’t there to bother her. He wasn’t there to judge her. He wasn’t there to condemn her.
He was actually there to do the exact opposite things she had come to expect from people. He was there to heal her. He was there to hear her. He was there to help her.
He was there specifically for her and her salty heart to change her life.
He was there to breathe hope and life into her long hopeless and dark heart.
He was there to show her God saw her, knew her, and loved her.
He was there to offer her a new life.
And the salty, isolated woman who once shunned all contact with her fellow villagers suddenly could not wait to tell her fellow townsfolk all about Him. She rushes “into the city, and said to the men, ‘Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?’” (John 4:28-29).
The salty woman lost her saltiness because of the love of her Savior. A man who went out of His way to find her where she was and meet her in the middle of her mess. A man who saw the sullen and downtrodden woman who desperately needed hope. A man who offered her a new life with a new way of thinking. A man who offered her a voice of truth and power (John 4:39).
So who is the salty Samaritan in your life?
Who works your last nerve just by walking into the room?
Who never has anything positive to say?
Who walks with an air of pain and shame about himself/herself?
Who is never wrong, no matter how many opinions disagree?
Who lacks social graces and disrespects personal spaces?
Who do you want to hug back toward wholeness but cannot get close enough because of the wall?
Don’t let his/her saltiness keep you away. Be like Jesus – walk right into the salty mess and offer the amazing grace of the loving Savior that will speak hope and life into all the broken spaces and hurting places.
Marie Fremin. 10/14/18 and 10/21/18