If You Ask Me

I think most people like others to come to them for answers.  When we’re asked to help someone, there’s an inner glow at knowing the person trusts us with a piece of their life.  I know I enjoy it when someone asks questions of me (even if the questions are about my sanity) because the message to me is that the person thinks I might have some knowledge or credibility about a subject (as it happens, I’m a near-expert on insanity.)

That being noted, I’ve had a life-long issue with asking for help or favors.  I guess I don’t want to seem weak or incompetent, but mostly, I don’t want to impose on others’ time.  None of this makes sense, because I don’t view others’ requests of me as impositions and I certainly don’t find them weak incompetent.  Double-standards live on.

An unintended benefit of my Cub Scout den leadership is that I have to ask for help.  (Notice I used ‘benefit’ instead of ‘side-effect’.  Side effects are the nausea, dizziness, headaches, cramping, seizures, blurred vision and possible death after taking some prescription medications.   Forcing me to ask for help is a good thing.)

In the last few weeks, I’ve made several requests; some met with immediate support, others not so much.

Sometimes we need a hand...

One parent readily took on the task of planning our holiday gift project in which the boys will each make 2 gifts to take to a nursing home visit in December.  A second request took a little more persistence before the parent not-so-willingly “volunteered” to be a backup website administrator for the Cub Scout Pack website.  The response: “if it will get you off my back for the other things, I’ll do it.”  Good enough. My work was done.

Feeling more competent at this asking for help thing, I emailed the Vice Mayor of our city to request some time for her to meet with the boys to discuss her job.  I expected a brush off, so was quite pleased when two days later, the Vice Mayor’s assistant called to discuss dates and times.  Next week, I will have the boys think of questions they would like to ask.

I’m not getting cocky with my newfound ability to ask for things.  I am aware that one day, the answer will be “no” but I’m enjoying my ride on the “yes” train.  I know that within the next two weeks, I will need to approach local businesses for support of the boys’ service project they have to plan and carry out.  But I won’t be alone.  There will be five neatly-dressed scouts and their parents prepared to do an equal share of begging asking.

Do you mind being asked for help?  What about asking for help? 

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:2

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20 thoughts on “If You Ask Me

  1. Carl D'Agostino October 30, 2011 / 3:33 AM

    As part of a particular 12-Step program get asked for help frequently. Must freely give what was freely given to me. On a lighter side, today will help granddaughter with a big poster-magic marker-ruler-cut out things-for school-wanna win 1st place project. Now that’s the most delightful helping , wouldn’t you agree? Shucks, 50 years ago I was known as Mr. Crayons. Last year we took 3rd place in the African American Heritage poster contest. Not 3rd in the class, baby. Third in all grades 1 – 5 ! Bring it on.

    • jannatwrites October 30, 2011 / 6:37 PM

      That is a good kind of helping, Mr. Crayons 🙂 Third place isn’t a bad place to be, that’s for sure! Hope she gets first this year.

  2. nrhatch October 30, 2011 / 7:43 AM

    Good for you. The number one reason people do not volunteer more is because they weren’t asked to help.

    As for me, it depends what the request is . . .

    Since living here I’ve been asked to join churches, the AAUW, and the league of women voters. None of these things appealed to me, so I said, “Thanks for asking, but I’m not interested.”

    Some people kept pushing. They refused to take NO for an answer . . . saying things like, “You’ll LOVE our church” or “We could really USE you.”

    I remain polite for only so long before I say, “What part of NO did you not understand?”

    If someone says NO, ask someone else. 😀

    • jannatwrites October 30, 2011 / 6:44 PM

      The kind of persistence you describe is exactly how I ended up “volunteering” in the infant daycare at my last church. I finally left that church and went somewhere else where I’m not hounded to serve somewhere that doesn’t suit my talents. (I’m not one of those people who goes nuts over babies. I know that sounds bad!)

      The problem with the scouting stuff is that not enough people are saying yes, so they have to keep asking.

      Thanks for sharing your views on volunteering, Nancy.

  3. pattyabr October 30, 2011 / 7:52 AM

    I was just having a philosophical and spiritual discussion about this with my spouse this morning. I know of four women, all nurses, who have suffered from chronic illnesses and became emotionally crippled. They were the caregivers and now they don’t know how to care for themselves. Independent women viewed as strong and competent who have been leveled. The key here is their support systems. Other than work colleagues I think it was pretty sparse. No one is an island we all need each other.

