Tag Archives: love

why don’t they get it.

It isn’t a new question.

We have been asking, “Why don’t they get it?” forever.

Almost forever, anyway.

Ever since there were two people, since social media options included face-to-face and nothing, someone has thought about someone else, “Why don’t they get it?”

(Whether “it” equals social media or community or my plan to make you rich (and me, too), the principle seems the same:)

The only way “they” have ever gotten it, in a life-transforming, behavior-altering, long-term-money-generating way, is when we think of “us” as if we were “them”.

The ability to express “me” is fun. But until “we” express “them”, why should they care?

I mean, as a conversationalist, we will be as interactive as a cymbal if we don’t listen.

Think about it: “We” could tell “them” everything about the future, but if they think we don’t care about “them”, “they” won’t trust it (or us).

We could be the best social philanthropists, but if it is all about our reputation instead of the lives of others, there is no point.

So how would it work to see from their side?

  • They will get it (enough to make it their own) only when we are patient with their objections and tentativeness.
  • And most of the time, it really helps to be kind.
  • If we are jealous of what they have already, why should they trust whatever alternatives we offer them?
  • Or we’re looking primarily for what we will get out of it rather than what they will get, they are going to look to some other “we”, some other way.
  • On the other hand, we may actually be the best, but our boasting, our pride, will push them away more than invite them closer.
  • In fact, our very rudeness gets in the way of them getting it (in most places anyway) and if we get angry easily about their questions or their behavior, if we take their criticism personally and respond the same way, if we keep track of every little misstep “they” take, we will make no progress.
  • In order for them to get it, we’ve got to respect them, expect their best, trust them.

They will get it if we are less consumed with them getting us, and more concerned with us getting them.

It’s about love, after all.

This was my chapter in The Age of Conversation 2: Why Don’t They Get It? I realized that I can share it here now. But you can still buy the book. (Of course, the link is an affiliate link). And yes, I do acknowledge a debt to Paul.


closet cleaning

When we were on vacation last week, my dad and I cleaned out a closet.

It is a closet in a cabin that was built nearly forty years ago. It is a closet in a cabin that is used for only part of the year. It is a closet full of stuff.

Dad sat on his lawn tractor. It gives him legs that move faster than his walker. I picked pieces off the shelf and carried them to the door. He told me where to put each piece, sometimes asking “do you want it?”, sometimes saying “yes” when I asked if I could have it.

Neither of us said much more than that. Anyone watching would think we were pretty calm. Anyone watching would have been wrong.

As each piece was carried, evaluated, sorted, both of us were remembering.

The aluminum pole with a hoop was a fishing net, the kind that he and I had used decades ago when we fished together. I never realized how much I liked that, how much it shaped me, until years after we stopped.

The tool box, worn plywood, was built to hold the tools that were then used by my dad to help build a camp for boys. When he started, it was a bare field, empty woods.  When he moved onto other responsibilities, both field and forest were full of cabins and life. Because it was born a couple years after me, I used to think of Nathaniel (the camp’s name) as my little brother. It is still being used, still shaping lives.

The metal and plastic circle was the dome light from an old car. Dad had kept it to someday put a light in it.

Piece after piece. Story after story. Dream after dream. Memory after memory.

We kept the process factual, but we knew that this was a passing of a baton.

My dad was giving me some projects to pick up, some tools to use. He was giving me permission to toss some of what he had worked on because his projects are not necessarily mine. He was giving us the chance to remember what we have done together while we could do that remembering together. He was reminding me that stuff, after all, is just stuff and that people are what are worth saving.

We took a load of stuff to the dump that afternoon. Much of it is surely gone (though the guy at the dump did his own gleaning.) And that is a good thing.

But I did rescue the tool box. After all, it built my brother. I need it to help me remember to build things that build people.

Thanks, Dad.

sweet corn

When I was much younger, which is a polite way of saying, “nearly five decades ago”, we went to my grandparents’ farm.

We got there at dusk.

I don’t know how far we had traveled. I can’t remember how old I was, so I can’t remember where we lived. It could have been a couple hours, up from New Hope. It could have been all day, from Carol Stream.

My grandpa led me to the field. He picked sweet corn, two or three ears. My grandma got the water boiling. I sat at the kitchen table, eating sweet corn. Nothing else. No one else.

