October 29, 2020No Comments

7 Small Ways to Practice Asking for Help

I heard a story recently about an older woman who lived alone. She fell in the middle of the night and couldn’t get up. Instead of calling for help immediately, she waited for hours until she knew people would be awake. “She said that she didn’t want to bother anybody,” the story-teller said, shaking his head. 

Looking at it from the outside, it’s easy to think that is ridiculous. Surely anybody, not least of which the EMTs, would have been happy to come help. But as I sat and thought about it, I realized I understood. 

I thought about the time I drove myself to the hospital at 3 am with severe abdominal pain from an ovarian cyst. I thought about the time I moved my giant, temperamental dresser by myself. Sure, there are certain things I can do myself and things I genuinely want to learn how to do, hang a shelf using a toggle bolt for example. But there are also situations in which asking for help is the most reasonable thing we can do. 

It’s hard, though. To ask for help is to admit we need it, to let people peek behind the curtain of our self-sufficiency. It can feel like an intrusion, a bother, and it’s not fun to have to rely on others who might (let’s be real) not come through. 

I’ve found it helpful to give myself small opportunities to practice asking for help. As with anything, laying a foundation when things are semi-fine sets us up well for when things are very not fine. Not only that, but it has the potential to deepen trust between you and your friends.

To practice this in small ways, you can ask a friend to...

Hang onto your spare keys. 

You probably have a friend who is responsible enough to put your keys in a safe place in case you ever lock yourself out of your apartment. If this feels weird, you could offer to hang onto theirs as well. A bit of mutually assured destruction can go a long way. Or you could call it a mutually beneficial arrangement, depending on how you see the proverbial glass.  

Help you figure out how to hang a shelf, etc.

Choose a household activity that neither of you knows how to do and learn how to do it together. Whether it’s putting together an Ikea bookshelf or changing a tire, invite someone over, watch a YouTube video and get to work. You can always call in an expert if things go totally off the rails. 

Show you how to make [insert baking trend you saw on their Insta].

Odds are that you have a friend who learned to make babka or sourdough during quarantine. Invite them over and ask them to show you their expert secrets. This also gives you someone to share the delicious treat with, because the quarantine fifteen is real. 

Use their washer/dryer while you watch their kids.  

Ok, maybe this isn’t the best trade-off. I rarely babysit, but they presumably nap at some point or have homework or something during which you could do your laundry. Mayhaps you live in an apartment that has a washer and dryer in unit and you don’t have to pay $5 in quarters to use the triple loader. It doesn’t have to be laundry, it could be their dope kitchen or piano or spare room. That might feel like a big ask, hence the trade-off of watching the children.  

Pick up something you forgot at the store. 

I don’t think I’ve ever gone to the store and actually made it out with everything I need. Even if I use a list. Chances are you have a friend going to the store in the near future who would be willing to snag that thing for you. And because Venmo is a thing, it’s really just a matter of picking that thing up and hitting a button to reimburse them. 

Give you a hug. 

If you’re like me, this whole isolation thing that’s been going on for the past seven months has meant some serious touch depravity. I’m not even a hugger, going ten weeks straight without touching another person is enough to mess anyone up. Be safe, wear your mask, and all that jazz. But every once in a while, as you are both comfortable, ask a friend if they’d be willing to exchange a hug. 

Help you plan your next celebration. 

Whether it’s a birthday, a lease signing, a promotion, or whatever, ask a friend to help you mark the moment. It can be as big or small as seems reasonable to you. You could meet up for ice cream and go for a walk, or you could plan to meet a group of friends at a local bar, or you could all attend a live event (assuming that is a thing we will be able to do in the near future). 

Don’t do all of these things at once. Mayhaps just start with one thing per week or month. You might get some rejections, but you will probably get some positive responses as well. 

Try it and let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below!

August 29, 2018No Comments

Opt In

"...because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:5-6, ESV).

The friendships I talked about in last week's post didn't just happen overnight. We didn't magically become close enough friends to take a genuine interest in each other's lives. It took time and it took some work. 

But Marebs, you might think, you are so suave and not socially awkward, you must just naturally attract all the coolest people to you with your winning personality and winsome humor.

I know, I know. I am as shocked as you are that humans don't just flock to me with all their walls down begging for a healthy dose of sass, neurotic deflections, and intimacy issues.

I am slightly introverted. When I first took the Myers Briggs test as a 17-year-old high school junior, I was 100% on the introverted side of the spectrum. When I took it last year, I had moved to 93% introverted, so basically I'm a social genius now and human interaction is my bread and butter.

Nope.

It takes effort for me to leave the comfort of my home, put on something besides athleisure, and socialize. If I spend too much time around too many people, I cannot function.

