Almost as important as the words, “I love you” are the words, “I need you.” Why? Because it’s a basic human need to be needed. And because by divine heritage, we like to serve others. But we don’t always know who or how to help. I have to admit that I’m terrible at calling for help. I like to think I can handle everything myself—even when I can’t. I feel private, maybe embarrassed, about my need. And I don’t want to put others out or cause concern. But there are great benefits of asking others for help. I thought of six things. Maybe you can think of others. 1) When you say, “I need you,” often you’ll go on to state the “how” part. Then we feel confident to take action in a specific way. 2) Your asking for help makes us feel needed and important. 3) You honor us by trusting us with your urgency. 4) You invite us inside in an intimate way. 5) You give us an opportunity to serve which makes us happy. 6) We become bonded in deeper friendship. For these reasons, I should not be embarrassed to ask for help. I must always remember that “We are all in this together. We need each other. Oh, how we need each other!” (Marjorie Pay Hinckley).
Men, this blog is for you: The smallest gestures of kindness convey the biggest messages of love. I am married to a smart and strong man, but “How sweet it is when the strong are also gentle” (Fudim). Here is one small example. At the close of one hectic day, Alan and I both slumped with fatigue. With usual efficiency, he had finished his list of tasks before I did. He tried to help me, but mine happened to be a one-man job, so he started pacing the floor. His conscience would not allow him to sit down and relax while I still worked. Can you imagine? Predictably, he performs the normal manly gestures, like opening doors and carrying heavy bundles. But he makes me feel loved in countless other ways that show respect and give comfort. He memorizes my preferences; rubs my feet after a hard day; helps with chores; serves himself last; drops what he is doing to help me look for a misplaced item; solves my computer problems; speaks respectfully; tucks me in bed at night; and doesn’t ever criticize. These things melt my heart and inspire me to give more in return. Aside from his other strengths, much of Alan’s greatness is expressed in countless unselfish gestures—“That best portion of a good man’s life—his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love” (William Wordsworth). These ongoing small gestures of kindness convey enormous messages of love.
Do you sometimes feel that God doesn’t hear or answer your prayers? Although in truth He answers every sincere prayer, it’s not always in the way or as soon as we might expect. Thus, sometimes we miss it. “Seldom will you receive a complete response all at once. It will come a piece at a time, in packets, so that you will grow in capacity. As each piece is followed in faith, you will be led to other portions until you have the whole answer” (Richard G. Scott). So, when I pray for help, God will give me gentle promptings that make me ponder and learn to trust. I must act on the promptings and even struggle before the whole answer becomes evident. Sometimes an answer comes merely as a feeling of peace. I’m learning that answers come in a step by step process, and during that process, I am drawn closer to the Savior in my desire to hear and learn. Heavenly Father is a personal, living God. He knows our names, and cherishes us as His children. Because He loves me, He will answer my prayers in the way that ensures my greatest growth, change, and capacity for joy.
I’m collecting an idea bank of ways to reach out in kindness to others. Here is a list of kindnesses that others have offered to me that I really appreciate: Receiving an unexpected thank-you card or text. Making me feel welcome in a group of strangers. Giving me eye contact while I speak. Carving out time for me when schedules are busy. Praying for me. Telling me the truth when it isn’t easy. Anticipating my need and stepping in to help when I couldn’t ask. Showing me a beautiful sunset that I didn’t notice. Remembering my name. Teaching me a new skill. Forgiving me. Kidnapping me and taking me to lunch. Listening to my problems with empathy. Sharing an uplifting thought that resonates in my soul. Showing me a better way by a shining example. Sharing a good book. Encouraging me when I think I can’t. Giving a heartfelt hug. Helping me see something good in myself. Remembering my birthday. Laughing with me. Dismissing my faults and focusing on my best.
Can you share some meaningful kindnesses that you especially appreciate?
Everyone knows it is not very helpful to say, “If you need anything, just let me know.” Does anyone ever cash in on this offer? It’s so much more helpful to perceive a need and step in and DO something—than to stand around waiting to be called. But I think the same principle holds true in my communication with God. It’s like my perfunctory offer to a neighbor if I say in prayer, “Lord, if you need anything, just let me know. Let me know if I can help anyone.” Posed this way, I have rarely received an answer. Rather, I should say, “Here am I. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8). Then look for someone to help, initiate a plan and go to work. A message of love is extended even if the service misses the mark. It is a beautiful thing to observe people taking personal ownership of another’s burdens. My husband is really good at this. He tackles others’ problems with the same passion and urgency as his own. But sometimes I hesitate, fearing that my offering won’t hit the mark. Or I worry about intruding. Or hesitate because I’m not sure exactly where to begin. I can and want to improve. “God does notice us, and He watches over us. But it is usually through another person that He meets our needs” (Spencer W. Kimball). To make this happen, I must be a willing recipient, and accept another’s offer to help as God’s means of blessing me. It goes both ways. I need to be a proactive agent in serving others, and a willing recipient in accepting another’s offer to help.
Which is harder for you—being an agent of service or a willing recipient?