Valentine’s Day in our family is a fairly important day! The tradition is that I get cards for my bride, Valerie, and my sons, as well as my grandson. I was really excited about the card for my grandson, Josiah, because not only did he get a big balloon with a stuff animal that was a turtle (in honor of his joy with the Teenage Ninja Turtles), but he also was getting a gift card for fifteen dollars to Subway and I had written in the card that he was to use this in order to take his mommy out to a special lunch! It was an awesome “Grandpa Moment” to be able to see his reaction when he received the card. He hugged me and Valerie and repeatedly stated how he loved us and he appreciated his card. Matter of fact, he said that he appreciated his card so much that he was going to sleep with it so he could remember – in his own words: “How loved he is by his PAPA and MEMAW!”
The next morning he got up and he said to me, “PAPA!” “I want to use my card to take you and MEMAW out for a special lunch to say thank you for loving me so much!” I was touched by his desire to do this but then I kicked into logical, linear thinking Grandpa mode and told Josiah that I am thankful that he wants to do this but I know that he loves me and the card his for him and his mommy to have a special lunch together. The rest of the morning Josiah kept repeating what he wanted to do and I kept repeating the same thing back to him. My wife (who is MEMAW) used her special Grandma powers of intuition and privately went up to me and said, “Al, Josiah really wants to do this for us and it is important to him.” Her words cut through my logical rationalism and struck my heart to the point that – I GOT IT! I went to Josiah and said, “Hey buddy- I know this is real important to you taking PAPA and MEMAW to lunch so let’s do this – you can use your card to treat us and I will buy another card for you to take your mommy to lunch.” He pondered this new concept that his PAPA just presented to him and then he responded, “Okay PAPA that sounds good!”
Later that day we all got into the car and drove off to the local Subway Shop here in Lincoln, CA. It was really crowded and so we had to wait in line and there was Josiah holding onto that gift card with a big smile on his face. Josiah turns to the man behind us in line and reaches his hand out saying, “Hello, my name is Josiah Soto – What is your name?” Obviously impressed with how my grandson reached out to take his hand the gentleman shook hands with Josiah told Josiah that his name is Bob.” Josiah then told this gentlemen, “Today, I am going to be a man and treat my PAPA and MEMAW to a special lunch because they are always nice to me and they love me.” Bob graciously responded back to Josiah, “You are a man and that is really good that you are doing this for your grandparents.”
We got our lunch and went home to eat it and Josiah kept asking me,” PAPA did you like your lunch?” I would hug Josiah back and say to him, “Thank you it was the best lunch that I have had in such a long time because it came from you!” I will always remember this moment with my grandson and it reminded me of a simple and powerful truth: “When we listen with our heart and not just with our head one can begin to hear and understand what another person’s passion is as it relates to their desires for relationship.” This matters even for people like my grandson because he wanted to graduate and exercise some new emotional muscles and one of these behaviors was he wanted to show is gratitude toward me – his PAPA.
The miracle of this Valentine’s Day that took place at a Subway Sandwich shop in Lincoln, California, was my grandson was able to express his gratitude in a meaningful way to his PAPA and MEMAW, and I was able to have my heart increase its capacity to possibly begin to understand how the prophet Zephaniah declares how the Lord feels about us when he writes, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness (3:17).” I get it now as I listen to His heart. This PAPA knows that his Heavenly Father loves us so much that his pleasure gives us permission to graduate to know levels of emotional and spiritual growth. It is all a part of the journey!
I do not know who wrote this but here is my final take-away: “The most useful asset of a person is not a head full of knowledge but a heart full of love with ears open to listen and hands willing to help.” Thank you Josiah for teaching PAPA the language of the heart!