A few months back I read Love Does by Bob Goff, and I have never wrestled with a book so much in all my life. It has been months since I have finished it, but it has so permanently shifted my thinking that everything I do seems to pass through a new filter that the book created. The filter that was created is one where I am truly seeing others as worthwhile folks, as a a son or daughter of someone, and that they have value regardless of position, title, or circumstance.
I recently experienced this filter kicking in when I went to the post office. It was early morning and as I parked outside, I noticed there was a man sleeping in the lobby trying to stay warm from the frigid outdoors. When I went inside to drop off my mail, he woke up and started mumbling something and I just walked out, got in my car and left. As I was leaving, I was reminded of the truth that this man is important, regardless of his looks or circumstance. I pulled back into the parking lot, went back inside and started a small conversation. What I did wasn’t anything exceptional. I didn’t give him money or offer to buy a meal, but I asked him his name, wished him luck and I went on my way to work.
This interaction didn’t change his life and he probably forgot about me as soon as I stepped outside the doors. This interaction wasn’t for him though, it was for me. It was so that I could take one small step in this new direction and have this new way of thinking would further take root.
Over this next week, what if we all looked at those around us as someones son or daughter and realized that they have value regardless of position, title, or circumstance? How different would our lives and the world around us look if we used this filter and actually started loving those around us?
Every time my son gets another year older I enjoy looking back over our relationship and doing a self evaluation. Typically, as I look back over the year, I have no regrets and I’m encouraged by everything. Sadly, this happens to be one of the years that I could have done some things a little different.
As insane as this year has been for me professionally, I have managed to spend a large quantity of time with my son and have shared many adventures with him at the in-laws cabin. Even with all of this time spent with Sam, I realize that there are moments, moments of impact, that I still don’t do a very good job of making myself available to him. This became abundantly clear one weekend when we were washing cars together and I was in full get stuff done mode. While I was trying to quickly finish up the last car, Sam had taken out his old water pistol and started to try and fill it up. After about ten minutes of him trying to fill it up, spraying me with chilly water, and asking for help about every minute, I had had enough. I snapped and asked him to stop trying to fill up his water pistol and said that I would help in just a minute. In response, Sam threw down the hose, dropped the pistol and quickly scooted inside.
After I finished washing the car I went inside to get Sam so that I could help him fill up his water pistol. Sadly, he no longer wanted to be outside with daddy, and he didn’t want my help with the pistol. As I was left to go back outside by myself, I realized that I had missed a simple opportunity to connect and have fun with my son.
It’s in the simple moments like these when we need to pause what we are doing, and focus on what is happening right in front of us. I mean how stupid is it that I got frustrated because I got squirted with chilly water as I was washing a car? What an idiot.
As I look back over the past year I have seen hundreds of small opportunities like this with my family, and others, where I have put what I am doing over them. This will be the year that I start being more available and generous with my time. This will be the year where I will lift my nose up from my work, and actually look into the eyes of those asking for help and trying to connect. In fact, lets all make this the year that we start becoming more available to those around us, and seize the small moments to make an impact in others lives.
Impatience doesn’t care about gender, race, or age and it reeks havoc on individuals, companies, and relationships. My wife and I have had countless conversations and even arguments because one of us, usually me, is being impatient.
It wasn’t until recently that we came to a realization about the word patience and how it relates to our lives. A few months back we, along with so many others from Lindsay’s old neighborhood, were invited to a party to celebrate the marriage of the brother of one of Lindsay’s best friends from childhood. As the day arrived, we packed up the family and went on the five minute drive to the neighborhood where my wife grew up. The home where the party was held was perfection. It had gorgeous hardwood floors throughout and each room was perfectly furnished. There was beer, wine, snacks, and desserts set up throughout the house and a local BBQ company had catered the event. The backyard was beautifully landscaped and had a relaxing water feature and a stunning lake view to cap it all off.
As I mingled with the other guests, every single conversation would always turn towards fond memories from years gone by. The memories would usually include how my mother-in-law taught their kids piano and stories about Lindsay and her parents. This party, in every aspect, was perfection.
As we packed up the kids and started the five minute trek home, we talked about how beautiful the house was, how unbelievable it was to have refreshments all over, and how great the conversations were. That was the type of party I wanted to throw. I wanted to have the perfectly manicured landscape, food and refreshments flowing from all corners of the house, and conversations of moments long gone by. As our tires hit our driveway, a different thought popped into my head. That party, as perfect as it was, took over 30 years to execute. It may have been a day of actual planning and follow through, but it took over 30 years for the whole thing to come together.
When the house was first purchased it wasn’t fully furnished with updated features throughout. It took years to fully furnish, make updates and additions, to get the perfectly manicured landscape with that calming water feature. The conversations weren’t trivial because everyone had the base of 20 plus years of background. About the only thing that didn’t take 30 years was the food and refreshments, but even having the ability to purchase them without blinking an eye takes years of putting money away so that you can have celebrations like these and not have to focus on the cost.
In the weeks that have passed since attending this party, I have come to realize how I need to have the patience to see the small steps through. When we look at the small steps taken over time, we get to see a big improvement. But in the midst of the shuffle, they don’t seem to matter at all. We all need to learn to deploy patience because it’s what helps give us perspective to see the impact we are making, and the legacy we are leaving.
Building bridges of relationship that can bear the weight of truth. This phrase needs to be ringing in our minds every time that we are talking to someone. Not because we need to be buddy buddy with every person we come in contact with, but because of how it can help us with all of our interactions.
Building bridges of relationship that can bear the weight of truth has been something of great importance even before I first heard this quote by Dr. Tim Elmore. I have lived by this phrase for decades and it has paid off greatly. The best example I have of this actually paying off is with my previous job where I worked at a local Chick-fil-A.
I worked my tail off till the last second when I clocked out for the very last time. I did this because I understood the importance of hard work and the message it sends. I also understood that not giving my full effort until the very end usually ended in a loss one way or the other. Since I moved onto my next job I have been able to stay in touch with the operator of that store and he has been a constant mentor. Not only that, but I have been able to help him out with a few things from employee reviews and even something else in relationship to some leadership training he wants to do for his leadership this Summer.
Never ever give anything but your best, because even though you are moving onto another job, you have no idea when you will have to call upon that relationship with your previous employer. It could be a letter of recommendation, needing extra hours to make some cash for a season, a mentorship, or a million and one other things. Whatever the reason ends up being, make sure that you left in such a way where they actually want to help you.
If you want to watch the most recent #ALJ video, which is all about this topic, click here: https://youtu.be/SJZGLpUT-Sc
What are some ways that you have benefitted from building bridges of relationship that can bear the weight of truth?