8/18/08

Are You Embarrassed to Share Your Needs?

For the timid person, are you embarrassed to share your needs with others? Or do you feel like you can be honest with others, regarding your struggles in life?

I’m usually writing to the reluctant entertainer (although many posts are for the seasoned hostess as well), but this time I’m writing to the person who would like to be invited over to someone’s house. Who might want to feel what it’s like on the other side- to be the guest!

I know there are hurting people out there. I know, because I was recently in the grocery store, and when I walked back to my car, this note was on my windshield!

Sandy, Love your 4 Reluctant Entertainer site! Saw you in the store, but you didn't recognize me ...so I kept walking. Going through a separation (26 years of marriage!) was too embarrassed to stop you. God Bless you.

My daughter’s and my eyes met as we read this note together. I do recall walking by a person that looked familiar, but I couldn’t place her. When we got into the car, and it was the perfect opportunity to talk to my 11-year old about people’s hurts. She could feel what I was trying to explain, and she said, “Mom, why didn’t the lady stop to talk? Why was she embarrassed?”

We talked about how when others go through hard times, it can be embarrassing. I so wish this woman would have stopped me. Because after reading her note, my heart went out to her. Even now, I continue to think of her as I keep this note on my desk.

Then my daughter and I said a quick prayer together. We prayed for this lady and for her marriage and for her life. And that she wouldn’t be embarrassed the next time someone could be reaching out to her.

It was an Ah-Ha moment for both of us.

I love how we can all be used. And how we can take a hospitable spirit with us anywhere … even to the grocery store.

How about you? Do you ever feel too embarrassed to share your needs? We women can be so insecure when it comes to approaching others, whether it's inviting people over for a meal or approaching someone in the grocery store.

I sometimes wonder how can we make ourselves more available to others?

31 comments:

Apron Thrift Girl said...

My shyness stops me from reaching out. But you would be proud of me this morning. I emailed my friend whose birthday it is, and invited her over for brunch with only two hours notice. For both of us. I cooked, she came with her two children and we celebrated her birthday together. While the meal ate into my day and work time, the effort to reach out was more than worth it. I don't know if I would have done so a year ago.

Nancy said...

When I'm going through a hard time I either don't share at all or I overshare. I feel like if I open my mouth to say anything, it's all going to come out and I'll be embarassed because I've made the other person uncomfortable.

Jen said...

You are so right...a girl approached me in my MOPS group and said she wanted to be more like me....it makes me feel good....you are a great inspiration to me Sandy....

Anna said...

YES...There are times when I am embarrassed to share my needs.
Is it pride? I like to think not, I just do not want to impose my needs on someone else.
There have been times when I rode the bus to work, because I could not afford the car insurance. There were times I fed my sons canned vegetables and boxed mac'n cheese, because I could not afford meat or fresh vegetables. There were times when I asked the farmers if I could glean the fields, so we could have something fresh.
Even when I gleaned the fields, rode the bus or fed my poor kids canned vegetables/boxed mac'n cheese, I COULD NOT ask for help. Never. Why? Because I was afraid I was failing my children, and if I asked for help, everyone would know I was failing my children.

Tara said...

This is a great post. I've closed myself off to sharing because I've had so many hurtful experiences. Just recently I tried again: A former coworker emailed me and asked how I was doing. I told her briefly about work and life and mentioned how I was looking forward to an upcoming surgery and the possibility of being pain free for the first time in years. I am usually very guarded about sharing this information, but I was feeling anxious that day and could have used some support. In return I got a long reply about how she is selling her house and moving -- not even a recognition of what I had said.
Three years ago when both my mom and dad were having major surgeries and I was very stressed, I told my friends and invited them to come over and have a girls night with me to de-stress and have fun. Everyone canceled.
Experiences like this just make me want to give up... I'm better off taking care of myself, I think!
On a happier note: I wanted to tell you that I was recently inspired by your blog. My daughter and I picked up dinner for another family we know who is going through a hard time financially. We bought an herbed roasted organic chicken, spicy sweet potatoes, mixed greens salad, lemonade and pie and took it to them as a "random act of kindness." They were so touched. And seeing that they had no dinner plans and were eating Cheetos when we delivered the food made the timing perfect. It made us all feel good.