Fortunately, I have found a career that gives me ample opportunity to be on my own, read good books, and be creative. However, I have to make sure I balance it with good conversation, good meals with others, and all that social stuff. Otherwise I get all in my head and neurotic and stunted. If I don't have friends to check my logic, I can convince myself of all sorts of crazy things. Just ask my therapist. Though if you did, joke would be on you because confidentiality

I've been thinking a lot about that phrase Paul uses, "from the first day until now." All of my closest friends, and yours, started out as mere acquaintances. How did that growth happen? With some people we hit it off immediately, and with others it takes some time to grow on each other. But regardless, most friendships reach a point where they continue to deepen or they taper off.

You may or may not know that I spent eleven months on a mission trip called The World Race. During that year, my teammates and I spent a month in eleven different countries in some questionable living situations. The hardest part by far, and I think most of my teammates would agree, was living with each other. For safety reasons, we had to be around each other all the time. We didn't have phones or wifi to use as a distraction. We just had each other. We had to choose in or be completely miserable.

Sometimes we were completely miserable, to be honest. I remember in Thailand, it was my friend Stephanie's birthday, and someone decided what we really needed to do was get up at 7am and roam the streets of Changmai looking for waffles. I had a terrible head cold at the time, and I don't function at that hour of the morning when I'm at full health. I spent the entire quest for waffles (which failed, by the way, because apparently the Thai people are wise enough to not be awake at that hour, and if they are, they aren't making waffles) acting like a two-year-old. I'm not kidding. It was a full on temper tantrum. On my sweet friend's birthday. When we returned from our failed mission, I quite literally stomped upstairs back to bed. #BlessedToBeABlessing

There were countless moments where we had to keep choosing each other that, in normal America life, we would have walked away. It can feel like there are always better options at our fingertips. But sometimes you need to stick it out because something sweet is around the corner. Sometimes you do need to walk away, and we'll talk about this specifically later in the series. But there is a difference between a toxic relationship and one that hits a rough patch.

I can tell you with complete certainty that I am better for opting in. And I like to think my friends feel the same way about me. I just need to remember that when it's time to meet new people and Netflix is calling...

August 22, 2018No Comments

Week 1: Fangirl/boy Your Friends

"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you" (Philippians 1:3, ESV)

I want to start this blog series with gratitude. In the planning phase, I was thinking about all my friends, all the hard things and the amazing things, and I am so grateful. I have been surrounded by some cool people, ladies and gents who I call "Philippians 1:3 friends" even though I know it's incredibly cheesy. It's basically an Etsy business waiting to happen. Someone, write it on some burlap, and it'll sell itself.

Jen Hatmaker wrote a book called Of Mess and Moxie, in which she encourages her readers to "fangirl your friends." I have, as the kids say, zero chill. Jen can probably attest to this, as I low-key (very low-key, thank you) stalked her in the Grand Rapids airport when we were both trapped there for 12 hours during an ice storm this past April (Thanks, Michigan). I think I was minimally creepy and I probably talked to her like a person, not some mythical creature who poops rainbows. Regardless, I can go majorly overboard when I'm jazzed about something or someone. It's mostly things like Lord of the Rings, Sherlock, and a long list of authors and comedians with whom I would very much like to be friends.

But I am surrounded by humans who are doing incredible things in their everyday lives. I have a friend who is leaving for India tomorrow to work with a non-profit called "Women of Worth" for ten days. I have a friend who just got back from 4 weeks in SE Asia visiting factories and companies as part of her thesis research. I have a friend who is about to buy a house. I have a friend who is about to get married. I have a friend who is stepping out into a career as a producer. I could go on all day. We are surrounded by people who are making all sorts of brave choices all the time!

A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking about a mentor of mine who had a profound impact on my life. OK, fine, I was practicing (out loud) for a speaking gig at her church or in her area which I do not have. I was talking about intimacy and how the people we surround ourselves with shape who we become, for better or worse. And in thinking about Meg and all that she has meant to me, I was getting all weepy and sentimental because she loves Jesus and people authentically with her whole self. The next day I decided to text her and let her know how much I thought of her.

Here's what I wrote:

You were with me in some really dark times in my life and I'm so grateful for that. But the Lord used your presence as well as your absence during that time. There were times when you were too busy to text back or answer the phone or hang out on my timeline because you are a person. In those times, I had to be alone with Jesus, which was scary. Several of the times I reached out, I was looking for a security blanket. But when I had to be alone with Jesus, I grew to know him much more intimately. I met Immanuel in those broken moments of fear and anger and confusion, and it's made me stronger. All that to say I'm thankful for you and to remind you that HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT. He created us with limits so that we would constantly have to keep going back to HIM. I'm thankful for your gifts, which are many, but also for the bits where Jesus gets to take over.

She responded, "That is the VERY BEST news I could ever hear. So much freedom to know that He uses me when I am present and absent--when I am doing a bang up job and when I am totally blowing it."

