#75. The Marriage Bully

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If you are a living, breathing, human being over the age of eighteen, there is a good chance you’ve been the victim of a marriage bully. If you are not a human being and read or subscribe to this blog, then I’d like to assure you SOS is a friend to all animals, aliens, inanimate objects and bots. If you are under eighteen, then you have been warned and can take proper measures to preempt the bullying that no doubt awaits you*. 

You see the marriage bully is the worst kind of bully. This person can intentionally or unintentionally put you in very uncomfortable situations. If you are in the single boat, you may get the occasional well intentioned but unwelcome comment.

“So Johnny, when are you going to find yourself a nice girl to marry?”

This might be annoying, but generally harmless.

The real zinger is when Great Aunt Mildred keeps bringing up the m-word with your boyfriend or girlfriend. This is the ultimate in awkward relational circumstances, especially when you and your squeeze are unsure of the relationship’s current status.

So what’s the pinnacle of this meddling messenger of marriage? The sad reality is that more often than not the bullied becomes the bully. It’s unfortunately much like hazing. You had to suffer through it, and now that you’re married, you just can’t wait for opportunities to stick it to your single or dating friends.

This is the kind of person I’m married to, a marriage bully of the worst kind. We were out with some friends when my wife jumped all over an incredibly weak and sketchy conversational segue: “Speaking of wedding cake… Huh??? Huh?? ;)”

It was embarrassing. My own spouse. A bully. I still can’t quite get my mind around it. How did it come to this? Was this a one time thing? Will more innocent singles have to suffer? I can hardly stand the thought.

Have you ever been the victim of a marriage bully? Have you victimized someone else?


*You can fight back against marriage bullying. Get married as soon as you turn eighteen. Better yet, many states have exceptions for marrying even younger with parental consent. Do yourself a favor. Don’t be a victim.

 

#74. A New Speech

Grad

I wanted to re-write a speech I gave ten years ago to see how my perspective and message has changed. A few days ago I posted the original speech I gave. If I had to give it again, it might look a little more like the following:

 

My Valedictorian Address Re-written (Ten Years Later) 

Sitting down to re-write this speech more than ten years after the fact, I thought it might be poetic and clever to parallel the original, but having been only recently familiarized with its position, it might be more interesting to compose something unique.

I can’t say that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time between that day and this replaying those words and moments, but in staying true to clichés, hindsight is certainly twenty-twenty. I never considered myself a particularly selfish individual, but my own words from the past betray my prideful heart. Thank God He is gracious to reveal my arrogance. I am quite certain I will look back in another ten years amazed at my self interest and failure to love other people and Jesus as much as I should.

So what is this “new” speech about? What do I wish to communicate? How can I use the next five minutes better than I did ten years ago? Did I get it all wrong back then? No. There was some good content. Memories, thank yous, hinting toward the Cross and a little advice. So how do you improve what is already good? Let’s give it a try…

Ten years ago Facebook did not exist. Facebook has allowed us to feel like we are still friends with people we rarely engage and interact with. Ashamedly I can easily count on one hand the number of my high school classmates I’ve had dialogue with (spoken or written) in the last five years. Of course I have tons of excuses. I live over seven hundred miles from my hometown. I wasn’t extremely close with that many of my high school friends. There were only thirty six people in my class to begin with. I have an incredibly busy schedule. All of those things might be true, but the simple truth is that I just don’t make the time to stay in touch. The same could be said for my college friends, and I often do a poor job of investing in the lives of my current friends, so for that I need to apologize and ask forgiveness. In the end memories fade, but relationships and your influence on someone’s life is what lasts. Focus on the people in your life. Don’t be so concerned with nostalgia, but instead be intentional, patient and loving in the community that you have specifically been placed.

I still want to thank the faculty and staff at Pawnee High, Jr. High and Grade School. For those of you who see your job as the mission field it is, to teach not only curriculum but character and to conduct yourself in such a manner that makes evident your interests are loving and educating students rather than just babysitting and taking three months off each year, we owe you a debt of gratitude. I challenge you to take seriously the duties you’ve been charged with and not shirk the responsibility of helping mold the next generation, because while you may do the child a disservice by omission, but you rob yourself through commission.

