Sunday, August 24, 2014

Pep Talk: "Two Rams Butting Heads And Loving It"

Life is just weird sometimes, ain’t it?

Moments that begin less than ideal, somehow, someway, end up wonderful blessings. Ever had one of those? I sure hope, “Sure,” was muttered by many in response to that question.

Had one just the other day. Roaming the halls of the Denver Rescue Mission encouraging the guys there to join the “A Stronger Cord” workout up the road at Phoenix Multi Sport.

One guy, fit and strong-lookin’, walks up and says, “I’m willing to go, but I ain’t doing no team workout.” The ASC program starts with the workout. A team workout. No head phones, no slinking off on your own to work on biceps or whatever. We’re together. To steal a phrase from a great team, the 1989 football Colorado Buffaloes, “One Heart Beat.”

So I’m barking “Come on, let’s go sweat” with another dude barking into my ear “I’m going, but doing my own thing.” It was two stubborn knuckleheads digging in. It was getting a little tense. One of the Mission employees, a reasonable man who had seen it all unfold, popped out of a nearby chair with a warning: “Easy, guys.”

Quickly thereafter, the ASC Platoon headed out the door and jogged the three short blocks to Phoenix, a wonderful gym in downtown Denver. It’s dedicated to serving those in recovery. Great spot. Great people. Great purpose.

Anyway, we have our usual workout with the one confrontational guy not among us. The folks at Phoenix share ASC’s commitment to group workouts. NOBODY comes in that gym and works out alone. It would violate the spirit of the place. It’s kinda like life, folks; to thrive we must work well together. Unity with others is a good thing. Trying to do it alone is what usually gets us into knucklehead moments that are later regretted. So, considering fit and strong-lookin' dude’s attitude, he was on the outside looking in.

An hour later the workout is over. The ASC team is jogging back to the Mission. In the corner of my eye appears the perceived nemesis. He maneuvers next to me, keeping pace. He begins to apologize for being obstinate earlier in the day. I responded, “Hey, no problem, buddy. I can be as stubborn as the best of them. No harm, brother.”

We continue to chat as we jogged the final steps to the Mission. He offers, “I’ve been sober for 48 hours, coming down off meth, and have anger issues I gotta work on. I’m an Aries and stubborn as hell.”

My eyes widened with curiosity. “You’re an Aries? What day?” Fit and strong-lookin’ dude says, “April 14.” A great big grin spreads across my face. We’re now back at the Mission. There are tons of homeless guys hanging outside the facility waiting for the doors to fly open for the evening meal. Fit and strong-lookin’ dude and I are engaged in an animated conversation. Disturbing their peace perhaps. Anyway, I share that my birthday is April 13.

Both of us born an Aries, in April, one day a part.

“Give me a head butt,” shouts my newfound friend. “That’s what Rams do!”

I didn’t hesitate a bit. It was a solid bump, but nothing drastic. We then hugged like long-lost pals. The next day at chapel service, I forgot my reading glasses. Fit and strong-lookin’ dude offered his to help this aging jock read some stuff from Proverbs about wisdom.

A few minutes later, while driving home through Denver’s afternoon rush-hour traffic, I was reflecting on what had transpired. Life and its weirdness.

A moment in time had started quite combatively, but in this case had transformed fairly quickly into a bond that I hope is never broken. I hope that fit and strong-lookin’ dude trusts that I have his best interests at heart and expect the same in return.

That’s how we build relationships. I don’t care if we’re talking homes, businesses, churches, non-profits, sports teams or whatever’s been forgotten, building winning teams starts with relationships built upon mutual respect for one another.

Easy to talk about, far harder to achieve. I get it. People will disappoint us. We will disappoint people. Life is a roller coaster with plenty of dips. But let’s keep talking to one another. Relationships don’t always get off to a great start, right? But, what’s that ol’ saying? “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish!”

Perhaps this is the lesson: Seek to understand.

A fit and strong-lookin’ dude and a simple dude from Missouri are living examples of that truth. Two rams. Butting heads and lovin’ it. We kept at it - seeking to understand.

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