Have you ever read a book and been so moved by the emotions it stirs up in you that you want to share it with everyone you know? For me that book is “Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World” by Bob Goff.
I was first introduced to Bob through Donald Miller’s “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.” He was portrayed as Don’s inspirational friend, “the best real life storyteller,” who helped Don see the joy in life when you live your life like a story. I remember back when reading A Million Miles: “this guy Bob knows what love is all about.”
Well actually, Bob believes “Love Does” and wrote a book about just that, how we do love. It’s anchored in our behavior and how we treat one another. “Love Does” is a series of stories from Bob’s life, simply put, about how loving others is all about just being with people and doing things for one another out of pure joy.
I’m just going to highlight a few sections from the book then urge you to pick it up and experience these beautiful stories for yourself, to see that people like Bob Goff actually exist. He will make you rethink any thought you’ve ever had about the capacity for good and evil in this world. If there are people like Bob still out there, there’s hope. He shines the light of Jesus as brightly as I’ve ever seen it, so much so that it easily cuts through all the darkness. He is a disciple of Jesus Christ is the truest form.
First things first, Bob is a lawyer. Not exactly the first profession one would think of when you read about the grace and love he bestows upon the people he meets. But he’s not just any lawyer… he’s a lawyer who meets with clients and friends on Tom Sawyer’s Island at Disney Land. Bob says, “Tom Sawyer Island is a place where I conspire with people, where immense capers have been launched, and where whimsy runs wild. The return address for many of the stories you’ll find in this book is, in fact, that pier on Tom Sawyer Island.” As someone who vacations at Disney World often, by this point he's got my full attention!
Bob opens chapter one of the book with the quote, “I used to want to fix people, now I just want to be with them.” This speaks volumes to the kind of life Bob lives. For Bob it’s all about the relationship, being together, experiencing life together.
At one point in Bob's life, he helped a young man, a perfect stranger named Ryan, use Bob's porch and boat to design an elaborate plan to propose to his girlfriend. The young man asked Bob for his help out of the blue and then kept coming back asking for more. Bob didn’t hesitate and got right on board with every request. By the end, Bob turned the tables and surprised the young man with fireworks when the young woman said yes. Bob saw the opportunity for whimsy and ran with it. He saw the joy in the eyes of the young man as he was trying to create the grandest gesture of love so his girlfriend would say “yes.”
“Ryan’s love was audacious. It was whimsical. It was strategic. Most of all, it was contagious. Watching Ryan lose himself in love reminded me that being 'engaged' isn’t just an event that happens when a guy gets on one knee and puts a ring on his true love’s finger. Being engaged is a way of doing life, a way of living and loving. It’s about going to extremes and expressing the bright hope that life offers us, a hope that makes us brave and expels darkness with light. That’s what I want my life to be all about—full of abandon, whimsy, and in love. I want to be engaged to life and with life.”
Bob’s sincere love for people throughout the book becomes contagious. It makes you want to hear more stories of authentic relationships, taking risks, going on adventures, and finding joy, and figure out how to do that in your every day life.
This book has so many other beautiful, encouraging stories, including how Bob and his wife (who he tenderly calls “Sweet Maria”) helped their children to write to ALL of the world leaders after September 11th, and how many of them actually invited the children travel to their countries to meet them. Bob and Sweet Maria gladly chauffeured their children around the world for this once in a lifetime opportunity to the chagrin of their teachers. In fact, the children became friends with many of the leaders, and one of the leaders wrote back after meeting with the children and asked if they could come over for a sleep over and they did.
“Something happens when you get engaged, doesn’t it? It changes everything. And the friendships made during those early days by the kids continue to this day and have dramatically expanded. Why? Because they were authentic friendships; there were no angles, no plan in particular other than to be friends. There was no agenda either; there was nothing on the other side of the equals sign to make it balance—just us. And it was all about whimsy, but it was a strategic whimsy on the kids’ part, one that was wise beyond its years.”
There is also an incredible story about how Bob inexplicably became the lawyer for Uganda and began helping to save children from trafficking and brothels. There is nothing in the world that will keep Bob from traveling across the world to be where he wants to be, with the people he wants to be with.
Bob’s philosophy in Love Does can be summed up in this quote, “Perhaps that’s why Jesus is sometimes called Immanuel—“God with us.” I think that’s what God had in mind, for Jesus to be present, to just be with us. It’s also what He has in mind for us when it comes to other people.”
Bob is so committed to being present and available for others that he put his actual phone number in the back of the book so anyone can call him anytime… not his publicist or his office number, but his real home number. He also has said he always answers his phone when someone calls (unless he’s on the other line). I’ve heard that he doesn’t have a calendar and doesn’t make appointments so he’s available any time someone wants to be with him.
Being present is at the heart of Love Does.
Throughout the course of these stories, one thing is glaringly apparent... Bob keeps saying YES. He brings courage and a sense of wonder to every possibility in his life.
"I get the invitation every morning when I wake up to actually live a life of complete engagement, a life of whimsy, a life where love does. It doesn’t come in an envelope. It’s ushered in by a sunrise, the sound of a bird, or the smell of coffee drifting lazily from the kitchen. It’s the invitation to actually live, to fully participate in this amazing life for one more day. Nobody turns down an invitation to the White House, but I’ve seen plenty of people turn down an invitation to fully live."
I’m so glad I read this book! It has inspired me to step outside my comfort zone and be fully present with the people in my life. As an introvert that can be especially hard sometimes, but I really have no excuse to say no to the invitation of complete engagement and whimsy, especially if I desire to live the life God has called me to live, one of love. I know if you take the time to read this book, you will be inspired to change the way you interact with people and begin saying yes to living life to the fullest.
Before you leave this site, please check out this amazing video of a group of teenagers calling Bob Goff for his wisdom, and see the joy that his presence with them, even over the phone, brings to their life. There's also another video, of Bob Goff himself explaining the premise of Love Does.