I want to thank my grandparents for your never-ending support, encouragement and complete spoiling of me. All four of my grandparents are now over eighty years old and still kicking! While that is quite an accomplishment in itself, their true legacy is without a doubt both their faith and commitment to one another in marriage. If my seventeen year-old self knew what my 28 year-old barely married two years self knows, he would say that he is quite certain times have not always been fun or easy living with the same person for sixty years, but the incredible pursuit of a life-long covenant relationship can not be overstated or over-celebrated. I love you all.

To my brother I would apologize for not being the example I should have been and for treating you poorly. Ten years later I can say without hesitation, that you are a good friend, and I am proud of the man you are becoming.

I would have thanked my future in-laws for raising my wife in a Christ-centered home and for being the kind of people who are generous, encouraging and a lot of fun.

While I haven’t lived with my parents for quite sometime, you are still the definitive source for my development of character and relationship with God. You tirelessly placed truth and kindling around me which God used to spark a passion and desire for Him. Your consistent and loving discipline is appreciated now more than ever. I love you guys.

And to my future bride, you will be an unending source of love, laughter and encouragement. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you, learning what it means to truly love and serve.

Just in case you missed it up until this point, I am a Christian, a follower of Christ. It seems evident to me through historic accounts as well as observation of man-kind and the universe that there is a God and that the Jesus of the Bible is His son. The entirety of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is the story of God reconciling the world to Himself. God’s ultimate goal is to make His glory known. Therefore, God is not interested in our begrudging submission to a laundry list of rules, because He would not be glorified in that. Instead, He is infinitely concerned with our joy which results in loving obedience. All have sinned, because even the smallest infraction against a holy and perfect God, is infinitely offensive and therefore deserves an equally infinite punishment and penalty, but grace provided a way to give us right-standing before a blameless God. Jesus Christ saved us from sin and death, a consequence we justly deserve. Jesus lived the perfect life we could not. He died on the cross for our sins and then rose from the dead. Now we can receive His righteousness and have eternal life as co-heirs with Christ. If you are not a believer in Jesus, if you have not put your faith in Him and call Him Lord and Savior, if you are a fan of Jesus but not a follower, I urge you to investigate and make a decision. Read the Gospel story: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. See for yourself if Jesus was who He said he was? He didn’t really leave the option to think He was just a good guy and a moral teacher. He claimed to be the Son of God. He was either an insane lunatic or He spoke the truth.

In conclusion I would like to give my classmates some final thoughts:

  1. Be generous with your time and money, and treat everyone with compassion and kindness.
  2. Your parents may not be right 99% of the time, but they are a great source of knowledge and wisdom.
  3. There will often be times that you will do your best, and your best won’t be good enough. Slow and steady just might lose you the race. You will never be the fastest, the strongest, the smartest or any other superlative adjective positive or negative. There is always someone better, and there is always someone worse. Don’t walk with a limp, but don’t walk with a swagger either.
  4. There will most definitely be good times and bad. God never promises blue skies and sunshine. What he does promise is Himself, and that is enough.

I pray God blesses you and keeps you and that He is glorified in your life.

Thank you.

 

#73. It’s All About Me

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The last several days/weeks have been frustrating. Oddly enough, I’m just now realizing it to some extent.

I had to travel to Houston for two weeks for work. I’m working on a pretty big project that is on an extremely accelerated time table, and pressure is beginning to roll downhill from upper management, through middle management, to the peons, including some of my co-workers and yours truly. It was hot in Houston, and it’s not really the place you want to be in the dead of summer, but all of that has been said on this blog, so refer back if you care to reminisce.

I’ve also been “dieting” with the help of My Fit Pal, and app for iPhone. I blogged about it when I first started about a month ago, and while it has been challenging, I have also seen some results (losing about 10 lbs in the first month!), but it’s definitely put a cramp in my style, particularly my dessert, snack and junk food style.

Maybe it’s just the beginning of the school year and the overflow of my wife’s schedule, or maybe it’s just coincidence, but my work, social and spiritual calendars have been surging these past few weeks. I feel like I’m in a constant state of flux and that I’m starting to neglect or just barely squeeze in relationships and responsibilities that somehow seem even more important when I have less time for them. Random tasks and odds and ends jobs get pushed to the fringe of my consciousness. Communication with my wife, family and friends is approaching an all-time low, if it’s not already there now. Even my dog, who typically does a great job entertaining himself, is seeming more restless.

