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I Have This Hope
“Please, Lord. Please…”
I silently said this prayer over and over during the first few years of my marriage.
I prayed it as my wife and I saw pregnancy announcement after pregnancy announcement pop up all over Facebook.
I prayed it as we played our favorite game — “What will we name our children?” — less and less frequently.
I prayed it every time I saw the sadness in my wife’s eyes.
Being a Mom was her lifelong dream. And as we entered years two, three, and four of our marriage; her dream had turned into a question…
“Will I ever become a Mom?”
Today, with our daughter Hope’s first birthday on the horizon, my wife likes to tell people we chose her name because “her Daddy never lost hope.”
“He never stopped believing,” she will tell them. “He never had doubts.”
But I did.
I did have doubts. I did worry. I did wonder.
If not for the still small voice in my head, the voice telling me everything would be okay, I would not have been the steady, stoic presence my wife needed me to be during this trying period.
Society tells us men have to be tough. That we have to laugh at fear and roundhouse kick worry in the face.
But we can’t do it alone.
What my wife saw as a husband with relentless conviction was simply a man who’d been given persistent, continuous reassurances by God that everything was going to be okay.
I was strong because He made it so.
Whenever my wife says our daughter’s name, she’s reminded of her husband’s seemingly-unwavering faith.
I like that.
But what I like even more is that when I say our daughter’s name, I’m reminded of all the times God conquered my fears so I could help my wife conquer hers.
Tweetable TakeawayIf you want to be the man your family needs you to be, pray that it be so.Click To Tweet
The Reason We Fail
For many of us, the reason we don’t succeed has nothing to do with being good enough, strong enough, or talented enough.
Sadly, it’s because we don’t even try.
At my gym, there are spray bottles of cleaner and paper towels throughout the facility. People are supposed to use them to wipe down the equipment after each use. Some do, some don’t, but that’s a story for another day.
There’s an older gentleman who, after wiping off a piece of equipment, rolls the paper towel into a ball and throws it into the nearest garbage can.
Or, at least he tries to throw it into the nearest garbage can.
I’ve seen this man at the gym every morning for 3 straight months. And I’ve never seen him successfully shoot his tiny basketball of paper into the garbage can hoop.
He’s missed every single time.
The first time I saw him do this, I thought: “Boy, that must be embarrassing.” I was sure he’d never try it again.
But then he tried again the next day. And the next day. And the next.
Each time he misses, and each time he walks up, picks the ball of paper up off the floor, and drops it into the garbage can.
But he doesn’t droop his shoulders. He doesn’t look embarrassed. He doesn’t offer the slightest bit of indication he just failed at something — and in a public setting, no less.
Instead, he confidently marches to the next exercise machine so he can begin the dance anew.
Someday, this man is going to make the shot. Someday, he isn’t going to miss. True, it’ll be a (very) small victory. But it’s a victory he wouldn’t have been able to enjoy had he done what most people would have done in his shoes…
Most people would’ve quit after failing the first time. Heck, most people wouldn’t have tried to take the shot in the first place.
Whether it’s trying to turn your dream into your livelihood, asking your boss for a raise, or shooting balls of paper into garbage cans; you can’t succeed if you aren’t willing to try and fail.
Because you will fail. A lot. You’ll fail many, many more times than you’ll succeed.
But, eventually, you’ll do it.
As hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
The gentleman at my gym takes this advice to heart.
And he’s a better man because of it.
Tweetable TakeawayYou can’t succeed if you aren’t willing to try and fail.Click To Tweet
On Money & Family
“Everyone needs money. That’s why they call it money.”
This quote, uttered by Danny DeVito in a movie few saw and even fewer remember, makes no sense. And yet, it makes perfect sense.
That’s because money is both logical and illogical. It’s both good and bad. It’s selfish and altruistic, sensible and nonsensical, right and wrong, all at the same time.
And for many men, money is either a lifelong obsession or something that makes us shout “lalala I can’t hear you” right before we stick our head in the sand.
Both extremes are dangerous.
With the former, we spend time playing with numbers in spreadsheets when we could be playing with our children in tree forts.
With the latter, we let fear or ignorance — or a combination of the two — set us and our family on a lifelong journey filled with financial hardship, tears, and frustration.
Most men, in order to avoid the latter, tend to lean too far towards the former.
And that’s not, in itself, wrong.
It’s okay to want your family to be comfortable. It’s okay to use your God-given talents to their fullest so you can retire early.
But when you fixate on these things, when you allow them to consume you, you end up missing out on the things that really matter.
What’s the point of working hard so your family can be comfortable if it means your children never get to know you? What’s the point of retiring early so you and your wife can travel if the quest for early retirement makes your wife feel unloved and unimportant?
Whichever way you lean, obsession or head in the sand, one of your jobs as a husband and father is to find the right balance when it comes to money.