Buzzings of a Queen Bee! said...

That's a good point...I think that people who are good at entertaining have a hard time reaching out and accepting help when they need it. I know that is true for me. Sometimes we focus on being a good hostess so much that we become unable to accept the grace that other people want to give us!
-Carrie

Anonymous said...

I am currently in need of lots of help. I am usually the one giving out the help. Rarely do I ask for help for myself. I think because I am usually the giver, people don't expect me to have needs as well. Just yesterday I finally got up the courage to ask someone to help me with something.
Oh, I am so humiliated. It took forever to gather my courage and to find someone I felt I wouldn't be imposing on or someone I felt comfortable with.
Do you know what she said? She said, "Why are you asking me? You need to ask someone who lives closer to you, and who isn't so busy." She, then, gave a suggestion of who to ask.
I only live 20 miles from the person I asked and her suggested person is almost a stranger to me!
It is way too many experiences similar to this that have stopped me cold from asking for help...and believe me I have to be REALLY desperate to even get to the point of asking. On the plus side, it has taught me to do whatever I can to be helpful to others...without them asking.
Please encourage your readers to OFFER specific help to others before someone must ask. Example, I once called a woman who was nine months pregnant with a house full of little ones. I gave her three options to choose one from: did she want me to come and scrub her bath and shower, wash her floors, or run a few errands for her, or something else? Notice I didn't give her the option of telling me she didn't need help. She said she was embarrassed to admit that she hadn't been able to scrub her tub for a month or to even admit she really needed help, but since I wanted to help her she would allow me to. She was very appreciative.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I get e-mails all the time with people thanking me for being so honest about what we have gone through (on my blog).

However, that is the reason I started blogging two years ago in the first place. I wanted people to know that there are times we all go through some difficulty or the other and that God walks with us.

So many times in the Church, people hide behind a mask because they believe it is a bad thing to be going through serious trials. They don't know that everyone has something in their life from time to time.

I'm always hoping that having walked the path already, I can encourage others who are going through difficult times.

a day in the life of bella said...

Very much so. I know I am partly to blame though...when things are not going well, I shut myself out to others. I am actually finding that blogging is helping to break me out of this funk I've been in...but yes, I can relate to this situation...I could even see me writing a note the way that she did...if she is reading my post, I hope she will email me :)

Take good care All,
Bella :)

Kristen Andrews said...

I think as women very often we but others needs ahead of ours, especially our kiddos. Great post!

Linda Lou said...

When my daughter was diagnosed with leukemia people came out of the woodwork and helped in so many ways, and it was hard to accept all of the love and acts of kindness because I thought how will I ever be able to pay them back. Looking back now I realize you pay it forward to different people in different circumstances. A friend of mine had knee surgery this year and although we weren't that close I said can I drive you to physical therapy, i am bringing dinner over, here are some yummy baked goods!! But sometimes it is hard to bare your true needs to people, afraid they will turn the other way...But you gotta try.

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

What a great post! I do like to hear about other people's needs and help out when I can, but I don't think I would be very quick to share my own.

I prefer to deal with any trials in a fairly private way and don't like to impose on others. Though I did recently accept help from a friend when we had to fly out-of-state for a funeral - she offered to take care of our dog so we didn't have to put him in a kennel.

sarah @ a beach cottage said...

Hi Sandy

very insightful posting and I've read the comments with interest. You know I don't think I am embarrassed to share my needs, I just don't want help. Period. I pondered why this was and it's because if I let anyone near enough to help then they'd have to get close to see the real bits, the imperfect bits??? (not that I think I am perfect, couldn't be farther fromt he truth) I don't know if that's the reason, but it pretty much goes hand-in-hand with my reluctancy in entertaining I think...you know, not letting people in so they can't see the real me...