Tonight this all culminated it several fits of what I thought was completely justified and righteous road rage toward wave after wave of nit wit drivers making the same vehicular mistakes over and over and over and over again in a colossal traffic jam stemming from a “brilliant” display of construction prowess. I’m pretty sure my limited experience in construction management and civil engineering gives me firm ground upon which I can stand and speak both authoritatively and definitively on this subject.

So what’s the point of all this? Well, obviously the point is me. Am I just stating facts or complaining about my circumstances or is it more than that? I will assure you I am not complaining. I realize I am blessed beyond reason, and I cannot even begin to fathom the common grace that God is currently extending to me much less the unwarranted but precious saving grace He provided through his son, but I digress. I may also be stating facts, but the problem is that it’s all about me.

When I place myself in the center of the universe, everything becomes a battle of me against the world. My work life becomes frustrating and draining. My food consumption becomes microscopic calorie counting. My relationships become chores carving out more of my precious time. Other drivers are intentionally driving poorly, conspiring to keep me from my dinner and sweet tea at McAlister’s Deli and making me late to church.

But when I place God at the center of my universe, everything becomes simplified. My customers and co-workers are people with lives and families not just numbers and deadlines. My healthy eating habits are not punishment, but are a way of stewarding the body God has given me. My relationships are interactions with other souls that Christ died for and has place in my life for His glory and my joy. Poor drivers are just careless fools who don’t watch what their doing or pay attention to their surroundings. (OK, so I’m still working on that last one.) The point is: I’m not the point. God is. And that’s incredibly freeing.

Is it all about you? What if it didn’t have to be?

#72. Ten Years Later

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Apologies to avid readers of SOS. I can only beg fogiveness for failure to post the last couple days and pray that this eloquent and verbose essay might serve as penance for my wayward wanderings.

While this post may not be strictly theological, it will certainly qualify as philosophical with spiritual undertones. This past May was the ten year anniversary of my high school graduation. I had asked my family to dig up some writing that I did back then. I suppose I should more correctly describe it as a speech. My grandmother was able to find a copy that had been saved, and I just recently received it in the mail. Although I can definitely see a resemblance in thought, I couldn’t help but notice some points that were a little weak, some theology that was a bit off and it lacked the tactful mixture of humility, confidence and boldness that my seventeen year-old self had not yet learned. So without presuming that I have fully learned those lessons, I want to re-write this from a fresh perspective after gaining ten years of experience and an underwhelming portion of wisdom. The Part 2 of this post will follow, but to keep it a reasonable length, I now present:

The Pawnee High School Class of 2001 Valedictory Address

By Garrett Sloman

When I sat down to write this speech, I just stared at a blank pad of paper. This was a speech I had waited to give for seven years.

You would have thought that over a seven year period I would have thought of tons of things to say, but as a fifth grader my goal to some day be valedictorian seemed a lofty one.

Well, that distant day has come, and I look back wondering where the time went.

I remember four short years ago sitting on this stage for eight grade graduation. Looking back it seems like those years have gone by in fast forward.

But a lot of memories have been made in this short time as well:

-Touch down tootsies and linen on the lawn at home football games.

-Thinking, “Man, that must have hurt!” after watching Ellie spike a volleyball at an opponent.

-Bon Fires both indoor and out.

-Doing every single portfolio project for Mrs. Wood freshmen year and spending countless Monday nights wishing the week would just end.

-Learning to study and do homework for a class the period before.

-Sitting down in Mrs. Rhoads class and being able to write five well developed paragraphs (Brainstorming, Rough Draft and Final Draft double spaced) about absolutely nothing.

-Realizing (due to early bird P.E.) that it is physically possible to wake up at quarter after seven and be in your squad place, or two steps from it, at 7:25.

-And then of course writing Valedictorian Addresses at 3 a.m.

Most of these things we have all experienced as a class, but tonight, this ceremony is the last memory we will all share.

Jessica Sheedy wanted me to ask you all to take a careful look at this class, because it is the last time you will likely see us as a whole.

Look at each face. It is not the same little boy or girl you saw in the video earlier this evening. The faces you see now are those of young men and women who are starting their adult lives right now.

I also have a few thank yous, which may have already been said.

-First, I want to thank Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior for creating me in his image, for blessing me with the intelligence I have and for his sacrifice on the cross.