He was pretty quiet, my Swedish grandpa. I never doubted that he loved me. Not after giving me my heart’s desire that night.

Who know you love them, that clearly?

Five love languages

nancy washing windows

I don’t like to follow trends. When a book becomes popular or has multiple editions and workbooks, I avoid it. It’s just how I am.

Because of this tendency, I put off reading The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate for years. (It came out in 1992. I read it in 2003 or 4). One day, however, I saw a copy and decided to skim it.

I’m glad I did.

In this book, Gary Chapman suggests that rather than there being just one way to say, “I love you”, we can think about five languages:

  1. Words of affirmation: encouraging, kind, humble, specific words, whether written or spoken.
  2. Quality time: undivided attention, listening conversation, significant activities.
  3. Receiving gifts: A visible, touchable reminder that someone else cared to think about you.
  4. Acts of service: Doing what matters to the person, for the person.
  5. Physical touch: Physical contact, usually without direct sexual connection.

Chapman suggests that it is possible for couples to have different love languages and, as a result, to experience great frustration in their relationship if they are actively saying “I love you” in a language their other isn’t hearing.

For example, spouse #1 may love gifts. Even little, handmade, cheesey gifts. They mean paying attention. They mean thinking about. Spouse #2 may love quality time. Even sitting looking at each other without the TV on for 15 minutes, talking. If spouse #2 thinks gifts are a waste of time and money but is always hanging around, and spouse #1 spends time making scrapbooks of the relationship, this couple is going to feel empty and unloved, though they love each other very much.

On the other hand, spending even a little time learning another language will strengthen the relationship significantly.

There is much more in the book, but even this much has been helpful to a number of people I know. Including me.

Why do I randomly decide to write about this concept today? Because on Saturday I talked about it with a couple who I will be marrying in a couple weeks. Today I suggested it to a friend who is wanting to do something special for his anniversary. A month ago, I promised a friend that I would send him the basics as he thinks about his wife and children (and I forgot).

Two-thirds of these people didn’t know about the concept, though it made tremendous sense and brought insight. And a social media chaplain should probably be giving people some tools.

Maybe it will help you.


Photo: Nancy saying “I love you” though it looks like she’s washing windows.

starting to focus

blurred picture of andrew and allieI’m working on focus. I working on the questions that I need to ask myself about what I am doing, about whether, in fact, I am doing what I should be doing.

You know the feeling.

This is not asking about whether this is the right job or career or direction. Instead, this is about how to be more on target, more on task.

I’ve been reading two three books that are helping me this week to move toward focus. [Side note: between the time I started this post and the time I am finishing, a week later, I have forgotten what other book I was reading that was helping me focus.]

1.  Steve Farber tells a wonderful story, a leadership fable. And then, in the appendix, I found this sentence: “Love is your retention strategy.”  The Radical Leap: A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership.

Farber is talking about a variety of kinds of love, love of people, of an idea, of a vision. I need to focus it to people. But I realized when I read that sentence that for church, which is where I spend my time, love has to be the retention strategy. It’s core, it’s basic, it’s foundational.

2. Sometime before I read The Radical Leap, I was reading Sticky Church by Larry Osborne. Osborne is talking about how to close the back door for churches, to make them, as he says, sticky.

Basically, what we have done is to take most of the energy and resources we would have spent on special programming and front-door events and instead poured it into making our church more welcoming and sticky.

Once I gave up the dream of reaching everyone outside the church, I was suddenly free to focus on taking care of those who were already inside the church.

It sounds like Osborne is wanting to turn church into a club. That’s not the case. What he is wanting is to make them so loving that the word of mouth brings people in rather than huge marketing efforts.

Obviously, if I were writing reviews of these books, I would need to summarize more of their arguments and examples and systems. I’m not. I’m talking about focus. And from these two books come one focusing question to ask myself everyday:

“How did I close the back door by loving today?”

That is a focus that will actually make a difference. A quantifiable, justifiable, verifiable, life-changing difference.


What I learned from the sidewalk

[This is part of Robert Hruzek’s group writing project “What I learned from a sidewalk.“]

Walking is how Nancy and I met.

I mean, we had know each other. We had talked occasionally, briefly, acknowledging the existence of each other. But we had never talked. Until we took a couple long walks. Once with a couple friends. Once, just the two of us on a Thursday night, A walk that ended with us deciding to get married. We had our first date a couple weeks later. We were engaged a couple weeks after that.

