I am 32 completed books into 2013. That may sound like a lot but I’m actually a little behind on my reading goals and I’ve been playing catch up. I took a recommendation recently from a friend, Meghan, who goes to my church. She told me about ‘Love Does’ by Bob Goff. I wasn’t particularly familiar with the book itself but I was familiar with Bob Goff. In Donald Miller’s book ‘A Million Miles in a Thousand Years’ he tells an amazing story about Goff and his family and once I put two and two together I decided this was worth a read.
I snagged it on Kindle a few weeks ago and dug right in. I could give you quote after quote of Goff wisdom but really what spoke to me about ‘Love Does’ were two main things. The first is that when someone asked Bob for his help he didn’t just meet their most basic need. He would ask himself how to do more, bigger, and better than the request.
In the book this was illustrated when a young stranger approached him on his porch and asked him if he could borrow his backyard to propose to his girlfriend. By the time the proposal rolled around 3 months or so later it involved 20 of his friends making this couple dinner in Bob’s kitchen, he and his girlfriend eating on the back porch, borrowing Bob’s boat which he would drive them around on, and the added surprise that Bob recruited the local coast guard to do fireworks on his signal after she said yes. Whew. I was wow’d by Bob.
I honestly can’t think of a time a stranger asked me to go out of my way for them and I thought ‘how can I do one better’. This attitude and his burning desire to do for other people really spoke to my heart. Do I seek out opportunities to bless others? Do I go above and beyond meeting people’s basic needs?
The second was the way Bob wasn’t held back by the usual standards. He never let the practical be the determining factor. When his kids wanted to meet leaders of other countries he said – why not? He let them write letters and he said if they got a ‘yes’ – he’d find a way to take them. And he did. I love that. I think so often as we enter adult life we forget how to dream big and we find all these ‘responsible’ reasons not to just do. But Bob is right, love does. Love is active. It’s bold. It’s big.
I want that kind of love. The kind, like Bob’s, that makes strangers family. The kind that tells people to ‘come by the house anytime’ and means it. I don’t want to love people in a way that impacts one or two people but to love in a way that inspires everyone who comes in contact with me to love others harder. That’s what Bob’s book did for me. I fell in love with his style of love and it made me want to live a little more radically.
A few days later I was sitting in my own living room of my sweet little starter home that God has so graciously kept intact despite my knowing little about being a homeowner when I bought at 24. I was sitting on my zebra ottoman chatting with 5 interns from my church over dinner I had prepared for them after one of them said ‘hey, we’d like to come to your house sometime – you’re a good cook and we like to eat’ . I love that kind of thing so of course I said yes and spent literally three weeks scouring Pinterest deciding what to prepare. But anywho, I’m halfway through Love Does and I’m on my zebra ottoman talking to these fabulous, inspiring interns of ours and I thought – hm, love does. It’s that simple. The concept of love doing can be as simple as cooking and inviting someone over to be part of your home, your family, your life instead of just meeting them for a sandwich at Panera.
Sometimes we make things big in our head that are really quite small in reality. Sometimes doing love isn’t a boat and fireworks. Last week, for me, it was waking up early so I could call and pray with a friend that had a court date. The week before it was 2 pounds of bbq with 5 sweet interns in my kitchen talking about their next steps. And a month ago it was going shopping with a coworker who wanted a second opinion on clothes for her cruise with her husband. Doing love can be simple and still have a big impact.
You know the best part about it though? If you love people right, they keep coming back. That friend I prayed with? This time they asked for that because once, months ago, I offered to call and pray with them not just for them. And those wonderful interns? They’re coming back this week for some more dessert and fellowship. And my new coworker I went shopping with? She’s taking me shopping this weekend to help me pick out a few things for my sisters wedding festivities.
Love is funny and contagious in the best possible way. I have been more intentional this year with learning to love and serve my friends well. You know what’s funny? Without meaning too I’ve paved the way for them to do the same. As I’ve been more consistent in my efforts you know what’s happened? My mailbox has filled up with encouraging cards (my love of snail mail has spread like anthrax apparently). The people who’s prayer requests have graced my fridge this year? They’re praying for me. And the people I’ve moved mountains to me there for? They were there for me when I didn’t even know I needed it last fall.
So for the nudge towards doing love better and for creating a sense of community that isn’t limited only to what’s practical and convenient – I’m grateful. And if you’re looking for a little inspiring summer reading, pick this one up – he knows what he’s talking about.