I heard in his voice that my husband wanted to go to the cabin this weekend, but I didn’t really want to go. My husband is not blatantly clear about what he wants like I am, and I’m learning to hear him when he wants something, especially when I don’t want to do it. It is easy for me to try to “run him over” from what he wants to do with my excuses or fear, and get him to change his mind.
On Friday I let the fears I had about going farther north for the weekend—“What if our car goes off the road and we have a baby to protect?!” “What if it is too cold?” “What is the road isn’t plowed or we get stuck up there?” Stephen listened to me, and we kept going back and forth. Go, not go.
But then I sensed he really wanted to go, and when he finally told me, “I want to figure out a problem that Uncle Roger is having with the furnace, and I want alone time up there with my little family—an adventure.” I heard him. I pushed myself to stop being afraid and just do what my husband wanted. Then we slept on the decision, and the next morning we both came to the same decision: “Let’s try to get to the cabin in the Prius, and if the roads are too bad, we will come back.”
We reached a new level in our communication, and the road was fine driving up there (not so much driving back). We did have an adventure—with walking on the frozen lake and having to pee in a bucket because of frozen pipes! Some of my fears DID happen—the weather got bad on the way home, so we had a stressful end to our drive home on snowy roads.
Part of me wanted to say, “I KNEW this would happen!” But loving my husband meant jumping into the adventure, and enjoying sitting in front of a roaring fire and playing cribbage with him, and not saying, “I knew this would happen” on our drive home. I love thinking of my son standing in front of the fire with Stephen, and laughing because he loved the sound of a coaster falling on the hearth.
A change is happening in my ability to pick up on my husband’s needs and fulfill them even if I don’t really want to sometimes.
The transition of learning to be more outward focused (picking up clues of what others want and are telling without saying the words) instead of being inward focused has taken years for me to learn. Recently a book that has helped me continue on with this journey is the book, Everybody, Always by Bob Goff.
Bob’s book is a collage of stories of different people who are loving others well and that he is learning from: Ugandan witch doctors, airport checkpoint guys, his neighbor… He drives home the point, which is the tagline of the book, “Becoming love in a world full of setbacks and difficult people.”
It’s easy to love those who love us, but Bob is showing us how to love those people who are hard to love. For example, he tells of a phone call received from an inmate (a wrong number actually), and Bob decides to show love to this man who keeps calling him because he thinks Bob’s number is his girlfriend’s number. Bob helps the man connect with his girlfriend, who has now moved on, and then finds out the inmate needs money for an ankle bracelet in order to get out of prison. Bob tells the man that he will pay for it (which it turned out to be a lot more expensive than he thought!), and shows the inmate care, right when he needed it.
Bob says, “These pages contain the stories of some of my friends and what they’ve taught me about extravagant love and acceptance. I’m indebted to each one. The first thing I’ve learned from them is that I have a long way to be the kind of loving person I’m hoping I’ll be some day. The second is that only the kind of radical love and acceptance I’ve experienced from this will help me close the distance”
(p. 226 of Everybody, Always)
My favorite chapter was when Bob describes how he borrowed someone’s small plane to fly to an event he was attending, and when he was returning home one of the lights that indicates his wheels are down for landing didn’t turn on when it was supposed to. He circled the landing strip for a long time, then decided to just take the risk and land (or he was going to just run out of gas). He prepared to crash because you cannot land with just one wheel…but he didn’t! He had both wheels out down there—it was the light that was faulty. Then Bob makes the application that has helped me:
“Recognize when your beautiful ambitions are getting stuck inside your head. You don’t need to take all the steps, just the next one. God may not give us all the green lights we want, but I’m confident He gives us all the green lights He wants us to have at the time. Go with what you’ve got. If God wants you to stay put, He’ll let you know. We also have some guaranteed green lights that are always on: our noble desires; God’s clear instructions in the Bible to love everybody, always; His love for us; and the gift of each other. You can put a lot of weight on these and triangulate from there to figure out the rest of life’s unknowns. The difference between the number of green lights we want and the number we get from God is a pretty good description of what faith is. Faith isn’t knowing what we can’t see; it’s landing the plane anyway, rather than circling the field. Get the plane on the ground” (p. 94 of Everybody, Always). I don’t have to have all the possible problems figured out before I do something! Yes, there could be snow on the roads and that could cause trouble, but I didn’t need to let that fear stop me from doing something that turned out to be pretty fun! Take risks. Just love people.
This book is helping me take more risks in loving people, and I’m so glad I read it. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to give your copy away instead of just letting it sit on the shelf.
Check out Everybody, Always right here: It is a fun and easy read.
I’m glad I finished this book this week, the day we were discussing going to the cabin or not. Our cabin adventure brought Bob’s point home—we will have setbacks, frozen pipes, slippery roads, but God’s love can help us love the people around us well.
What tips do you have on learning to be more others focused?
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