I was able to learn an important lesson from a nine-year-old this weekend.
I've heard “if you don't ask the answer is always no” and I've even shared that with other people. But there are still those things that we're taught when we're young that stick with us, things like:
Don't be rude.
Don't invite yourself.
Don't ask somebody for presents.
Don't bother them.
This weekend I was able to get together with some dear friends. One of them happens to be 9 years old and is the grandson of a friend. When I was leaving, I asked one of my adult friends if there was anything she wanted me to bring her on my way back to Indiana from Kentucky next time. And my young friend spoke up and said: “I want you to bring me a souvenir”.
If I’m honest, my first thought was, “Well, I don't mind but you're not supposed to ask for things.”
How would I have known that he wanted a souvenir if he didn't ask me?
What's the worst that could happen? I could say no. And there would be no souvenir. But if he didn't ask it was guaranteed that there would be no souvenir.
That made me think of how often I have done that in my own life, which brings me to another example from this weekend.
I was home for 48 hours and during my time home I try to do some of the things that my husband and boys don't do while I'm gone, as well as some of the things that my youngest son does when I'm not there in order to give him a break.
This particular weekend, I had a jam-packed schedule. I had come home right after working a 12-hour overnight shift, so I was already tired and needed to take a nap.
Then we had some family time together and went out to eat which was wonderful. Then my husband and I ran some errands. We got home late-ish for us and I got up the next morning went to breakfast with a friend, went to the eye doctor, went to the office (aka Panera) to listen to a training, ran a couple more errands, came and put the groceries away, then went for a massage and chiropractor appointment. And those things may sound relaxing, but honestly, they weren't for the most part because I had waited too long to go and it was actually a very uncomfortable experience. I know that it will pay off in the long run, but at the moment, it was not a lot of fun.
Then I went home and by this time it was about 4 pm and I was just spending time with my family for a bit. Then I was able to go and see my friend who had just gotten in from out of town and I hung out with some friends there for a few hours and it was wonderful. After that, I went home and started taking all of the Christmas decorations down because my family had wanted them left up on my previous trip home, but at this point, it was time to be done.
And in doing that and getting ready to come back the next day, I ended up going to bed at about 2 am.
When I woke up it was time to shower and finish getting ready so that I could leave to come back to Kentucky right after we went out to lunch because I had to work on Saturday night.
Everything went well overall. But I was tired and I was a little grouchy (part of which I'm blaming on hormones) but in reality, my husband did not help as much as I would have liked for him to have helped.
And it seemed that every time I was about done with something, he would say “what can I do to help you?” But by then I was mad and I would just say “nothing, I've got it”. Now I know that some people have spouses or kids that genuinely won't help, but I'm really not one of those people.
But you know, sometimes I don't want to have to explain everything step by step. I feel like things are obvious, and they should just do them.
However, that's not fair because I know that they aren't really wired that way.
What do you allow yourself to become frustrated with because you don't want to ask?
But the reality is, people aren't mind readers and sometimes they are more than willing to help, but they just don't know your needs or they don't want to intrude. This is something that I am very guilty of myself. There are times when I want to help someone or be available, but I don't want to be pushy. So I'm not as helpful as I could be.
You see, sometimes people want to feel needed. It can be very flattering when someone asks for your help or assistance or expertise with something.
Even in the Bible, we are told to ask.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7 ESV
Is that because God doesn't know what we want? Of course not. But there is something about asking, about putting it into words, that makes us more clear on what we want or need. And reminds us that we aren't meant to do everything on our own. And that can be very humbling.
What would you ask for if you knew the answer was yes?
or look looking at it a different way,
What are you potentially losing out on by not asking for it?
Back to my little friend, he didn’t want anything in particular, just a souvenir. And maybe that little souvenir will remind him that I thought of him and that he is loved, and that when he asks, people care.
Or maybe it will just be a little trinket that he doesn’t even care about, but the fact that he asked gave me a gift that I wasn’t expecting at all. I know that I can meet his need easily, and that helps to meet my own need to help others.
I hope that next time I have the chance to ask for help, I do it. That I put aside my pride and stubbornness and just ask. And I hope that you do too.