My family has a huge group chat that includes my grandparents, parents, aunt, and four siblings. Typically, we utilize our family chat to check in, send updates, or share images of our travels, and, as with any family, there is a mix of iPhone and Android users within our group chat. My mom, sister, aunt, and I all own iPhones and so can “like,” “love,” “thumbs-up,” etc. pictures and messages, while my other family members with androids simply see the message “Elaine loved an image.” During ILSSO (International Leadership Summit for State Officers), I was sending my family multiple images a day that captured some of the moments from my travels and experiences abroad, and my mom, aunt, and sister would frequently “love” and “like” my photos. One afternoon, I noticed a message in the chat from my grandpa, saying “Papa loved an image.” After a second of thinking, “that’s weird. I’m pretty sure he can’t actually do that.” I realized that, because he had an android cell phone, every time someone “liked” or “loved” an image he was seeing a written message, not just the little emoji on the corner of the message. For that reason, he thought that we were all actually typing out the words “Elaine loved an image,” and from a desire to share in our enjoyment of a picture or message, and excitement to experience what the sender was feeling, decided that he would start sending those messages too.
Firstly, I think that’s literally the cutest thing ever and I couldn’t stop smiling for like thirty minutes after I figured it out. Secondly, I think there’s also a really good message in it. Part of loving people and being a good leader is a desire to be with the people you’re leading. That may mean doing something you’re not necessarily knowledgeable about or really understand, but because you genuinely care about that person, you’re willing to do life with them in a way that is meaningful to them.
I don’t know about y’all, but I love to read, like, L-O-V-E to read. Through a book, I feel like one truly has an opportunity to enter another world and glimpse into the mind of another person. One of my favorite books that I’ve been reading recently is “Love Does” by Bob Goff. He is undoubtedly one of my favorite authors, and one story that never fails to make me smile is when he wanted to find a way to be with and love his son in an extra meaningful way. After some thinking time, he decides that the best way to do that was to learn how to skydive because even though he was absolutely terrified of the concept, it was one of his son’s true passions. Over the next couple of months, he took sky-diving lessons so he could shock his son with this special moment. When the big day arrives, he surprised his son with the opportunity to go sky diving together and, as the plane reached its required altitude, Bob and his son lined up at the door, and his son made the first jump. Even though it was a nerve-racking experience, Bob, out of a desire to be out there with his son, jumped so hard and so quickly that he knocked his shoes right off. The chapter ends with the thought: “how will you show someone that you’re willing to jump out of your shoes to be with them.”
This, to me, is so incredibly profound. In our everyday lives, how do we show people that we’re willing to do anything it takes, face fears, venture into uncharted territory, take risks, just to be with them? I think, like Bob Goff so beautifully says, love does. It means choosing to pursue and be with those around us without thought of cost or uncertainty. In our lives, perhaps that looks like taking intentional time to learn more about someone and show that you are invested in them as a person. Maybe it looks like choosing to do something you know they are passionate about, even if it’s not your favorite thing in the world. Whatever it may be, today, how are you, just like my grandpa and like Bob Goff, going to show people that you’re willing to jump out of your shoes to be with them?
Stationed by the Ear of Corn,