Thursday, January 10, 2013

"I'll take a compliment, with a side of hyperbole. Thanks"

Two years ago, I gave a talk in church, Naturally, I worked hard on it, as would anyone so asked. Afterwards, several people told me it was a good talk. Some even hugged me and said it was a ‘great’ talk. But not Sean Stapley. Such an ordinary compliment wasn’t in his vocabulary. He was the Executive Secretary in our ward at the time and after the block of meetings he said, “We had a vote in bishopric and decided that since you did such an incredible job today, you are going to be speaking every Sunday for a long time.”  

Yeah, it’s been over two years. I haven’t spoken in church since, but you can bet I haven’t forgotten Sean’s words. 

Last summer, the Stapleys took us out on their boat, as I’m sure they have taken just about every family out. I know his middle name is Christopher, but it should be “generous”. The same goes for Lori. They should have been called Sean and Lori “Generous” Stapley. But, I digress. 

We were out on the lake and it was my turn to try my hand at wake boarding. I’m not a talented water-skier. The same extends to wake boarding, surfing, etc. Eventually, I get up, but it’s all teeter-tottering and wobbling from getting up to colorful crash. So, the first time I tried wake boarding, I put my left foot forward. I got up for a few seconds, and then inevitably fell. The next time, I got up with my right foot forward, since it hadn’t felt comfortable at all the other way around. Again, I was up for a few shaky seconds before my face imprinted on the surface of Saguaro lake. I had about had it by this time, so I called for them to come around and haul me aboard. When I did, I was greeted with non-stop praises from Sean. 

“You amaze me! You are so talented!” He exclaimed, to which I replied, “What do you mean? You mean my falls were off the chart?” “No, he said, you can ski switch-foot! I’ve never seen anything like that at all! You are incredible!” He went on to explain what switch-foot was (being able to board with either foot forward). For the rest of the afternoon, he kept shaking his head in apparent disbelief and telling my kids, “Do you have any idea how talented your mom is?”  Remember, I had simply tried out boarding both ways because NEITHER way felt easy or comfortable. But, he went on an on about how amazing I was, that by the end of that summer, you could have overheard me bragging to my nephew up in Utah how I can board ‘switch-foot’.

That was one of Sean’s gifts. He made you feel worth ten times what you felt about yourself. And he made sure you remembered it. His compliments contained hyperboles and a dash of exaggeration to make sure you knew how great you really were in his eyes. Can you imagine having someone like that? That builds you up, up, and up? No wonder there is an uninhabited part of our souls now that he has returned to his Father above. No wonder we miss him. What a treasure of a person he was. What a fortunate lot we were to have known him. To have been the recipients of his compliments. 

I bet he’d want us to carry on his tradition of complimenting big, brash and bold. To make sure the recipient knows how valued they are. So here is my challenge to you. The next time you go to compliment someone (and I truly hope that is at least by tomorrow), exaggerate it. Add a dash of embellishments. Make it a compliment they won’t forget easily. Make it a Sean Stapley compliment. 


Lisa Andrews said...

This is beautifully written, Jennie. Such a wonderful tribute to your friend. Although I never met Sean, after reading this, I wish I had.

Marilyn said...

Jennie your writing lights up the darkest room brighter than a solar flare! It reaches down into my soul and draws out a smile that blooms on my face and grows broader as it is watered by my falling tears. I am honored to be your sister in the gospel as well as in this earth life.

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