I’m impossibly stubborn. For example:
It was two in the morning, about four years ago. Our then-toddler daughter appeared at our bedside, awakened from a bad dream. I lifted my leaden limbs from the bed and carried her back down the dark tunnel of stairs to her bedroom.
But, I missed the last two steps, went sailing, then twisted an ankle when I turned midair to keep from landing on my little girl.
When morning dawned, I rolled out of bed. Literally.
I crawled to the kitchen to make the girls’ breakfast, dragging my swollen foot behind me. (Good thing I keep the Cheerios on a low shelf.)
I fussed. I moaned. But when the phone rang with offers for help, I pretended everything was fine, just fine. No really, I’m ok. I’m fine… (Insert fake smile here.)
Our local MOPS leader had offered to set up a whole week’s worth of meals. The neighbor offered to take the girls for the next few days. A good friend insisted on driving me to the doctor. Another friend called to see if I needed a set of crutches.
My response, every time: “That’s okay. I’ll be fine.”
But I wasn’t okay. I needed help. In fact, I wanted their help. I just didn’t want to admit it. I was disinclined to make a fuss. I didn’t want to put anybody out. And I definitely didn’t want to appear, you know, needy.
Like I said, I’m impossibly stubborn.
Maybe I’m a Minnesotan after all. Because up north, there’s a term for this: Minnesota Nice. The kind folks in Minnesota have a tendency toward politeness in any situation. Perhaps being courteous is easy when you live in a state that looks like this:
I feel nicer already.
But there’s more to “Minnesota Nice” than being courteous.
I’m told by my Minnesota friends that under “Minnesota Nice” rules, you would actually turn down something three times before accepting it, even if you really wanted it.
FRIEND: “Jennifer, I’m sorry to hear about your ankle. I’m bringing a casserole over.”
JENNIFER: (Laying on kitchen floor, secretly wanting casserole while icing right foot with package of frozen peas): “No, I’m fine really.”
FRIEND: “Are you sure? Because it’s no trouble at all.”
JENNIFER: (Scooting on rear across floor to find yardstick with which to knock ibuprofen from cabinet because she cannot reach it): “No truly, I’m doing pretty well, considering.”
FRIEND: “Let me bring you a casserole. I already have one in the freezer.”
JENNIFER: “Well, OK, then. If it’s no trouble…”
Thankfully, even though I might be a tad-bit “Minnesota Nice,” my friends are their own brand of Nice. They showed up at the doorstep after my first refusal. And the friend who took me to the doctor insisted that I — gasp! — sit in a wheelchair.
Lately I’ve been wondering:
1 — How often have I stopped at ONE? When offering help to a friend, I wonder how often I miss the opportunity to really serve because I took “no” for an answer the first time around.
2 — How often have I denied others the opportunity to extend grace? When I say “no” over and over again — out of my own stubbornness — I am not giving them the chance to do what God called them to: Be the hands and feet of Jesus.
How about you? What kind of “nice” are you? Is it more difficult for you to receive grace, then to extend it?