It is a Big Deal


A few weeks ago a friend asked me for a favor. He needed help sorting through some technology issues with his phone and computer. My first career, and current hobby, was in technology so it came as no surprise that he’d asked for my help. After I’d finished the project with him, he said thank you and for the third time in that setting apologized for inconveniencing me. “Don’t be sorry, it was no trouble at all,” was my response.

I was a bit surprised by how quickly these words came out of my mouth. One of my pet peeves is when people apologize for things that need no apology. It wasn’t true. I’d taken time out of my day to help him with an issue that didn’t concern me. The truth was, it was an inconvenience. But it was an inconvenience that I was willing to give because I care about my friend. I wanted to serve him and our friendship.

After realizing this wasn’t the truth, which wasn’t more than a couple of seconds later, I corrected myself.

“Actually,” I said, “it was an inconvenience.” I paused to let those words linger for a moment and continued. “Saying otherwise isn’t truth, nor is it honoring to you and our friendship for me to pretend it wasn’t a big deal. Me giving you some of me, my time and energy, is one way I’m able to show you that I value our friendship.”

This led to a different conversation about self-worth, value, and why it’s difficult to accept love/care from others. It was a conversation that never would have occurred had we both remained nice towards each other.

Our conversation highlights a challenge in relationships: telling the truth about the minor things in life is hard. “It’s no big deal…” is such a simple, polite, and well meaning statement that all of us have made to another person. Too often saying something isn’t a big deal sabotages giving the gift of love and acceptance.

Telling someone “you’re not bothering me,” or “It’s no trouble at all” communicates that the request they are making is easy for you to accomplish. Spoken in regards to a task or to-do list, perhaps “no trouble at all” has some truth to it (especially if the request of you is something you’re gifted at doing). The limitation of this statement is that we deny showing the other person their importance in our lives.

We’re selfish people by nature. We want what we want, when we want it. As we mature, it takes discipline and proaction to act contrary to this natural tendency. So when someone asks something of us, we have to sacrifice our selfish desires for the benefit of the other—this is love. It may be minor in the sacrifice, such as helping a friend with a technology problem, but it is still a sacrifice. In order for trust and relationships to grow, we need to know that someone is willing to sacrifice themselves on our behalf. Without this understanding and experience, and we’re left to wonder if the other really sacrifices anything for us.

Letting someone know that we’re willingly choosing to sacrifice, be inconvenienced, and not passively hold it over their heads deepens relational intimacy. Little things piled together makes a big thing. Be proactive in your relationship to intentionally build a big thing of trust by making mention of the little things.



About

Samuel Rainey is a professional counselor primarily working with couples, men, and women addressing issues of sexuality, emotional health, relationships, and spirituality. He is the co-Author of So You Want to be a Teenager with Thomas Nelson. He earned his Masters in Counseling Psychology from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology in Seattle, Washington. When he is not roasting coffee, tending to his garden, or playing golf, he blogs about life process, parenting, and relationships at SamuelRainey.com. He can also be found on twitter @SamuelRainey. He and his wife reside in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee with their four children.


  • This is really interesting. I am definitely guilty of saying things are “no big deal” or “not a problem” when they are. I love you state that it is an inconvenience but the other person is worth it. What a statement of love and care for the other person! I need to start working on responding in a similar manner! I’m very blessed with a hubby that sacrifices much for me, and I for him as well, but it is good to be open and honest in communication as well and I can see how that would deepen the marriage relationship, or any friendship.

    Thanks for this!!!
    paula

  • Lindsay

    Food for thought. Thanks Samuel!

  • JOni

    “I value our friendship.” I like that way of expressing it. Thanks. I think now I have a good response ready… “you are very welcome…I want you to know I value our friendship.”

  • gilbert

    great reading actually thought of all the missed opportunities

    • “The past can hurt, but you can either run from it or learn from it” … Rafiki (from the Lion King)

  • KEVANS

    I agree with this stance completely, And I also must say that in many instances, when dealing with the emotionally immature people in your life (and sometimes they are family) you see in their face when you utter such honesty, that they really only heard that part where you say “It was an inconvenience” and after that they stop listening to you and start listening to the inner voice that screams ‘GUILT’ for being a burden to the other person. It is what it is, so to this article I say; know your audience and bend it to their emotional maturity. And Viva Honesty!!!

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