-I want to thank the school staff for all of their time and effort, and especially Mr. Mings for opening his home to any and all students interested in an informal weekly Bible study.

-My grandparents for all of their encouragement and support.

-My brother for his input and help.

-And most of all my mom and dad for always being there. Your love and guidance is what has made me the self-confident and well-rounded individual I am today. I love you guys.

I also promised Kenna I would mention her in my speech, so Kenna, you’re awesome.

In closing, to my fellow classmates of 2001, I have eight things:

1. I wish you luck in everything you do.

2. Know that there will always be good times and bad, but true friends will be there for both.

3. Remember that like it or not, our parents are right 99% of the time.

4. In the future take responsibility.

5. Don’t make excuses.

6. Make wise decisions, and then act upon them.

7. You don’t have to be the fastest or strongest or smartest.

8. As long as you consistently give your best effort, you will be successful, because as the old saying goes, “Slow and steady wins the race.”

Thank you.

#71. Back to School Pity Party

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It’s that time of year again. If you are like me, you have a sizeable number of people in your life that live their life on the academic calendar year. You might even be one of those people yourself. If you happen to be one of those people that is still in school, then I envy you and pity you at the same time. If you are one of those people have chosen this life as a profession, then my envy slightly outweighs my pity. But the person I pity above all others this time of year is not the student, not the teacher, not the babysitters or daycare workers that have just lost 75% of their income, not even the truancy officers that have to track down delinquents and force them to better their future, it’s the commuter that has to drive through school zones in the morning. My pity for this person increases exponentially based on the number of school zones they must endure each day. I have no idea how a ten mile per hour reduction in speed can cause the frustration and mass hysteria that it achieves. The following are some thoughts that might be thunk while puttering through school zones this week:

1. Awe shoot! Flashing yellow lights! Is it 7:15 already?! I am sooo late. Stupid school zone. If I had left on time this morning, I would have missed this whole mess by 10 minutes.

2. Oh great! Here comes the crossing guard. She thinks she’s sooo important in that stupid little orange vest with her flimsy cardboard stop sign. I’ll tell her what she can do with that stop sign.

3. What?! She stopped traffic for ONE kid?!? This is rediculous. And of course he’s in a wheel chair. Can’t he wheel himself a little faster? Are you kidding me?! He just dropped his lunch box. Now he is just taunting me. “Taunt THIS Wheels! (gesturing out the window)” What nerve. Unbelieveable.

4. Oh hey, that’s Jim from my church small group in the lane next to me. I hope he didn’t see or hear what I just did or said. Oh thank goodness we’re moving again. Wait a second! Jim just cut me off! That jerk!! I’m sure he saw me and did that on purpose. I’m going to totally out him in front of everyone at church next week. He’ll never know what hit him. What a punk!

5. Dangit! Do I still have that Jesus fish on the back of my car? I meant to take it off at the end of the summer.

Do you suffer through school zones?

#70. Priority Fail

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Since we have visitors staying with us, I felt it was unnecessary to do some prewriting to compensate for my reduction in free time. That was obviously a mistake, so here I am blogging from my iPhone while watching The Lincoln Lawyer. This will be short and sweet.
We had a meeting this morning at work in which it seemed every project was being declared “priority” or “fast-tracked”. By the end of the conference call, it had become almost comical how the status of every job was more important than the last. As the light comedy and minor frustration of fast-tracked timetables and heavy workloads began to pass, the thought dawned on me, “If everything is given highest priority, then in reality, nothing has been given priority.”
What things do you give priority in your life?

#69. Cats and Dogs

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We heard a great sermon illustration on Sunday, so I thought I’d share it here. It seems so obvious, I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it.

Cat and Dog Theology:

Cats-

You feed, groom and, only when absolutely necessary, bathe your cat. Based on your obvious devotion and service to him, he concludes that he is god. You come home. He couldn’t care less. You are merely a slave to him, and any attention you receive will be on his terms and most likely for his benefit. You will spend a lifetime pursuing your cat, hoping that one day he will see the reality of his situation.

Dogs-

You feed, groom and, only when absolutely necesary, bathe your dog. Based on your obvious care and love for him, he concludes that you are god. You come home. He is as excited as the very first time you met. He wants to play with you and spend time with you. He goes wherever you go. He wants to be near you. You are his master, and he showers you with affection. He loves you, because you first loved him.

Are you a cat or a dog?