But that’s not my story for today.

A couple years ago we met each other again, walking. I mean, we had been together for the 24 years since getting married eight months after that long walk. But two kids, a few jobs, a lot of talking with other people, you need to talk. We’ve spent the last two years walking and talking, forty-five minutes a time, once or twice a day for most days.

Life on the  outside of our conversations has been interesting for the past two years. Our time walking has carried us well.

But that’s not my story for today.

One evening a year or more ago we were walking. We were on the sidewalk near our house. I wish I could remember when, exactly. Nancy could tell you. She remembers whens. I can see the moment. I remember pictures.

We were walking and talking and fully engaged in the subject. Nancy was looking at me. And then she wasn’t. She was falling forward.

The sidewalk at that place had about a two inch incline. It inclined all at once. And Nancy’s eyes were on me. Her toe found the incline.

“Oh God. Oh God.”

All I could do was pray. I couldn’t reach. I couldn’t support. I couldn’t help. My wife was falling face forward on a rough sidewalk and I couldn’t do anything. And it was a terrifying feeling.

She survived. Her hands and knees and face were scraped. Nothing, however broke.

We limped home, me holding her up. Me calming my panicked heart.

We have been through worse moments involving tumors and a baby and jobs and relationships. Other people have been through much worse. And I understand all of that.

What I learned however from that sidewalk on that night in that moment is this:

I do cry out to God as an automatic response in crisis.
I do love my wife more than you or she or I realizes from moment to moment.

(And happy 26th anniversary early. I am grateful to call you my wife.)

Reflections over coffee.

If you know me, you know I drink coffee. In truth, even if you don’t know me, you know I drink coffee. I offer it on twitter. I have a mug in my hand most of the time. I bought a domain just to have a made up place to go about coffee mug values: coffeemugvalue.info.

Over at smallbizsurvival.com today, there’s a post I wrote about customer service at a coffee place that advertised the world’s best coffee. I still don’t know how good the coffee at Biggby‘s is. I know that their process for helping me have the best possible opportunity to have a good experience is great.

You can read the post over there to find out how they served me. Over here I have just this obervation.

How we treat people matters.

From a business sense, certainly, it is helpful. But there are examples of people who provide lousy customer service and still have a lot of business. (A Seinfield character comes to mind.) And at times, in a business sense, there is a financial benefit from niceness. I mean, Biggby is getting some traffic which may lead to some sales from this (unsponsored) post.

But it’s more than business.

If I say that I am about life-transforming love, if I shout from the (digital) mountaintops that God is great and God is good and we should thank him for our food…and I do not have a life that is shaped and showing, at some level, love, then I might as well be a pair of marching band symbols. Getting attention, yes, but in no way conversational or compassionate or relational.

Not a perfect life, mind you. Our opportunity is to grow, to be shaped. But our lives are shaped by our relationships. Who we hang out with, who we drink coffee with, what we talk about while we are drinking coffee will shape us.

I understand that more people would be interested in church if we spent more time over coffee. It is valuable to sit side by side and sing and listen. (It really is.) But somehow, I think I need to spend more time sitting face to face talking and listening.

Biggby Coffee had two people sending me emails and coupons and asking for clear information about how they can help me have an accurate experience.

Of one short cup of decaf.

What could we do to spend that kind of attention on what is important to us?

i knew I started writing this, I just never finished

There are lots of ways to say, “I love you.” Nancy often says it by doing things. Last spring, she said “I love you” to a few hundred people by making a few hundred cookies.

Yes, she gave them kisses. And bars. And filled cookies. And cake mix cookies.

Tonight I was looking through the card on my camera and found pictures of the kisses. I realized that although I had thought about writing, I hadn’t followed through.

Following through is another way of saying, “I love you.” It says to the person we are helping, that we are promising, that we are agreeing to help that we are willing to value their priorities and our word.

I hadn’t ever told Nancy that I would write, but what I know is that one of the ways that I say, “I love you” is by saying, “I love you.” I also write posts like this that tell her, and you, that she matters.

In a couple minutes, when I finish writing this, I’ll go sit on the sofa (or the couch) and rub her feet as we watch TV. Actually, she’ll fall asleep and I’ll watch. And keep rubbing her feet. Until I fall asleep, too. Then Hope will laugh at us.