It took maybe 5 minutes to send that text, a little reflection, and a minimal awareness of what was going on in her life (thx, social media). I did not know, when I sent that text, how much it would mean to her. It was an act of remembering and expressing something true, though not necessarily groundbreaking by cultural standards (by which I mean she didn't write a best-seller or release a platinum album or win an Emmy or whatever). But it was worth saying.

There is something powerful in saying things out loud, and iterating what seems obvious. Of course, I am thankful for my friends. Of course, I am proud of them. But if I don't say it, we might forget or become stuck inside our own heads, which is not always the most encouraging place to be. Reflecting on my friendship with Meg was likely just as good for me as it was for her. It was a reminder of the inspiring and encouraging person she was, is, and is still becoming. Even the friendships that are now broken, or friends with whom I'm going through a rough patch, I am thankful for them. Gratitude is a way of seeing each other, and letting our friends know that they are seen in their struggles and their joys. I don't believe we can underestimate the power of such a gesture.

August 15, 2018No Comments

The Art of Friendship: Intro

I hope you enjoyed reading the "Things I Didn't Learn in Youth Group" series as much as I loved writing it. Next week, we will pivot to a new blog series on a topic close to my heart that is uniquely crucial for singles...

Friendship!

You might have noticed that there are sermons and classes and podcasts and articles and books and books and books about marriage, particularly from the church. Friendship, on the other hand? Not so much.

Sermons and resources on spiritual friendship are not unheard of, but they are relatively uncommon, particularly when compared to the number of resources on marriage and parenting. And yet, friendship is an integral part of the fabric of any church community. It presents unique challenges and joys, and it has the potential to be life saving.

I love talking about friendship, and especially talking about my friends. Y'all. They're so great. Jesus has brought some ridiculously awesome, messy, flawed, faithful humans into my life and he has taught me so much through each of them. In fact, the last section of my book features several chapters about friendship and stories about my friends.

Over the next several weeks, I'm going to dig into some of my favorite topics relating to friendship. I'll share resources with you and give you a lot of questions to consider. I hope that these blogs will spark conversations and challenge you to do the work necessary for deep, intimate friendships.

I pray that you will also look back on your significant friendships, or look around at the ones you still have, and be grateful. In many ways, we become who we surround ourselves with. We have a great capacity for wounding each other, but we also have the power to heal and encourage and lift up and practice consistency in our own clumsy and messy and well intentioned ways.

Get pumped.

June 14, 2018No Comments

Infectious

The Necessity of Receiving Generously

I grew up in the South and have been schooled in generous hospitality. We Safrits believe in going above and beyond, then above and beyond again. Whenever my friends stayed over, from elementary through graduate school, my parents insisted on treating them to meals. When it came time to pay the check, the friend usually attempted to pay separately. I warned them, but the dance must be done. God forbid they would try to treat us to dinner. "You are our guest! Why would we invite you and then make you pay?" Hospitality was always something to be given-no matter what.

I was in Tampa with a friend and her family just last month, and found myself in the position of all of my friends. They are good Texans, and the pervasive threat of what our mothers would say haunts all of us. The first night, my dinner was paid for before I even had the chance to do the whole Baby Mama "Oh wait, let me..."

Later that night, I was talking to my parents, assuring them that I had not in fact died on the way to Tampa. When I said that we had all gone to dinner, my mother shot back, "Well, did you pay?"

There it is-the tone every southern woman dreads.

"No, they wouldn't let me."

My dad was next, and asked the same question.

I said, "Dad, if Abby was a guest of ours, would you let her pay for her own dinner?"

Of course he wouldn't. It feels great to be hospitable, to feel like you have something to give. But to receive? It is humbling and vulnerable. Having to ask for help adds another layer of intimacy.

I am mostly too proud to accept or ask for help. I feel like I need to prove to the world, who is obviously watching my every move with clip boards and waiting to see who I will demonstrate myself to be, that I am independent. I am a single woman. If I ask for help, it is some sort of signal that I am insufficient on my own.

Oh, what's that you said? That's the essence of the gospel of grace? Calm down with all that logic.

Jesus says that it's more blessed to give than to receive, sure (Acts 20:35). But he also is the constant champion of the vulnerable, elevating the meek and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. I don't think it's actually a contradiction.

In the early church, the followers of the Way lived with an open-handed attitude toward their possessions and their spiritual gifts (Acts 4). The act of giving creates a power dynamic when it is one-sided. It breeds toxicity.

When generosity is fluid, it builds intimacy. It is also infectious. If you balk at someone else's generosity, it will close both of you off. Jesus gave generously to the point of death, but he also received generously. He let himself be anointed with costly oil. When that squirrelly bat Judas got all self-righteous about it, Jesus reprimanded Judas and recognized the beautiful and costly gift Mary was giving him. (John 12:1-8)

I did, by the way, end up stealthily paying for dinner one night in Tampa. Rest easy, southern readers.

Communicator. Creator. Coach.

© 2020 Mary B Safrit LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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