What’s a great book you’ve read that really got your mind turning? Which one had such an excellent message that you couldn’t help but start using what you learned immediately?
My friend Mike Dieter recommended both of Bob Goff’s books awhile back. I loved the first one and took it to heart (I’m pretty sure I even blogged about it, but due to being on a flight without wifi I am unable to confirm that). This second book, Everybody Always really caught my attention and has me thinking very deeply about many of the points. Being able to take my time to read the paper copy while removed from the hustle and bustle of daily life was exactly what my soul needed to take it in. Without question I’ll be reading it again in the not too distant future if, rather when, I start to feel the impact wear off a little.
The basic concept of the book is very straight forward. To live a joyful life and to live into our fullest potential we must love everyone. Period. That’s it. Love others.
While on the surface it’s very simple the part that hit home most for me was when I thought about friends and family. I already love them, but sometimes I don’t give them love when I should. Sometimes I get frustrated and angry. Sometimes I don’t treat them with the love they deserve. When I first thought of this group I felt pretty good about doing a decent job, but that was quickly followed by about a thousand different times when I should have acted differently. This book started to help me see more of that gap and how to overcome it.
When the book talked about strangers I felt pretty good about how I usually treat strangers. I give a smile, and sometimes make some small talk. Then as I thought about it I considered how many times I’ve averted my eyes, put my headphones in, or found some other distraction to help me avoid loving a stranger. I was humbled at how many times I have felt that pull to do or say something to help someone smile or to open up to be the person to listen that a stranger may need – but then I consciously ignored that urge and didn’t want to engage with the person. Bob’s stories helped me see so many ways I could be a better “lover of strangers” and how I could possibly help brighten the day for others. The other reminder for me was something one of our priests one shared and something I’ve experienced and received through another; the Holy Spirit works through people. Instead of ignoring those nudges I occasionally feel I should listen to them and really lean into them.
Towards the end the book helped me take a hard look at a spot that I know that I’ve got a huge gap to traverse… loving my enemies. Dang, this is a tough one! Bob shared an excellent example of how he was able to find a way to love someone who do some truly unspeakable things. The interesting thing was that he helped me feel much more human about how this can happen. While he showed great love he also explained (& I’m paraphrasing), “I really hope he’s not my roommate in heaven, but I’m sure we’ll talk”. I’ve filed many of these thoughts and stories and am considering ways to truly take action. This will be a tough one, but I know I can make progress.
On another note, this book also reminded me I should open up the Bible a little more often. In particular, I felt impelled to re-read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 through 7). One particular concept that really stuck out from this book was Matthew 5:14-16.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
This strikes home in two very different ways. First off, it is not right to hide my joy and shield myself from sharing it with others. When I ignore someone that is exactly what I’m doing, covering and hiding my light. On the other side of this thought when I ignore others or don’t take the time to listen to them instead of talking at them I’m putting a blanket over myself and avoiding the sight of their light. By listening and engaging I might be filled with their joy.
Funny how many wonderful nuggets about how to love and live there are tucked away in a few chapters of a book from a couple thousand years ago. I’m grateful that this book has reminded me to go back to it’s pages a little more often to find the help, inspiration, and guidance I could really use sometimes.
Whew, that’s a lot from one book! Mike, thank you so much for the recommendation dude, you knocked it out of the park again! Seeing how you really live so much of this book is one of the reasons I so appreciate your friendship. Thank you for helping me find ways to become a better me.
PS: Seeing as we never really had a Black Friday this year due to traveling across the International Date Line I figured I may as well write two blogs today. Also, due to the air travel the way it works out on the way back today will be a 41 hour day for us. If I only blogged once in almost 48 hours I’d probably get all twitchy! 😉