Friday, May 14, 2010

The Blessing of Loving Others, Enthusiastically!

"People may forget what you say,

but they will never forget how you made them feel."

There's something about my husband that draws friends, both old and new, like bees to honey. It is especially curious to me, since, in nearly all polls on Friendships of Men, most males claim not to have even one close friend.

This past week we spent time in the Great Northwest, where Greg grew up, reached out and made friends, the same way he's been doing all his life. He sought them out to reconnect, find out how they were doing, to share mutual triumphs and failures, sorrows and joys that make up our lives as the years pass. But mostly, to let them each know how often he thinks of them, and always with joy and gratitude. He's the most proactive, intentional friend to others I have ever observed. And thus, people bask in the sunshine of his kind approval like, as my Texas mother says, "a sick kitten takes to a warm brick."

When I asked Greg, "What makes you so proactive with people?" (As just one example, he paid $20.00 for a special search program to find a long lost friend with whom we enjoyed the most wonderful conversation over lunch last week!)He said, "There's a song called When God Ran that is a sort of undercurrent to my life's philosophy. It's a song about how God pursues us, and its a quality I've always wanted in my life. I'm an initiator."

Besides being a pursuer of people, there's a second quality I see in my husband that he may not even fully recognize. He responds to those he loves (like me, for example) with enthusiasm. He does this by adding just a little more "oomph" to his typical responses than the average guy.

Often, when folks come to the door he greets them by walking toward them, arms open wide saying, "Well THERE you are! It is so GOOD to see you!"

When I offer up an idea he likes (from a restaurant to try, to a book title)he doesn't ever say, "Good." or "Fine" or "That sounds okay." He says, "That's GREAT idea!" Or "Absolutely!" That little extra bit of enthusiasm goes through me like a bolt of joy. It's almost embarrassing how happy his simple but exuberant responses make me feel.

When I call home from anywhere, including the grocery store down the street, he greets me with, "Hi Darlin'! So good to hear your voice..." When I overhear him answer the phone from clients or friends, he always greets people in a way that conveys, "I love that you called! So GREAT to hear from you...." Someone once said, "A salesman without enthusiasm is just a clerk." I really do believe it is Greg's authentic enthusiasm and enjoyment of people that has made him one of the most successful and beloved literary agents in the publishing industry.

A few months back I wrote a blogpost based around a poem called "Blessed Are They Who Are Pleasant to Live With" as it seemed to epitomize my husband. A huge part of that blessing and of Greg's "pleasantness" is his pursuit of and enthusiasm for me as his wife. I never stop being surprised by how truly happy he is to see me every morning as I come down the stairs. In the 6 years since we've been married, not a day has passed that he doesn't rise to greet me, hold me close (as if deeply grateful to have his wife in his arms, again, this new day), gaze into my eyes and make me feel as though he's been waiting for this moment all his life. He turns a good marriage to a great marriage by the sheer level of enthusiasm he brings to our love.

And I'm learning, from him, how meaningful it is to be positive, uplifting and wholehearted toward the people we care about and too often take for granted. How much we all need someone to be happy we called; to believe we are bright, talented and insightful;that we can overcome obstacles and face challenges with confidence; to believe we matter, deeply, to another human soul. What a gift.

I'm editing a book for my pastor and I came across a passage where he mentioned a variety of people who taught him a variety of people-skills in ministry. One taught him "how to serve" and another "how to communicate" and so on. Then he wrote, "Greg Johnson taught me how to love."

Indeed. My husband has taught me volumes about how to better love others, and he's done it without a word of instruction. He's done it by simply loving me with enthusiasm, every blessed day we've been given to share together.

If you have zest and enthusiasm you attract zest and enthusiasm.

Life does give back in kind.

Norman Vincent Peale


  1. Meeting you both at the Writer's renewal was one of the reasons I wanted to go. It didn't work out to make it. I live in Arlington.
    You are blessed to be married to someone who has a yes stance towards you and the world. The face of God. Lovely post, deeply honoring a respected man.

  2. You are so right....that enthusiasm.....the-loving-others-with-enthusiasm... that your husband displays is a gift! Something I long to receive myself. What an inspiration!

  3. Kathleen and Michelle, Thank you both so much for these kind comments!!! It's a joy to be married to a man I admire so much.

  4. This post really made me think, Becky. My husband is similar to Greg in his enthusiastic approach to others. As a child, my home life was not one that promoted that kind of positive approach, so although I appreciate the fact that I'm married to a man who SHOWS his love every day, it's still a foreign thing to me. I almost don't know how to react to such unabashed affection. The fact that you do makes me want to learn.

    Your classmate,

  5. Stacy.. I just saw this post (i've got to figure out to get them to go in my Inbox!)
    I'm so sorry your homelife didn't foster more optimism and joy but SO happy for you to be with a man who unabashedly shows his love for you! We can all stand to learn to love each other with a little less restraint and more generosity of spirit, I think. But none of wants to put our heart on our sleeves and have it knocked off... which happened to so many at a young age causing us to fear, I think, ever being completely open-hearted with others, sometimes even those we love the most.