I have a friend who is in the same situation with her 3 kids that I was in a few years ago - an 8, 6 and nearly 2 yrs old and she's struggling, but will not accept my offers of help (just like I wouldn't have done), hmmmm I'll have to have a real good think about what I could do that would help that she would readily accept...maybe someone reading these comments might have some ideas for me?

I hope you will bump into that lady again one day, you never know, oh and at least she will know you do care by reading your blog

Sarah

Maere said...

I was just talking my DH about this (yes, at 1 am). I've been struggling with this. If I am afraid to show others my need, it's because I'm afraid I'll let them know and they'll just go "Gee, really?" and that will be that.

Honestly, that's how it's felt for the past couple of years in our new home. I've been told "Well, I told you once (when you were very new) to call if you wanted to get together..."

Ummm...as the new person,
1) I don't know who everyone is yet, so remembering who said "call me" and being able to actually do it is a stretch.

2) I'm the new one. I could/would respond to a genuine invitation "Are you free on Friday night?" but when you put all the responsibility on me, I don't know if you really mean it or if you're just being 'polite.' (And when a year goes by and you've never made any more effort than a passing comment type invitation I don't tend to believe you actually want me to come).

3) When I know you know that there's a need (I have no kitchen for 4 months) but there is no offer, even a "hey, we're all going out, want to come?" it's hard to want to put myself out there to express a need and be left high and dry again. (Not that I expected an invitation, but it's hard to hear later that I'm not making enough effort. Sorry, I'm not good at inviting myself; it's something my parents ingrained in me when I was a kid and I still pretty much live by it.)

Honestly, sometimes it hurts less to assume that the need isn't being met because no one knows than it is to realize that they do know but must not care.

Even now, I'm using an alternate account in case anyone from my world happen across this.

I appreciate your heart and the lesson you are teaching your daughter about having a heart that sees the needs and looks for a way to meet them/minister to the person who needs it.

see you there! said...

In general I'm a better listener than a "teller". People seem to really open up to me and I like that. I'm lucky to have a good support network so if I do have a need I am comfortable asking for help from someone within that circle.

Sad that the woman couldn't have stopped you to say hello even if she didn't want to share her circumstances.

Darla

mrsjones6 said...

It is often very difficult to share. Unfortunately we live in a time where so many hurt that we are afraid to share our own problems. This may be due to the idea that our problems don't matter b/c they are not as bad as someone else's, the selfish attitudes that surround us or the "I don't care" attitudes.
It has been a tough summer for me as we moved. It was to a location where we have lived before, but things change in two or three years and it is really difficult to handle sometimes. I have tried to cover by having friends over but I always feel empty when they leave.
I am glad you and your daughter had that moment to share.
I have tried to teach my children to be aware of others in need....not just what they see on the outside, but the hurt that is often felt on the inside. Maybe we all need to share a little more.
~JEN

Org Junkie said...

To tell you the truth I never ask for help, never ever ever. I'm just not up for being disappointed by my friends. They really let me down on my birthday this year and that hurt is enough to last me the whole year through. Sad but true.

Myrna said...

Isolation is a great tool of Satan's. Power is in the connectedness of God's people. It is difficult to let our needs be known--but if you've known the joy of being a true help---then you know that to hide your needs, is to deny others an opportunity to experience that same joy of service--and that is sort of selfish don't you think? They say "it is more blessed to give than receive", but allowing the giving is a way of bestowing a benediction---letting someone know the blessing of service. I want to encourage (instill courage) myself and the readers to open up a bit, both to giving and receiving, and realize that it is the Lord who meets needs, often through people, but sometimes by other means. Watch and see---and don't forget to practice thanksgiving!
Great post and dialog Sandy

Christy said...

You are are so right that we can all be used, God DOES want to use us. People matter so much to Him and we should and need to be the hands and feet of Christ. Sometimes that may mean serving and other times it may mean offering a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. The times we live in are filled with SO much busyness that we neglect the hurting hearts around us. Sometimes I think we are afraid of allowing God to use us.

