The idea of writing a list of questions we would like to be asked is immediately appealing to me. I love a list! And intentionality! And making loving each other easier!
When it came down to it, though, I struggled with thinking of the questions. It was easy in theory, but practically, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be asked these questions! But it’s in vulnerability and moving into these hard spaces that we grow, right?
I think the idea of letting supporters into these conversations is going to depend on both the question, the supporter, and the person being asked. Some of these questions feel safe in almost any context; others will be more sensitive. But in general, I’ve found that choosing to safely share more with our supporters and show them vulnerability has always been a good decision.
What are you proud of in your life right now?
I think this is something we would immediately think to ask a husband or dad, but not a wife or mother. Especially one who stays at home, homeschools, and doesn’t have an “outside source” to be proud of or speak about. Yet, we are immensely proud of the work we do, and it feels incredible to have that be recognized and celebrated. Celebrate with us!
On the flip side, it can sometimes be helpful to make ourselves recall something we are proud of, particularly if we are in the middle of a busy season without much to show, or generally just feel like we are in the trenches. Having to put time into thinking about what we are proud of can be a really encouraging mental exercise.
How are you feeling in your marriage right now? In your parenting?
These can be scary questions to ask, so if you do, be ready for the answer. The truth is, we often feel…shaky at best, and it can be really helpful to process that with someone outside of our home and receive encouragement!
Sometimes, though, this can lead to heavy conversations. And we pray for friends who are willing to have those talks with us. Just be sure that you are ready
What feels overwhelming? Is there a way I can help?
Sometimes, we just need a practical hand-up. A grocery run. A babysitter for a random half hour window with no coverage. Someone to bring over a new computer in their bag. A friend to meet with for coffee for an escape. Someone to talk through a hard ministry conversation with us. But also, simply asking what is hard, and listening to the answer, helps us feel seen. There is nearly always something that feels overwhelming. Just being willing to listen is a gift.
What big things in life are you processing right now? Can I be a sounding board for you?
Often, living overseas and being in ministry brings up big questions and it can be hard to find perspective. Being offered a sounding board by someone in another life stage or demographic can be immensely helpful, whether they are living in the same context or not. And especially for those of us without a lot of immediate community, we often long for someone to talk through things with us
Can I watch your kids so you can have a date night? Or can we take them to do something fun without you?
Several single friends have done this for us at different times in life, and it’s been an incredible gift. Bonus points: seeing an event that you’d know we would need a babysitter for, and volunteering before we have to ask. It makes us feel so incredibly loved and valued. It can be hard to carve out this time, and trusted childcare can be hard to come by. Even just a standing offer is a real blessing to us.
Wanna bring your family over for dinner? Or lunch? Breakfast? Can I come cook for you if that’s easier?
Can I be honest? People don’t love to invite families over. It’s a lot of work. A lot more mouths to feed. And we get it. But goodness, is it a gift to us when someone is willing to risk it with us. Not just the practical one-less-meal-to-cook part, but the fellowship part. I think even families can do a better job of inviting other families into their spaces (myself included). And if hosting us feels overwhelming, offer to come to our place and bring something easy!
Is there a specific way that I/we can bless you in this season, or use our gifts and resources to help you?
This might be more for supporters, but immediate community can use this question, too. It can be awkward to ask for what we need. So forward. Especially if you’re already giving us money. But it’s such a gift to have it offered. Do you have an extra vehicle, vacation home, Audible account, frequent flyer or hotel points, or some other thing that might be a gift to your global worker friends? If that generosity is in your heart, don’t wait to be asked, because you probably won’t be. We constantly feel the tension of asking versus risking relationships.
For immediate community, think about what you might have: a useful vehicle, a team coming over with baggage space, even things you’re getting rid of. Offer those things to friends who might need them! I know in Kigali, a pickup truck is gold, as is the ability to send a few pounds of things to a team every now and then.
How do you feel about your spiritual health right now? Your mental health?
This is another question that I would encourage you to be ready for the answer to. We rarely get asked these questions. But they are so important, especially to the health of our families and ministries. Having people we can have conversations about this stuff with is invaluable. I think these are important conversations to have, both within immediate communities and with trusted supporters.
Do you have questions you would add to this list? What would be helpful for close friends, teammates or supporters to ask you?