Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Garage Door.


It happened before I realized it was happening. I pulled into the driveway, looked over, and I saw the garage door was open.

I sighed, and said to myself, "I'll freaking close it, geez. I have to do everything around here."

Then, as I walked over to do "everything," I saw something else. The Powerwheel was sitting there, half parked in the garage, half out.

I got even more upset. I gave the thing a half-hearted kick and shove, then yanked the door down. Angry, I walked into the house...

"Christ looked at this screwed up world, turned to the Father and asked, 'How can I help?' And God looked at him and said, 'Are you sure? Because you may not like what you have to do.'" - Andy Stanley

When I walked in, I slammed my keys a little too hard onto the rack, and I tossed my wallet on the refrigerator a little too hard. I made sure my face was good and screwed up so my wife would ask me what was wrong, and sure enough, she bit.

"Travis, what's wrong? You look mad."

"Alright, which one is this?" 
"This one is Travis Sloat, sin number 4,555,291. He looks at his wife and says something really dumb. Something he shouldn't say at all." 
"And I'm going to die for that?" 
"In order for this to work, you have to." 
"Alright, done. What next?" 
"Sin number 4,555,292: he uses several curse words while watching Duke play." 
"He's kind of an idiot, but man I love him." 

I opened my mouth.

"I'd like it if I didn't have to be the one that closes the garage door all the time. And the freaking Powerwheel was sticking out of it. Why can't you at least check that before I have to do it?"

The very second I closed my mouth I knew they were dumb. I realized how stupid it all was. I realized, that if I owned my piece of the pie, the reason I was mad was because all I wanted to do was come home and not be bothered by trivial stuff...like my kids...my kids and their stuff.


But I couldn't just back out of it. I needed to own that stupidity. I couldn't just have said, "You know what, I'm an idiot, and I'm sorry."

Now, sitting here, I realize something. There are people out there that would LOVE to have the opportunity to put their kids' toys away. They would love to come home, see something laying out, shake their heads and say, "Those crazy kids."

"This is for Travis, and sin number 4,555,291. This is for Travis, sin number 4,555,291. I love him. That's why I'm here. That's why they're beating me. That's why these thorns are on my head. This is for Travis, because I love him, even though he's an idiot, and even though he's not always thankful for what I've given him. This is for Travis, sin number 4,555,292..." 

"Travis, I'm sorry, I'll start making sure they put their stuff up and the door is closed."

What? What? This isn't what I wanted. I WANTED A FIGHT. I WANTED YELLING AND LOUD NOISES AND TRIVIAL THINGS TO BE BROUGHT UP. I DON'T WANT APOLOGIES.

"I think I ate your chocolate squirrel." 
I didn't want an apology because the second the words were out of her mouth, I realized what an absolute idiot I was. I realized that she loves me enough to try and fix something that isn't even her fault.

And I couldn't even find the ability to say "I forgive you." Not because of pride, not because of anything other than the fact that I AM SO STUPID, and THIS IS SO STUPID, and WHY ARE YOU MAKING HER APOLOGIZE FOR THIS YOU JACKASS. It's like saying the words "I forgive you," would have been even worse than what I said in the first place.

"Oh I forgive you because you spent all afternoon filling out paperwork for something incredibly important AFTER you spent all day molding young minds and AFTER you fixed dinner you might have wanted to just take a break instead of closing the garage door."

Right. That would have made it better.

And I'm the one sitting here now, remembering the blog I posted LESS THAN A WEEK AGO, about how I'm working on things, and here I am taking two steps forward, telling the world (the six folks who read this blog) about how I'm making progress, and then, BAM, three steps back.

What my "progress" feels like most days.
And I could just have easily not typed this, not written this up, and not left it here for those six people to see. But I can't do that. This is what you need to know about me. Because I'm sure there are others out there who struggle like I do, and who need to be reminded that it's an uphill struggle, but we do have hope.

"So what happens to Travis after a lifetime of imperfection?" 
"Well, he'll be forgiven because he accepted our gift." 
"Just like that? There won't be a giant scale weighing out his good and bad that ultimately determines where he'll spend eternity?" 
"Nope. Just you, standing in the gap between the real and the ideal."
"That sounds fantastic. He'll never make it on his own. Let's do this thing." 



Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Chips or: What I'm Working on in 2014.

Note to the reader: This may be a tl;dr post for you, and I don't want that to happen. If you want to get to the meat and potatoes of things, skip to "So here's what I've done." If you want a cute story about how my wife loves me, scroll down to the bit about chips. It may just make you interested enough to read the whole thing. 

I'm traditionally terrible at the New Year's Resolutions. For example, last year I decided I was going to lose a bunch of weight, read twenty-four new books, and try to become famous.

  • I lost about thirty pounds from January to April, then gained it back. 
  • I read 16 new books, and most of those were because of the Young Adult Lit. course I took. 
  • I became somewhat Internet famous after posting a certain picture online. 

Terrible.

So this year I didn't really have many resolutions. I kind of thought that I should eat healthier, but I probably won't. I mean, it's 2014, shouldn't we have calorie-free nachos by now? We're all looking at you scientists.