I've learned that when I am honest, vulnerable, and show the real me, it encourages others to do the same. I got really, really tired of trying to be what others expected me to be or what I was expecting myself to be.

Thanks for such a great and practical reminder to be sensitive and available to those around me.

Sabrina said...

Thank you Sandy for sharing your experience. I also agree with Myrna. I am convicted of not being open to hear people and then wonder why no one lets me know when they need help. Thanks again for being open and sharing.

Susie said...

Wow, what an important post you shared today! I am trying to keep my eyes open for those in need that may be intimidated to ask.

Sandy said...

Thank you ladies, for so many heartfelt comments and your honesty. I also agree with Myrna (and many of your comments!) that we need to encourage one another (encourage means to instil courage!), in ways of giving and receiving. And then to practice thanksgiving.

Thank you again for hearing my heart in this post.

Elizabeth G. said...

Yes, that type of need I'm pretty good at hiding.

Thank you for this post. I hope and pray to be more sensitive to the needs of those around me.

Elizabeth

Bev said...

I love what Nancy said - there's a great quote by George Eliot (who was actually a woman using a pseudonym to write). She said that when youre with a true friend, you can pour it all out, and she will gently spread her fingers of friendship, letting the chaff sift through and she'll hold onto the wheat. There's nothing as wonderful as a long cup of coffee with someone who will do just that.

Shelly G and Hope P said...

This post brought tears to my eyes... thinking about someone feeling so bad that they would walk on by... Pain & sadness is so crippling... I remember being sick and not wanting someone to see that my house had gotten messy... Even though they wanted desperately to help me... Why is it always so much easier to help then to be helped?

Deborah said...

Well, I'm not sure if this is 100% relevant to the kind of situation you are talking about, but yes - I do have a hard time. I'm pregnant for the first time. I'm usually so independent. I was moving some boxes at work yesterday, and I knew that I should just ask for help, but that is not easy for me. When I was done, my body told me that I shouldn't have been doing that myself. I know that I'd have tons of help if I'd just ask, but I've never been one to ask for help. I even feel bad asking my husband to help me do things I can't do as easily anymore. I know I'm going to have to get over this as I get further along, but it's hard. I think that it is hard for most people to share their shortcomings.

bizzy mommy said...

wonderful writing ! so important for many of us!

TRS said...

Hmmm. I'm trying to understand where I fit here.

I am a bit shy about expressing my needs... however - after a surprising loss of my car (it was totaled in a heavy rainstorm - such a freak thing!) I finally found another car - but then had to juggle the logistics of returning my rental car... and getting the 'newish' car home.
I called a few friends who were unable to help - then remembered another friend who works near the location I had to leave the other car. She returned my call - offered to pick me up on her way to work even though it was out of the way... and she did so cheerfully!

I am more apt to offer my services than to ask for help.
Although, if it's offered I do tend to accept it.
When I started traveling for work, another friend came over to visit while I was packing. Seeing I was a bit stressed she asked what she could do to help. If you're serious, I said, I would LOVE it if you would wash the dishes in the sink.
One of the nicest things anyone ever did for me!

On the flip side... I offer help.

Two of my friends are VERY pregnant right now, one of them will deliver this week! I told them both that since it looks like I STILL won't have a job once their babies come... that if they ever feel overwhelmed... need to take a shower or a nap or just adult conversation... give me a call. God must have me available with all this free time for a reason!

:..Rebekah..: said...

Wonderful post. Thank you.

G. said...

Yes. I do often feel embarraed to share my needs. As a SAHM, I often feel lonely...and I know alot of other mom's out there probably feel the same way but, are often embarassed or afraid to ask for someone to just keep them company. I agree that we should encourage one another and I've found that reaching out to someone else in our own time of need can be a blessing to us as well. :)

Mary said...

When I was younger I used to be afraid to share my needs because I was very concerned about appearances but then I got married and it was my husband - who is much younger than me but also much wiser - who taught me that people should never be worried about what others think because your true friends will want to reach out to you and help you.

Thank you for sharing your very touching story.

Love and God Bless,

Mary