Well, my world, anyway; I think you should try it too
Those two words — from the mouth of God — have been my directive of late.
In September, I visited my best friend in Sarasota. She invited me to join a morning walk with her friend Tina. As we walked, Tina asked me question after question about my life. And I spilled the beans! I think Pamela was shocked at the details I relayed to this person who had been a stranger 30 minutes before. I was.
“Are you a psychologist? A professional counselor?” I asked Tina as we neared the end of our walk.
“No, I just asked questions,” she had replied.
She asked. I answered.
Why not just ask?
Immediately after our walk, I met my niece for breakfast. We talked for nearly two hours — and I decided to “just ask” questions I might not have dared ask an hour before my arrival. Tina had inspired me, and the result was a valuable, transparent conversation with my niece.
Just ask the questions you want to be answered. (Thank you, Tina.)
That evening, I met with my oldest sister’s children and dared ask questions about the events leading to her death. (More on that in a future post.) I plan to ask more.
When I returned home, I decided to reach out to people I don’t know well but who inspire me in some way. So I just asked if they would tell me their stories so I could share them on my blog.
My yoga instructor, who had lost the use of her hands for five years, told me how it happened and how she recovered.
A coach I first met in a step aerobics class — which he did while using crutches — agreed to tell me his story.
A breast cancer survivor in my Bible study who had quietly told us, “I love my scar,” agreed to share hers.
They were eager to tell their stories and felt blessed because I asked them to share them. I was blessed because they entrusted them to me. You were blessed because you read them.
‘Ask’ even if it’s personal
I’ve started to “just ask” for more personal needs, too. The Bible says, “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2-3, NASB). I’ve never been one to ask; I sense God wants me to change, so He’s starting small.
In my hotel room at a conference this past week, my coffee maker (an espresso machine) didn’t work. I repeatedly looked at the instructions and followed them step by step. Add water, push either the “lungo” or “espresso” button to power up the machine, wait for the lights to “settle,” then add a pod, close the machine, push a button, and…
Except the little green lights kept blinking. In a nice, “blink blink blink pause,” “blink blink blink pause” pattern, mind you. So maybe that pattern was “settled”? But following the progressive steps did not result in coffee.
It was 5 a.m. I wanted coffee. I tried again. And again. No lungo.
Just ask, I thought.
So I called the concierge to ask for help. She didn’t know how to work the machine; her colleague didn’t know either. Somewhat reluctantly, she offered to make me a cup on her personal Keurig, if I promised not to tell anyone. (I’m telling you now, but I’m not telling you where I was!) Five minutes later, I was in the lobby, gifted with coffee and real half and half. Score! (The concierge also requested my coffee maker be replaced, and it was. I was able to make my own brew the next day.)
Later that morning, I arrived at the resort swim center to swim laps. Though it was to open at 7, the gate was locked and the pool area was dark and deserted. The employee who arrived seven minutes later had no key. Pooh. The lockbox she could access had no key, either.
“I have to pee,” she said.
I want to swim, I thought.
It was 50 degrees outside and I was wearing sandals and a tissue-thin beach coverup over my swimsuit. The pool promised warmth of 80 to 85 degrees. The conference breakfast ended at 8:30, and I needed to swim, shower, and get to my booth before then. The employee’s bladder and my pressing schedule demanded we enter.
“Can we climb the fence?” I asked.
“Yes!” she responded, almost as if she were waiting for me to ask.
We climbed some stairs, stepped over the fence onto an equipment cabinet, and dropped onto the concrete safely. As I got into the pool, she climbed through the office window to access the bathroom inside.
When I couldn’t manage the back zipper of my dress the next morning, I felt God say, “Just ask.” So I went downstairs and asked the concierge to finish zipping. (I was thankful I got to ask a woman!)
When I arrived at the airport five hours before my flight, I felt the words again. “Just ask.” So I asked if it would be possible to switch to another flight.
“Yes,” the Delta agent told me. I would fly standby on a flight leaving in an hour. I got a seat, but my connecting flight was unchanged. I sensed God say to me, again, “Just ask.”
I get the sense that He is training me to “just ask” Him for help. Part of that is going outside of my comfort zone to ask others. Even at the very moment I’m asking people who might help, I’m asking God for His grace and mercy.
When I arrived in Atlanta, I looked at the departures screen, saw a flight to my destination leaving in an hour, and went to the gate.
“Is it possible to get a seat on this flight?” I asked. It was! I got a seat and returned home four hours sooner than I would have.
Just ask for God’s blessing
My Friend, asking isn’t in my nature. Ask me where I would like to go to dinner, and I’ll say, “Oh, wherever you want to go is fine” or the like. If I do suggest an activity and you then counteract that with a different one, I’ll immediately merge with your idea (unless, of course, you suggest we go to Walmart; then I’ll balk).
I’ve used the pseudonym “Little Red Hen” when providing product reviews because — like the Little Red Hen of storybook fame — I tend to “do it myself,” as she always said. (Except she always asked others to join her first and said, “Then I’ll do it myself” when they said no.) I never ask for help. Or didn’t, anyway.
But now I’m asking. For stories, yes, which has been a blessing for me and for those whose stories I’ve told. And for you, my readers, I hope. But I’m also asking for God’s blessing in my life and more of Him. (Watch for details in a future blog post!)
I experience His blessing when I listen and obey His prompts to “just ask.” I agree: A cup of coffee, permission to climb a fence so I could swim, a zippered dress, an earlier flight home aren’t life-changing “asks.”
But God’s just preparing me for bigger asks. From Him. For you and for me.
I can’t wait to see what happens next.
As I type this, the Fitbit on my wrist buzzes and displays a text message from my next-door neighbor, Janice. Her text reads:
“Good morning, Sara. I am thinking about our friendship this morning as I’m getting dressed for church. Just want to say thank you for being my friend.”
One Saturday morning in late June, I was weeding my yard while Janice and three of her sisters did a workout in her garage. They played music and chatted and laughed. I longed to join them (and not just because I was on my hands and knees weeding).
As they left, Janice saw me and called over an invitation to join them the next week. I did. Now lifting weights to vigorous praise music — and chattering, laughing, celebrating — is part of my Saturday morning routine.
In mid-August, Janice asked me to join a Bible study starting at her house in September. I said yes. What a blessing to have a sister in Christ right next door! A friend! How my life has changed — just because Janice asked.
What do you need today, my Dear Friend? Just ask.
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