I just want to mention here that I am absolutely terrified about this Velveeta shortage happening right now. I know, I know, it's not real cheese, but that's neither here nor there. MY NACHOS WON'T BE MADE WITH CHEDDAR AND RO-TEL GUYS. I've called for President Obama to look into the situation, but I just about bet he's too busy with his "healthcare" to worry about it. 

I'd really like to get to those twenty-four new books, but I highly doubt that's going to happen, mostly because of my insane school schedule this year. I'd really like to have audio books widely accepted by literary circles as actual reading, but I honestly think that would be tougher than calorie-free nachos.

As for fame, I've kind of realized it won't happen for me because I'm not ready for it. I know that because the following thought has actually gone through my head:

"What if some famous Internet site actually offers me money for an interview because of the turtle picture? Would that be selling out?" 

I'm not even kidding about that. It's something I've spent at least an hour thinking about. An hour. A legit hour. So I don't think fame is right for me. I'll probably need to sort out a few priorities before the good Lord actually blesses me with real fame, and not just fame acquired by taking my shirt off on the Internet, a picture which, God help them, my children will probably find one day.

So what does one do then, if resolutions are not to be conceived in the new year? Does one set goals for themselves, which are resolutions cleverly disguised in a shorter word? Or does one proceed willy-nilly into the year, running amuck amongst the freedoms granted one by one not having tethered themselves to the "same old, same old?"


My hat is off to you if you understand that paragraph. If you sort of checked out after the first sentence, basically I'm asking if I should even try to set up some sort of guidelines for improving my life in 2014.

So here's what I've done. I've just decided that I want to work on a couple of things in 2014. I'm not saying I'm going to perfect them, I'm just saying I want to see if I can't improve them just a little bit. And here they are, in no certain order.

  • I want to work on my out of control consumerism. 
  • I want to work on rediscovering why I fell in love with my wife. 

Guys, I want stuff. I want guns. I want the latest Apple product. I want the Beats headphones. I want the brand new television. I want a new truck. I want, I want, I want. I am never satisfied, and I know that's not right.
Actually I want the new Hyperbole and a Half book too. 
It's something that really went out of control in 2013. Something, that if left unchecked, could possibly drive my family into financial collapse. I don't believe that a husband and father should do that to their family. And it's not just stuff. 

It's coming home and eating the food that my wife has cooked because if I make something else I'm essentially wasting food.

It's maybe not getting the brand-name body wash and shampoo, because that's extra money that could go into my gas tank. 

It's maybe not taking that extra trip to hang out with friends because that extra gas money could be used to get me back and forth to work a couple of times. 

It's saying no to people, even when I don't want to, because my family and their comfort are more important than my social life. 

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying at all that the occasional money wasted on good fun isn't something that can't be done. You should certainly enjoy those things once in a while. But can I cut back on them? Probably. Should I? Yes, it's something I need to work on. 

My absolute nemesis may make a repeat appearance in 2014. 
As for rediscovering why I fell in love with my wife, I'm slowly coming to the realization that I've wasted a lot of time over the past decade ignoring her. It's taking me meeting with a leader in my church to see it, and it's something that I've recently started working on. 

Instead of griping about the messy house, I've realized that God has blessed me with two hands and the ability to figure out the buttons on the dishwasher. 

Instead of demanding things from her, I've started asking "How can I help?" 

Instead of sending her text messages telling her things, I'm trying to talk to her more in person about the important things. 

Instead of staring at the television (even during a Duke game) or my phone, while she tries to talk to me about her day, I'm trying to pause the television or put down my phone and just listen, because she needs someone to talk to, and I'm the guy she picked to talk to.

And here's the kicker. Here's the bee's knees. Here's the wasp's nipples. Here, as Douglas Adams said, is the entire set of erogenous zones of every flying insect of the western world.

She bought me a bag of chips the other night. 

Now I can understand how you might see that as a bit of weird thing to say. "Chips?" you say. "How can a bag of chips help Travis understand the incredibly deep love his wife has for him? Has he gone off the deep end? Has his love for food so completely blocked his ability to think/blog that we're now forced to listen to his rambling about a deep fried potato?" 

And to that I say, just bear with me. And also, she doesn't know I'm blogging about this, so I may be in trouble. 

Here's why the chips were special. 

1. She knows I love chips — She was thinking about me. She saw something in the store and said, "Oh I think Travis would like that." 

2. We didn't really have the extra money to spend on them — We're strapped from Christmas like I'm sure most of you are, and we're trying to recover. But she did it anyway because she knew it would make me happy. 

3. She didn't let the kids touch them and she never asked for one or tried to grab a couple — She was completely selfless in the purchase. She could have easily allowed it to become a treat for the entire family, but she saved them for me. 

I was talking to my buddy during our weekly meeting this morning and I broke down when I told him about the chips. I think it hit me, at that moment, that this was one of the reasons I fell in love with my wife. Not because she buys me chips, but because she's seen me at my absolute worst, and still loves me enough to do the tiny things that she knows will make me happy. 

The thought occurred to me, that, in trying to rediscover why I fell in love with my wife, I may be inadvertently helping her discover why she fell in love with me. 

And that, my friends, is worth me trying to work on. 

I may not have resolutions for 2014, but if working on things helps me get a few more metaphorical bags of chips in this new year, then I'll take work over resolve every year for the rest of my life. 

What are you going to work on this year? 

My word I'm sexy. Also my wife, my wife is sexy too.