A Culture Where It DOES Hurt to Ask…

You know that phrase, it never hurts to ask? Well, I think it can be spot on and even more so, that it can be an indicator of a society and culture. I’m a big believer of not taking things personally (one of the Four Agreements) and when practicing and believing this truth in your life, then the phrase works in this situation and it doesn’t hurt to ask. Or to put it more clearly, it doesn’t have to hurt you to ask. Keep this in mind as you read on…

Have you ever asked a favor of someone or just asked for more information, perhaps more clarification regarding something? And then that someone just doesn’t respond back. I’m not talking about the situations where you have to break free of someone or an unhealthy relationship. I know there are times when it is best to not answer back. What I’m referring to is the basic favor or perhaps question that may even have to do with business and is not even along personal lines.

What is up with people just NOT responding and following up? With all the technology in the world that we have and how connected we are, it seems that our communication between each other has only gotten worse. People simply don’t respond back. And why is this? Are we too busy? Are we afraid of saying no? Do we not want to tell the truth? Are we taking things personally?

Well, I’m posing questions because I think for each person the answers will vary, depending on the unique situation that one may be in and how different we each are. So answers are not what you will find here. Yet, what you are reading is my personal opinion. Regarding this matter, I think it is rude and poor manners to absolutely ignore when something is asked of you. I have found this neglect and avoidance to be more common in the American culture. Personally and professionally, people think that to have no response is fine. And I think it’s not. I think it’s cowardly and lazy.

I take it upon myself and my own responsibility to not be hurt by it…that is in my control and I do not blame others for whether or not I take offense to their non-response. If someone does not respond to me, I know and believe that they are not trying to hurt me. Actually, they cannot hurt me, unless I allow them to by deciding to take it personally. The powerful thing about not taking things personally is that what someone does, in this case not responding to something asked, only says everything about that person, not about me.

So me being hurt by asking is not necessarily in the equation here (remember, I take responsibility for that on myself). What is hurt is our culture and society. The etiquette and integrity of our personal and professional relationships and such societal structures. From my own personal experience, it has shown me first-hand that American culture does not tend to share. We do not like to be asked for things or for that matter, to be asked anything. Perhaps we think we’re too busy, the proverbial response that is received to almost anything in American life. And I say we including myself, because 1) I’m American and do love my country and 2) I have lived that life before and been that way – too busy.

This year has taught me different though. And you know what? It’s worth having learned this: that now-a-days and throughout the world, it can hurt to ask. If I let it of course…and as imperfect as I am at this as well, I am excited to turn this observation into motivation to communicate more considerately and truthfully, getting back to people, even if it means having to say no to what they may be asking. There are many people who I am fortunate to know and work with who are considerate and brave in getting back to me. I appreciate and thank them greatly because they are the biggest inspiration of all regarding this conviction.

I want to be intentional about this concept because it’s the kind of person I want to be and the way I desire and hope for people to be with me. So here’s to the reality that it can hurt to ask. On what end of the asking will you be?

Thankful for Brokenness

I have to write this…I have to sit and write to face the pain; to face the hurt…and to even be thankful for the brokenness. On this Thanksgiving Day I am not in the United States, however, I am glad to be thinking of how my loved ones, friends and family alike, are celebrating this day and putting special attention to the powerful goodness of being thankful.

Perhaps thankfulness does not always feel so good though. Maybe sometimes, it is amidst hurt, pain, and sadness. My parents have been divorced since I was nineteen years old, which makes it eleven years now since that occurrence in our family. Yet long before the divorce took place, the hurtful damaging things that led up to it, started years before. I don’t feel the need or that it’s appropriate to get into too much detail or depth here, yet I do find it valuable and at least helpful for me, to spill out and release what I am learning from God today. That is this…my parents are very different people and they come from such different cultures and worlds. Rather than think that this means that it’s not possible to enjoy love and family while being such different people and from different parts of the world, I am going to be thankful…

I am so thankful for the rich heritage and history of my family ancestors on both sides. They both exhibited immense courage and integrity fighting for what they believed in and for their fellow countrymen. Venturing to places unknown and overcoming oppression and discrimination, these past relatives of mine were adventurous, industrious, faithful, and full of faith.

The continuing characteristics of quiet strength, steadfastness and endurance partnered with passion, boisterousness, art and romantic idealism, come together from both sides of my family to complement each other with the best of all hearts. In thankfulness I embrace the fiery spirit dressed in loud voices and intense emotion, meeting with the calm demeanor that borders on shyness and speaks its few words passively. Each can be overwhelming if enjoyed just on its own, thus I am so thankful and grateful, that I have all the wonderful differing aspects of my families to enjoy.

I am thankful for what both sides of my family have in common…kindness, hospitality, grace, forgiveness and love. Most importantly, my families are there for each other. They seek to be together for holidays, spend time together and take care of each other. They have all taught me what it means to truly live out being a person who deeply respects others and myself, is strong in character even when things are not going our way, and who works hard and is willing to sacrifice for oneself, love, and each other.

Amazing, what thankfulness can do…I think that among the many wonderful and magical effects that thankfulness can have, it can also make the picture clearer. No wonder I love different cultures so much. No wonder I love things that are different from me and what I know in general!  Here I am traveling in such a way to experience the actual local culture by experiencing the local people, and I myself come from such a diverse background: Scottish, Irish, Dominican, and Spaniard (and keep in mind that Dominican is Spaniard blood mixed with African blood, which I proudly embrace).

I have the kind of heart that loves to travel. So far, no one else in my family has traveled as much as I do or for that matter, gone about life the way that I do. Yet they all have wonderfully attributed to who I am and my heart for traveling. The capacity I have to not need a house or one place to feel secure and at peace, to love meeting people even if I don’t know their language, to trying new things…I was made with a heart that embraces travel. True, there are a lot of other things that I am passionate about as well, yet they all beautifully tie in together to support and enrich each other. Like my writing and singing, my love for music, dance, and nature…these are all very helpful to traveling as well. At least for me they are.

So what was I thinking? Yes, there is brokenness in my family. Last time I checked, everything in this life and world is broken, cause nothing is perfect. Being thankful has taught me that it’s okay to feel the pain, it has its place and purpose too. Thankfulness shows me that I don’t have to remain stuck in it, rather I can allow it to grow me up and break me free, up through the ground to flourish like a flower and see all the beauty and joy in the differences, the uniqueness. I love these differences that make up both sides of my family. I love them, because they make up me.

Thank you God for my family’s quietness and loudness. Thank you for their passiveness and aggressiveness. Thank you for the peaceful calmness and the intense fiery passion. Thank you God, that you are all these things as well and thank you for all of my family and me.