Between now and next week, we’ll probably head to Kohl’s. It’s her birthday next week and we’ll get her gift. Together. It’s smarter that way, at least some of the time.

Why am I telling you all this? To brag?

Not really. Mostly, it’s because we all have lots of difference ways to say “I love you” and we all hear it differently and maybe someone needs to be reminded that we need to think about how our loved one needs to ‘hear’ it.

I mean, someone besides me.

waiting here is not like waiting there

A former student of mine lives in Poland. He’s been there for a long time. A few years ago, he was back in this country visiting family. We talked for a bit.

Steve talked about a typical day: riding on the train, waiting in lines at the grocery, at government offices, for utilities. As he talked about the amount of time he spent on just living, I wondered how he got any working done. Everything was, to my ears, unproductive.

A friend of mine lived in Sierra Leone for several years. His work was translating. His time was spent fixing things, pulling people out of ditches, solving resource issues. As he talked about the amount of time he spent on just living, I wondered how he got anything done.

One day last week, I went to pick up food for the people I work with. Kim had tried faxing our order for 30 minutes, the time it took for me to get to the restaurant. I ended up having Kim read me the order over the phone as I repeated each item for the person at the counter. I then had to wait for the order to be prepared. My whole morning ended up shifting becaused o get food from that particular place.

I didn’t get frustrated with the waiting as I thought about the waiting that my two friends have done, the sheer volume of time spent in line at places offering little choice. I also realized that what I was doing was spending the time as a way of saying to the people in our office that people matter. For someone’s birthday, for the opportunity to choose this restaurant, offering my time seems to have been a very good thing to do.

I realized as well that my friends were spending all that time on living because they believe deeply that investing your time, your self, your life in offering people hope is a pretty good investment of time. For them, and for me for a few minutes last Thursday, the only productive way to demonstrate that you care is to not produce anything. It is to invest time.

It is to actually live love.

Maybe it is worth the waiting.

Talking together.

Books have been part of my life as far back as I can remember. However, apart from the one I wrote (also known as my dissertation), although books have been part of me, I haven’t been part of a book.

Until today.

(Okay, technically yesterday, because I submitted a day early.)

I’m one of the 275 authors of Age of Conversation II. A bunch of amazing people, and me, have talked about social media and conversation and why people aren’t getting it, aren’t part of if.

Apparently, we’re starting to post snippets of our chapters. It’s a grea idea, actually, since the book won’t be out until the fall. So,, to give you a taste of my manifesto, here you are:

“They” will get it
if we are less consumed with them getting us,
and more concerned with us getting them.

You’ll have to tune in later for the rest of the story. In the meantime, you can spend the next few months visiting with my co-authors.


“Age of Conversation 2 – Why Don’t People Get It?” Authors:

