At one particular speaking event to a group of elementary-aged girls, I asked the question, “Who here wants to be a princess one day?” Most of them excitedly shot up their hands. What girl doesn’t believe that she can be a princess and marry her prince one day when she’s all grown-up and pretty?
I asked the same question to a group of young women a few months later. The response was very different. I was stared at blankly for a few seconds, after which there was an outbreak of snorts, laughter and muttering, “Is she kidding?” I then asked, “Who here has been failed or disappointed in the area of love and relationships?” The room fell quiet and more than a few hands raised with that one.
I thought about the different responses from my two audiences. The difference had to do with expectations.
A little girl, if protected, is unaware and unscathed from the bitter hurt that so many women “all grown-up and pretty” have felt. She is still pretending to be a good mommy to her dollies, still believing the fairytale stories and still waiting for her wonderful prince. He will be strong and handsome, heroic and valiant. He will be kind and caring and always protect her. He will think she is so beautiful. He will serve her and fight for her, and always put her first. He will be a good provider and extremely dependable. And yes, he of course will be faithful and only ever want her. He will so love her and show it not just with words, but with his very life.
Now grow that little girl up. Put her in a world full of those who want her only for what she does for them; take from her what is precious and make it vile; promise to be the fulfillment of her dream and become her nightmare. Where is the man she once envisioned? Her “prince” has morphed into a belching frog – but only after stealing her kiss.
After such a rude awakening do you think she still believes there is such a thing as princesses and prince charmings? Pieces of her body and heart are scattered everywhere from her junior high school to her college campus. She feels vulnerable and empty. She decides she will never allow herself to get hurt again. In an effort to protect herself from being used and disappointed she allows walls of bitterness, anger and cynicism to arise. She becomes her own protector, not believing that there is a guy out there who is all she once naively hoped for, but willing to settle for one she can use just as well as he can use her. She can play the game too.
So, she ends up with some guy who has been just as slammed by the world as she has. They don’t share much outside of their own sin and misery. When her friends and family warn her about him and say, “You can do so much better!” she would like to agree with them, but believes she is getting what she deserves. She’s just as dependent upon him for what she wants as he is upon her.. She doesn’t want to be alone. She needs someone. Anyone will do who will fill the aching void in her soul – he doesn’t have to be her dream come true. The strong, heroic, dashing prince she dreamed of as a girl doesn’t exist anyway. Yet amazingly, this same girl, somewhere deep inside, continues to long for that special one. All her childhood desires for love and acceptance remain.
The woman at the well in John chapter 4 could very well be the one I just described. You would think this woman after four husbands would have been done with men and relationships. But she wasn’t. She was on man number five. Jesus saw a thirst that had never been quenched by any Prince Charming, and never could be. He knew that He was the water she needed to quench the thirst within her soul. What men could not give her, He alone could. “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14)
God put within every person a thirst. A thirst to find happiness and satisfaction in this present life. A thirst to love someone and be loved in return. A thirst to be recognized and valued. These “thirsts” are not wrong! We are made in God’s image. If He wants to be loved, recognized, and valued, then those made in His image must want those things too. But there was a very special reason God put within us this thirst: so He could be the One to quench and satisfy.
Creation cannot satisfy creation. You need the Creator of the universe to tell you, “You are beloved, you are loved, you are accepted.” Not because of what you do to gain it, but because He says so! When you have that, your expectations for that “perfect one” will be met. Nobody will be able to replace or come even close to Him! Not even a true earthly prince charming. You see, even if you’re not the girl who’s been burned and settled for a frog, even if you’ve found the prince who is all that he should be, the “perfect guy” that you hoped, prayed, dreamed, and waited for – he will never be enough. No matter how much he gives to you, it will never be enough to satisfy and fulfill what your soul needs. You will continue to be the woman at the well who keeps going back for more. The eyes of man are never full, the ears never hear the words, “I love you,” “You’re perfect,” or “You’re beautiful” enough to satisfy the thirst within the soul. Our appetite is too big for what any human being can supply.
Maybe you’re still waiting for your prince. You’ve kept yourself from the frog in disguise. You’ve held out, believing that good things come for those who wait. You’ve not settled. I want to encourage you to keep persevering, keep being faithful even when your faith has not yet been made sight. God sees your faithfulness, even when others don’t. He will give you the desires of your heart! But I also want to caution you: if you are holding out, waiting for happiness to begin the moment you meet him – you too will be disappointed. Though he may not be the repulsive frog, he will still be human. And even the best of humankind cannot be what God was meant to be for you! Get ready for disappointment when you drink from a well that is not the one, true fountain of living waters. Get ready for dreams to come true when Jesus is your portion in life! He will exceed all your expectations.
“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)