Take care of your business without it taking over your life.
It’s a balance I try to find every single day…
I distinctly remember how great it felt to hold a $1 bill for the first time as a child.
And as an adult, holding money in my hand still feels great.
It just can’t hold a candle to holding the hands of my wife or baby girl.
Tweetable TakeawayWhen you fixate on money, you inevitably miss out on the things that really matter.Click To Tweet
Get What You Need
In a few weeks, my place of employment will shift from an old, rundown building on one side of town to a nice, new building on the other.
My entire team is excited about it. What we aren’t excited about is the whole “prepping to move” thing.
Desks need to be cleaned out. Papers need to be shredded. Boxes need to be moved. To say it’s hindering our productivity would be a massive understatement.
(Earlier today, I found a memo from 2005. Why did I hold onto it? Did it strike me as funny at the time? Did I keep it in case I ever wanted to spit out some gum? Was it a magic memo that promised to grant me three wishes? And if the latter, where are my millions of dollars, my 1966 Ford Mustang, and my ability to turn invisible?)
But I digress.
Much of the furniture in our current building isn’t coming with us, so everyone on my team is staking claim to things they’d like to take home.
Seen video of Black Friday shoppers? It’s a lot like that.
People are claiming bookshelves. They’re grabbing keyboards and monitors. They’re picking up everything that isn’t bolted down.
I never knew cork boards were in such high demand until I announced, “anyone want these cork boards?” If I hadn’t jumped out of the way, I’d have been trampled by a stampede.
Since we love a good freebie, I asked my wife if there’s anything in the building she’d like to bring home.
Did she want any of the electronic equipment? No.
Did she want any computer desks? Nope.
Did she want an over-sized wall clock? Nada.
She wanted a bookshelf.
“Because we have lots of books and nowhere to put them.”
Forget the Wants. What do you Need?
It’s easy to be mesmerized by gadgets and gizmos. It’s easy to be dazzled by glitter. It’s easy to succumb to want.
It’s so easy, we spend our lives running around grabbing all the things we want while missing the things we actually need.
We don’t need the latest, greatest tablet. We don’t need a fancy car. We don’t need shoes that lace themselves.
Stop chasing those things for two seconds. Sit still, close your eyes, and ask yourself two very simple questions:
“What do I need? What does my family need?”
And that answer that jumps immediately to mind?
That’s what you should be chasing.
Tweetable TakeawayStop chasing the wants. Focus on the needs.Click To Tweet
Jumping Jack Man
You see a lot of interesting characters when you go to a gym early in the morning.
There’s the guy who sounds like he has a hernia. There’s “how do I use this machine?” man. There’s the lady who talks loudly on the phone while slowly walking on a treadmill.
(I like to imagine there’s a lot of “why do you keep calling me?” and “do you have any idea what time it is?” on the other side of those phone conversations.)
And then there’s my favorite character…
Jumping Jack Man.
Jumping Jack Man likes to do push-ups and sit-ups. He likes to get on the floor and stretch. He likes to grab a dumbbell in each hand and walk across the gym with big, exaggerated steps.
And, he likes to do jumping jacks. Every few minutes he’ll stop what he’s doing and start doing jumping jacks.
The thing Jump Jack Man doesn’t seem to like is exercising on any of the machines.
I’ve seen him at the gym dozens of times, but I’ve yet to see him use any of the equipment. Not an elliptical… not a bench-press… not even the awkward adductor/abductor machine that looks like it was designed by an obstetrician.
Jumping Jack Man pays good money every month to come to the gym and do exercises he could easily do at home.
That’s why on numerous occasions I’ve debated whether or not to walk up to him, tap him on the shoulder, and ask: “You realize jumping jacks are free, right?”
The How Doesn’t Matter
The truth is it doesn’t matter whether or not Jumping Jack Man uses any of the gym’s equipment.
He’s exercising. That’s what’s important.
Every morning he’s getting out of bed, coming to the gym, and working out. He’s fitter and healthier because of it.
Could he do all these exercises at home? Could he do jumping jacks in the comfort of his living room? Sure.
But there’s likely a good reason why he isn’t.
Maybe he doesn’t want to wake his family? Maybe he lives in an apartment building and he doesn’t want his jumping to bother the neighbors? Maybe he needs the environment only a gym can provide to motivate him to work out?
Whatever the reason, he’s doing it.
And his heart, and undoubtedly his family, thank him for it.
What about you?
How you work out doesn’t matter.
Take a break and go for a walk. Get up from your desk and do some push-ups. Join a gym and do some jumping jacks.
All that matters is you do it.
Do it for your heart. Do it for your family.
Heck, do it for Jumping Jack Man.
Tweetable TakeawayIt doesn't matter how you exercise. Just exercise.Click To Tweet
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