One of the greatest lessons I learned from my mother was not to beg. Ever. When my sisters and I were little and accompanied her on errands, Mom always made sure we were well fed and rested. If we were cranky or irritable, a trip to the grocery or the library could wait, for the last thing Mom wanted was a passel of whiny kids tagging along, begging for candy or a trip to the toy store.
Of course, there were times when I asked for something I didn't need (i.e. a box of Captain Crunch cereal or a pack of fruit-stripe gum). I have a visceral memory of hiding in a circular clothes rack at the Lion Store because I was close to tears, exhausted from school-clothes shopping. And I'm sure there were times when I pushed Mom to her limits by incessantly asking the same question over and over again.
But whenever I begged to be taken home or to ride the merry-go-round one more time or to go to Penguin Palace for an ice cream cone, and it wasn't in the cards for that day, Mom would resolutely tell me "no." Setting limits was a big deal to her, and thank God. When I became a teacher, I was able to mirror her firm, but fair way of letting my kids know where the boundaries were so they would feel safer in our classroom.
When I taught pre-school and the kids would start to whine or beg for something they knew they weren't allow to have, I'd lift a brow, give them a playful smile, then ask, "Have we met?"
This would usually invite giggles on the child's part and a swift shake of their head. They knew I'd hold my ground and give them an alternative choice which usually included playing a game or sitting on my lap while I read them a storybook. Every year it took a while for the kids to test my boundaries, but after a few weeks, they'd get the picture and relax into the awareness that while they weren't allowed to beg, they most certainly were encouraged to ask questions.
Which they did...incessantly.
Which I loved...wholeheartedly.
Over the years, I've learned that begging doesn't necessarily have to be vocal, and it doesn't have to come from a childish place of wanting instant gratification. I've silently begged for many things all the while hoping that my non-verbal pleas would somehow sink in with the person I was involved with or the circumstance I wanted to change. I've done things I would never do again because my choices have cost me time, money, and my dignity, which I've learned cannot be bought or sold. Still, my self-respect was repeatedly tarnished by covertly imploring another to pay attention to me or sign me as a client or realize that I have worth, for I cannot tell you how many times I carried an invisible sign that read, Will work for love / acceptance / recognition.
It's taken a long time for me to know what I really want in my life, and an even longer time to figure out how to create it. While doing the work still plays a part, pleading - in any form - does not. I am too proud to beg because I've figured out that my real destiny would never ask me to get on my knees beyond praying for guidance.
I'll still ask a lot of questions, still want to know when and how and where to turn for help. But I'm sure that whenever I get tripped up in needing things to be what I want and exactly the way I want it, the Divine will gently ask, as It always does, "Kate...have we met?"
And I'm sure I'll giggle like I always do, once more learning to trust that to live in the mystery of things doesn't mean I have to beg for what I want. I can simply trust that it's being delivered in a package that might surprise me...but will always be better than I imagined.