Don’t you fear, this is not a mushy post… or at least I don’t think it is.
There is abook by Gary Chapman called “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate,” and I haven’t read it… BUT in it he talks about five ways that we best receive love.We all receive love differently and we are pre-disposed to showing it in those ways.
Over the years I have come to realize that I receive love best through words of affirmation.I am a huge words person and it literally means the world to me when I get notes or letters of affirmation.In fact, the best gift my wife has and ever will get me came last year for my thirtieth birthday when she gave me a book full of letters from friends and family.With every letter tears were shed and memories were talked about.It was the freakin absolute best gift ever.
The purpose of this post is because my sister just recently gave me a card that was full of the sweetest message.It didn’t just say that she loved me but she told me about how a piece of content I created, had impacted her and clarified a way of thinking.She really is the best sis one could ask for and I have loved seeing how our relationship has grown as we have been adults.
I want to encourage those reading this to at least look at and get a general understanding of the love languages because it will impact how you interact with those around you.Knowing how the ones you love or work with best receive love / affirmation will change your relationship.When we do this, it changes the culture of our home and office for the better as it becomes a place where teamwork and help thrives.
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.
For my entire high school career, 2001 – 2005, I was a wrestler.Yes, I realize that was over a decade ago and even thinking about that is still wild to me, but the lessons I learned back then are still impacting me today.
In 2001 my friend and I joined the wrestling team because we wanted to do something after school and wrestling sounded fun.Not sure how we thought sweating and grappling with other hot sweaty men sounded like a good time, but we signed up for the team.A week or two later my friend ends up quitting, and honestly I am surprised that I didn’t do that as well since I had already tried the sport out in middle school and I hated it. I had mild success the first year, if I can really even call it that, and as the first season came to a close, I thought I would hang up my wrestling shoes and and never return.
My coach, Jim Haskin, had a different thought running through his mind.As I came up to him and told him my thoughts on quitting, he took me for a lap around the halls of the school and said something that has forever stuck with me.“Stippich,this choice is the start of the rest of your life.This choice of quitting or staying with the team will set you up for how you view commitment the rest of your life.This will set up your future relationships, and even the type of commitment you hold in marriage.”He told me to think about it over the weekend, and let him know on Monday what I decided.
I wrestled with what he said all weekend, pun intended.It consumed my thoughts, and even though I was on a church retreat that weekend, all I could think about was commitment, and how it all started with small decisions like the one I was having to make.Come Monday, I let coach know that I would stay with the team.That lesson on sticking with your commitments, no matter what, has shaped how I view my word and the bond it creates when I agree to do something.I don’t go half way on anything.I am all-in and fully committed to what I say I will do.
I never thought high school wrestling and what I would learn through that sport could be so integral to my life.I am grateful Jim Haskin pushed me to stick with my commitments, because it has forever changed my life.