Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Remembering to Ask

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

I just did it again – I wasted time and energy stressing out over a problem that could have been resolved easily had I taken the time to ask for help.

My part-time job as parish webmaster for my Church involves keeping our web site updated on a regular basis. Last evening, I received a request from my supervisor that something be placed on the site. In an attempt to be responsive to her request, I made the needed change and went to upload the site to our server. I was met with the equivalent of a computerized door slamming in my face – no upload, no error message, no explanation. I’ve worked on the site long enough to know that something was wrong and needed to be fixed, and that the situation was beyond my capabilities. The smart and efficient move at that point would have been to pause, contact customer service at the hosting company, and wait for their reply. However, in my bullheadedness, I tried several work-around solutions, none of which worked. After putting my sons to bed, I tried again and was again denied access. I went to bed later in the evening, annoyed that I had not completed my supervisor’s request and concerned about the problem, but still without calling customer service. I awoke early this morning, tried again, and was met with the same problem. The third time proved to be a charm – I was frustrated enough to pick up the phone and dial the 800 number. With one call and a fifteen minute delay, the problem was resolved quickly and effectively. The site was updated immediately. Had I called customer service last night, I probably would have gotten a full night’s sleep.

I share this experience because it parallels trials we all sometimes face as parents, and as people. I’m embarrassed to share the number of times I’ve obsessed about a problem before taking time to pause in prayer. I know that quiet time spent in prayer, every day, is a crucial component to my life. I know in my mind that when I’m confronted with a situation seemingly beyond the scope of my own control, my first reaction should be to turn my heart to God. And yet, all too frequently, I charge ahead and try to sort things out for myself. I neglect to ask for divine intervention for the guidance and wisdom I need to choose the correct path. In doing so, I make a difficult situation even worse.

Someone I greatly admire recently shared with me that she asks her children on a regular basis, “What would you like for me to pray for today?” She listens to their replies and takes their intentions with her to her time spent in Adoration. She pauses in the midst of whatever they may be doing and prays right then with the child. She prays the Rosary aloud with or in the company of her children, remembering their special intentions. I borrowed her line this week with one of my boys and was astounded by the list of prayers needed that he shared with me. Why had I waited this long to ask him? I don’t have the answer to that, but I do know that I’ll be asking him regularly from now on, and will also be asking him to pray for me.

Forgetting or neglecting to ask for help can extend beyond our prayer lives. On multiple occasions, I’ve declined an offer of help from a friend when I really could have used it. From opportunities to car pool to offers to babysit, I’ve turned down chances to allow people who love me to help me. “It’s ok,” I share confidently, “I can handle it all myself.” Nine times out of ten, I do handle it all alone. What I remember on that tenth time when I allow myself to ask, or to accept an offer of help, is that there is grace present in both asking for help and in receiving help. If we are always the one who gives to our loved ones, we never allow them to be the givers. If we take great joy in helping others, we should remember that they might too enjoy helping us every once in a while!

As a person and as a mother, I am challenging myself to remember to ask. Both routinely and spontaneously, I need to turn to my Father in heaven, who loves me so greatly, and to ask Him for the grace to live each day to its best and for His ultimate mercy in my life. Next time that server goes down or I’m worried about how to get two children to two separate locations at the same time, I will remind myself that I’m never alone and that I don’t always have to do it all myself.


Cami said...

Beautiful, Spirit-filled word, Lisa. Thank you for sharing it.

Anne said...

Thank you for this timely message. I was becoming slightly stressed with school ending and 5 young children at home. Your last line enabled me to take a deep breath and know between God and friends, it will be a great summer. Love your blog!