By Sam Lam
This entry is a reaction/response/reflection to this past Sunday’s sermon. You can listen to it right here.
The sermon was about being empathetic towards people. Instead of being a friend that goes “Oh, I feel sorry for you” when something bad happens, what about being the type of friend that engages in the situation, cries with one another and builds a haven of comfort?
That’s what the sermon was about and what stood out to me was the very ending of the sermon about a ball pit where strangers who would pass by saw an opportunity to just sit in the pit, meet someone new and just engage in a conversation. New friends were made and it wasn’t just surface level “Hi, hello” kind of stuff. It was real.
Do we have that kind of relationship with strangers? Probably not. It takes a few steps to break the ice with someone we don’t know. But what about people we do know, the ones we call friends? Are we just surface level or do we have that kind of a bond where we don’t just sympathize, but we empathize?
When thinking about this, there was this one quote that stood out to me from a documentary that I have watched over and over again.
“If you can get everyone to laugh together, you can get everyone to get serious together.” — Bill Walsh, former NFL head coach and three-time Super Bowl champion
In the documentary, the story was about the 1988 49ers team, a team that had high expectations but struggled for the first half of the season and were on the brink of missing the playoffs. Walsh, who was an innovative head coach and one who treated every player on the team like family, continued on with an annual bonding trip where the team would go fishing nearby at a lake. He called it the “fishing derby.”
It was a contest on who can catch the biggest fish. One of the player’s nickname was “Catfish” and every year, the team would laugh about catching that “Catfish” from the lake instead of a real fish. Laughter would always ensue when that joke came up. And afterward, they all got together and ate what they had caught.
For a sport that required everyone to be serious and focused, that one day of laughter was what was needed. That break to really enjoy one another inspired the team to truly care for one another. The 49ers would finish the season winning seven of their last eight games; the last game in dramatic fashion to capture the Super Bowl.
The quote has always stuck to me because the people whom I always have the best connections with when I need to be serious are the same people whom I have shared a lot of laughter with. It’s a great quality that all friendships must have. Through laughter, it not only relaxes the soul but also allows the people to be comfortable. Laughter is where I believe is how I open myself up to someone whom I want to share that moment with.
It’s with that quote, that I realize that my serious conversations with people, whether I’m dealing with an issue or vice versa, are the best conversations. Especially when it comes to conversations about relationships, faith, jobs and other problems that someone my age deals with.
There’s genuine care and concern. There’s great advice. There’s an offer to help. But most importantly, at least for me, it’s an ear that I need to speak to. They were there to laugh at my jokes, and they remained there to listen when I needed to say something.
That’s the relationship that we should try to build with one another. If it’s just surface level salutations, then that’s what it will just be. But if you take a moment to enjoy one another, share some laughs, you’ve opened up a chance to be real and make a friendship last forever. Do you have someone you enjoy sharing a laugh with? That’s probably the same person that you feel comfortable being serious with. And that’s how a beautiful friendship can remain strong.
Take a look around at the people who you know, or maybe someone you don’t know so well. God put them in our lives for a reason. So we can share a laugh together and open up so many possibilities for an eternal friendship.
Samuel Lam: Samuel is a Bay Area native living in Southern California working in sports media. He blogs on many topics, including sports, music, movies, travel and especially faith. Sam also runs his own personal sports blog on his free time. Check him out at:Green Eggs and Lam & But At The End Of The Day.