Adam Crowe, Adrian Ho, Aki Spicer, Alex Henault, Amy Jussel, Andrew Odom, Andy Nulman, Andy Sernovitz, Andy Whitlock, Angela Maiers, Ann Handley, Anna Farmery, Armando Alves, Arun Rajagopal, Asi Sharabi, Becky Carroll, Becky McCray, Bernie Scheffler, Bill Gammell, Bob Carlton, Bob LeDrew, Brad Shorr, Bradley Spitzer, Brandon Murphy, Branislav Peric, Brent Dixon, Brett Macfarlane, Brian Reich, C.C. Chapman, Cam Beck, Casper Willer, Cathleen Rittereiser, Cathryn Hrudicka, Cedric Giorgi, Charles Sipe, Chris Kieff, Chris Cree, Chris Wilson, Christina Kerley (CK), C.B. Whittemore, Clay Parker Jones, Chris Brown, Colin McKay, Connie Bensen, Connie Reece, Cord Silverstein, Corentin Monot, Craig Wilson, Daniel Honigman, Dan Goldstein, Dan Schawbel, Dana VanDen Heuvel, Dan Sitter, Daria Radota Rasmussen, Darren Herman, Darryl Patterson, Dave Davison, Dave Origano, David Armano, David Bausola, David Berkowitz, David Brazeal, David Koopmans, David Meerman Scott, David Petherick, David Reich, David Weinfeld, David Zinger, Deanna Gernert, Deborah Brown, Dennis Price, Derrick Kwa, Dino Demopoulos, Doug Haslam, Doug Meacham, Doug Mitchell, Douglas Hanna, Douglas Karr, Drew McLellan, Duane Brown, Dustin Jacobsen, Dylan Viner, Ed Brenegar, Ed Cotton, Efrain Mendicuti, Ellen Weber, Emily Reed, Eric Peterson, Eric Nehrlich, Ernie Mosteller, Faris Yakob, Fernanda Romano, Francis Anderson, G. Kofi Annan, Gareth Kay, Gary Cohen, Gaurav Mishra, Gavin Heaton, Geert Desager, George Jenkins, G.L. Hoffman, Gianandrea Facchini, Gordon Whitehead, Graham Hill, Greg Verdino, Gretel Going & Kathryn Fleming, Hillel Cooperman, Hugh Weber, J. Erik Potter, J.C. Hutchins, James Gordon-Macintosh, Jamey Shiels, Jasmin Tragas, Jason Oke, Jay Ehret, Jeanne Dininni, Jeff De Cagna, Jeff Gwynne, Jeff Noble, Jeff Wallace, Jennifer Warwick, Jenny Meade, Jeremy Fuksa, Jeremy Heilpern, Jeremy Middleton, Jeroen Verkroost, Jessica Hagy, Joanna Young, Joe Pulizzi, Joe Talbott, John Herrington, John Jantsch, John Moore, John Rosen, John Todor, Jon Burg, Jon Swanson, Jonathan Trenn, Jordan Behan, Julie Fleischer, Justin Flowers, Justin Foster, Karl Turley, Kate Trgovac, Katie Chatfield, Katie Konrath, Kenny Lauer, Keri Willenborg, Kevin Jessop, Kris Hoet, Krishna De, Kristin Gorski, Laura Fitton, Laurence Helene Borei, Lewis Green, Lois Kelly, Lori Magno, Louise Barnes-Johnston, Louise Mangan, Louise Manning, Luc Debaisieux, Marcus Brown, Mario Vellandi, Mark Blair, Mark Earls, Mark Goren, Mark Hancock, Mark Lewis, Mark McGuinness, Mark McSpadden, Matt Dickman, Matt J. McDonald, Matt Moore, Michael Hawkins, Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Michelle Lamar, Mike Arauz, Mike McAllen, Mike Sansone, Mitch Joel, Monica Wright, Nathan Gilliatt, Nathan Snell, Neil Perkin, Nettie Hartsock, Nick Rice, Oleksandr Skorokhod, Ozgur Alaz, Paul Chaney, Paul Hebert, Paul Isakson, Paul Marobella, Paul McEnany, Paul Tedesco, Paul Williams, Pet Campbell, Pete Deutschman, Peter Corbett, Phil Gerbyshak, Phil Lewis, Phil Soden, Piet Wulleman, Rachel Steiner, Sreeraj Menon, Reginald Adkins, Richard Huntington, Rishi Desai, Beeker Northam, Rob Mortimer, Robert Hruzek, Roberta Rosenberg, Robyn McMaster, Roger von Oech, Rohit Bhargava, Ron Shevlin, Ryan Barrett, Ryan Karpeles, Ryan Rasmussen, Sam Huleatt, Sandy Renshaw, Scott Goodson, Scott Monty, Scott Townsend, Scott White, Sean Howard, Sean Scott, Seni Thomas, Seth Gaffney, Shama Hyder, Sheila Scarborough, Sheryl Steadman, Simon Payn, Sonia Simone, Spike Jones, Stanley Johnson, Stephen Collins, Stephen Cribbett, Stephen Landau, Stephen Smith, Steve Bannister, Steve Hardy, Steve Portigal, Steve Roesler, Steven Verbruggen, Steve Woodruff, Sue Edworthy, Susan Bird, Susan Gunelius, Susan Heywood, Tammy Lenski, Terrell Meek, Thomas Clifford, Thomas Knoll, Tiffany Kenyon, Tim Brunelle, Tim Buesing, Tim Connor, Tim Jackson, Tim Longhurst, Tim Mannveille, Tim Tyler, Timothy Johnson, Tinu Abayomi-Paul, Toby Bloomberg, Todd Andrlik, Troy Rutter, Troy Worman, Uwe Hook, Valeria Maltoni, Vandana Ahuja, Vanessa DiMauro, Veronique Rabuteau, Wayne Buckhanan, William Azaroff, Yves Van Landeghem