Savoring the Bittersweet

How is a parent supposed to feel watching their child ride a bike, unassisted, for the first time? The child, who used to be dependent on the parent for balance and support, can now ride on their own. How should the parent feel? Triumphant? Sad?

I think it’s appropriate for the parent to feel a whole range of emotions, concurrently. They can be proud that their child is able to ride alone, excited to see what the child will learn next, happy that they helped the child develop to this point, and sad that they are no longer needed by the child in this way.

I wonder how the “woman at the well” felt when she heard these words from those whom she had brought to Jesus: “We no longer believe because of what you said, since we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world”” (John 4:41‭-‬42 CSB).

You may remember that Jesus met this woman while on a journey through Samaria. They talked and she came to believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Leaving her jar at the well, she ran to town and invited the townspeople to, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did” (4:29a). They followed her to the well, met Jesus, listened to him, and invited him to stay with them for a while. Over the course of the next two days, they, too, were convinced that Jesus really was “the Savior of the world.” Turning to the woman who introduced them to Jesus, they told her, “we no longer believe because of what you said, since we have heard for ourselves…” How should she have felt about this?

I think it would have been appropriate for her to have felt a whole range of emotions, concurrently. She could have been happy to know that they had believed in Jesus, excited to see what they will do as they grow in their faith, happy that she was instrumental in bringing them to Jesus, and sad that they no longer needed her to serve them in this way.

Do you find yourself in a season where your roles are changing? I’d like to encourage you to try to learn to savor the bittersweet; to rejoice in the sweet, persevere through the bitter, and allow the Lord to show you what to do next.

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