    In your situation, I can relate. EVERYONE is busy. Work, home, kids, school, family – all these stressors get to everyone. My husband and I were crazy busy raising our kids. My husband coached many a baseball & basketball teams for our kids. We also organized a booster club and got railroaded out of office by a bitter group of women. It was like having a second job and got nothing but grief from the parents. But one project that I was in charge of that went well was a prayer line and a support line. The support line had a list of volunteers who signed up and were willing to be called for a casserole, dessert etc if a parent at the school had surgery, death in the family. We also sent cards. People who were on the list knew they would be called to help out. The majority of the people were great and some people said they were busy catch them next time.

    We all need each other – we need to continue to foster that as humans in this world no matter where we are. Continued good wishes as Cub Scout leader.

    • jannatwrites October 30, 2011 / 6:53 PM

      I agree that a support system is necessary to keep our sanity. Too often, we think we can manage. Maybe we can, but we shouldn’t. (Yes, I’m still working on that one.)

      I’ve done the support line before. I only got called on a couple times, but it was fun. Lickily, the group of scout parents are basically good. I know they are already busy and I hate to ask for more, but have no choice when some duties aren’t getting done.

      Thanks for your well-wishes, Patty. Sometimes I think I just might make it through the year 🙂 I’m glad you joined the discussion!

  4. 1959duke October 30, 2011 / 7:53 AM

    I know back in 1993 when I hurt my back I had to swallow my pride and realize that there are times I have to ask for help. One of the inetersting things about offering to volunteer is often they ask people to do things are are so trivial that its sort of an insult to them.

    • jannatwrites October 30, 2011 / 6:55 PM

      Good point, Duke. If you’ve got 20 years of counseling experience and volunteer at a crisis center, it would be offensive to be asked to shred papers for your two hour shift.

      It is hard to ask for help, and it’s something I keep working on. Glad you stopped by today, Duke!

  5. Debbie October 30, 2011 / 8:21 AM

    Janna, I’m so proud of you! It’s a sign of maturity when we know we need to ask another for help. I never used to do it, thinking that if it was something I couldn’t d by myself, it was something that didn’t need being done. As I’ve grown up, I realized that Jesus wasn’t kidding when He told us to “Ask and it shall be given you.” And yes, it’s quite flattering when someone comes to me and genuinely asks for my help!

    • jannatwrites October 30, 2011 / 6:59 PM

      I’m not cured, Debbie, but I am working on asking for (and accepting) help.

      The most difficult for me is when I need help with the kids. My parents already raised their kids, so I hate to ask them for too many kid-sitting favors. I only call on them when I have no other options.

  6. cuhome October 30, 2011 / 8:29 AM

    You’re right! Whenever someone asks me for advice/help, it IS a compliment, and I never consider it an imposition, and I never think, “What an idiot” ~~ in fact, I am complimented that they would think I would know the answer !!! (I usually don’t have much to add, just ask them what they’ve thought of themselves, and they usually come up with the answer for themselves ~~ then they say, “Thanks!”) Huh? I didn’t do anything but listen! Anyway, I hear you. Sounds like you’re doing a fantastic job in your Cub leadership!!!

    • jannatwrites October 30, 2011 / 7:11 PM

      That’s the best kind of help – when the asker figures out the answer just by talking it through. I’m glad I’m not the only who takes a request for help as a compliment. It’s so much easier to give (help) than to receive 🙂

      I appreciate the support on the scout leadership, Cuhome. I survive that one week by week!

  7. Widdershins October 30, 2011 / 4:28 PM

    I thought your list of side-effects was related to asking for help, until I got to the end of the sentence!

    • jannatwrites October 30, 2011 / 7:00 PM

      Widdershins, if that were the case, I don’t think I’d ask for help ever 🙂

  8. pattisj October 30, 2011 / 7:40 PM

    I don’t mind being asked, glad to help out when I can. It is harder to ask than be asked.

    • jannatwrites October 30, 2011 / 7:46 PM

      I agree, Patti. I’ll do whatever I can to help someone out (I usually have to offer or insist, because it seems other don’t like to ask for help either :))

  9. Epizeuxis November 4, 2011 / 8:33 AM

    Great Post Janna.I too have this same problem in asking for help.Some kind of ego clash.But when others ask me for it,I am all yay. 🙂
    Btw…you are doing a good job with the scouts volunteering and all.

    • jannatwrites November 5, 2011 / 8:43 AM

      Glad I’m not alone with this oddity, Epizeuxis! I have to remind myself often that asking for help is not a weakness 🙂

  10. SAS Fiction Girl November 14, 2011 / 4:25 PM

    I’m better at asking for help for others, than for myself. Maybe because rejection in the former won’t feel as personal as rejection in the latter.

    • jannatwrites November 14, 2011 / 10:15 PM

      There is some safety in asking for help for others, but it’s such a nice feeling when someone we love gives us a hand when we really need it.

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