Up to 75% of the population is chronically dehydrated. I see this every single week at the gym.
Without water, not only does exercise performance suffer (up to 30%) — but almost every aspect of you, physiologically, suffers as well. Dehydration can cause symptoms ranging from headaches and fatigue to increased heart rate, trouble focusing, mood swings, constipation, dizziness, and dry skin (stop blaming the climate and lathering up and just drink more H2O). That “I’m thirsty” feeling is actually not a warning signal that you are about to become dehydrated, it’s your body telling you that you are already there.
And get this, dehydration starts with just a 2% loss of your body’s normal water volume. Just 2%!
Physical dehydration hurts. It can even kill you. But, what about spiritual dehydration? How do we handle it when our hearts and souls are thirsty? Are most of us spiritually dehydrated as well?
Candidly, I think so. At least I know I am, a lot of the time. I’m just, downright, thirsty. Not for water. But, for love.
Now before you send my husband mean emails telling him to do better, let me explain that this has nothing to do with him. Although, at one point, I was pretty sure it had everything to do with him. I was wrong.
As I eluded to in my bio, I thought getting married (my dream come true) would quench my thirst. Having a husband around to affirm me all the time would be just what I needed to be in a permanent state of “feeling good about me.” But that wasn’t the case. My dehydration was pretty severe. Everything he tried to pour in would solve a symptom or two for a few minutes, hours or days, but it was as if he was trying to fill my swimming pool of longing with a medicine dropper. No amount of compliments, affirmation, presents, quality time, household chores, physical touch (covering all five love languages) could keep me hydrated. I’d beg him to do it better, or different. I spent most of the first few years of our marriage trying to figure out exactly how HE needed to change in order for our marriage to be better (i.e. me to be happy and fulfilled.) And, I entertained the thought, more times than I care to admit, that just maybe, another man out there might actually know how to make (and keep) me happy.
I hear stories about and see women daily who share my thirst. They turn to television or novels for escape from the pain of longing. They use substances (yes, brownies are a substance) or even “passion for work” to numb their heart’s desire. For some, the thirst gets so severe that they turn to other men in a vain attempt to appease the symptoms of their heart’s drought. But, he makes me feel so… Yeah, I totally get it, I love that feeling. But, I’d safely bet your husband made you feel that way at some point before you married, too.
I grew up in church. I had heard the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, from the Gospel of John, hundreds of times. I thought it was a story about forgiveness. If you don’t know it, the woman at the well was an adulteress. Summarizing the story (and leaving out some meaningful details for purposes of my own illustration…seminarians can insert cringe here), Jesus called her out on her sin, she recognized that he was no regular man, and asked for him to fill her with living water. Yes, there is certainly a component of forgiveness to this story. The happy ending, if you will, is that even though she was a sinner, Jesus forgave her and she got a second chance. But, that’s not all, or (in my opinion) even one of the key things we can learn from this Biblical passage on thirst.
The Samaritan woman was a lot like me. She was looking for something or someone else to quench her thirst. She moved from man to man hoping to find the one who would finally fill that empty vat of longing that was her heart. And, it wasn’t working…until she met a man who not only completely understood her thirst, but wanted to quench it. His name was Jesus.
I’m ashamed that I know the answer and, yet, sometimes refuse to turn to the only person that can cure my dehydration. I’m even more ashamed to admit the ways of my adulterous heart. How many times it wanders and I try to fill it with everything that isn’t Jesus.
Just like our physical bodies start dehydrating at just a 2% loss, guarding against spiritual “water” loss requires us to stay filled. We have to drink in time with God, read His Word, and spend time with others who can encourage us to keep hydrated, regularly. Just like you can’t depend on one little bottle of Evian to get you through a week (or even one of my Spin classes) — you can’t rely on an hour on Sunday to keep your thirst satisfied, and symptoms of dehydration at bay, all week long.
So, what do you think? Are you more thirsty than you care to admit? How do you hydrate?
Jesus answered, “You don’t know what God wants to give you, and you don’t know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would ask me for the water that gives life.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you don’t even have a bucket, and the well is deep. Where are you going to get this life-giving water? Our ancestor Jacob dug this well for us, and his family and animals got water from it. Are you greater than Jacob?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again. But no one who drinks the water I give will ever be thirsty again. The water I give is like a flowing fountain that gives eternal life.”
The woman replied, “Sir, please give me a drink of that water! Then I won’t get thirsty and have to come to this well again.” John 4:10-15 ESV