I am a tattoo fan.
I like looking at pictures of interesting tattoos, I like getting tattoos, and I like coming up with complex tattoos that have a deeper meaning than they display.
I have only three though, the most recent being my kids’ names on my calf that I got on Sunday.
I have a philosophy behind tattoos that I think might anger a few people, but here goes:
I’m not going to put anything on my body that I wouldn’t be able to stand before the Lord and at least try to defend. That’s been my rule of thumb for all three tattoos, and I’ve had imaginary conversations with Jesus before getting each of them.
“Okay Jesus, this one is of each of my brothers, and I know it’s got cards, but it’s a play on words see, four of a kind, Sloats. That’s it, it’s family, I think You think family is pretty important, not more important than You, but still pretty important, so I just want You to know that that’s why I got this thing.”
“Travis, shut up for a second.”
“Have you accepted my gift of salvation?”
“You’re in. Come on.”
Now let’s move past this digression and get on to the show, which is my tattoos and their meaning.
|Tattoo Number One
Art by Brad Sloat, Ink work done by Spaded and Jaded
This is the tattoo I was referencing in my hypothetical conversation with the Lord. It’s a riff on the four of a kind hand in poker, and since there are four Sloat brothers, we thought it would work, and I think it does. Here’s the thing though. We came up with this tattoo while we were in Florida in 2008. Three of us were old enough to get tattoos, and we had Brad come up with the drawing. He did really well I think.
But here’s the kicker (heh). All of us swore we would get the tattoo. “Yeah Travis, we’ll get it. Let’s all get it, it’ll be awesome.” Josh was like fourteen at the time, and he was pressuring mom to sign for him to get it, like that could even happen, but we were in Florida and just assumed U.S. Law was no good there.
So we get back to Oklahoma, and I got mine done. I think it looks good. I love what it stands for.
Do me a favor the next time you see one of my brothers and ask them to show you this tattoo. Just do it. Just ask.
|Tattoo Number Two (and my breast, sorry)
Art by Thomas Blackshear II, Ink work by Squiggy at Just Another Hole
This tattoo really has a special meaning for me.
It’s of a painting called “Forgiven” by Thomas Blackshear II. The painting depicts Christ holding a man who is holding a hammer and a nail, which is obviously a representation of man putting Christ on the cross.
Underneath, I added the words, “The Beauty of Grace is that it Makes Life not Fair.” These are lyrics from Relient K, in their song “Be My Escape.”
I love that quote, and there is a story behind the image as well. You see, I first saw that painting in Mardell’s in Tulsa. I walked in to the store, was browsing through something or other, and I saw this painting. To date, it is the only work of art to make me cry upon first sight. I broke down. What it represents is powerful.
I’ve screwed up a lot. More than I care to admit. More than I will admit. And that image, to me as a Christian, is the allegorical equivalent of driving the nails into my Savior. And to see that He loves me enough to hold me as I do that…it’s incredible.
|Tattoo Number Three
Art by my children, Ink work by Caleb at Black Gold
Like I mentioned above, I got my third tattoo this past Sunday at Black Gold in Tulsa. I’d like to say this, out of all my tattoos, this one hurt the most. I’m almost positive there’s a metaphor there, as in my children hurt me the most because they’re at ages where they make me want to scream. But it seriously felt like Caleb was sawing my leg off. He kept saying things like, “Just breathe, we’ll get through this…”
My initial idea was to have my children draw the tattoo. Then Aven handed me a drawing of four playing cards with the kids’ names on them, and I knew I was asking them to do too much. Keeli wanted me to get “Okay Mustangs” and Jeremiah 29:11. That’s a heck of a combination.
So after a bit of deliberation, I decided to create my own design and get their names in it. Then I thought, “What the heck, let’s just get their names in their own handwriting.” Well, as you can see, with Aven and Akeeli that was fine. Drake on the other hand, well I guess he writes in Hebrew.
You can’t tell in the picture, but I also asked them what color of ink they wanted it done in. Aven picked black, Keeli was blue, and Drake said purple. Surrounding their names is the scripture reference Jeremiah 29:11, which was my dad’s favorite bible verse and says this: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.”
I love that verse. I love that my children are obviously part of God’s dynamic plan for my life. I struggle daily to keep my cool with them, and to treat them the way that they need to be treated. I get angry more often than not, I think because I hold them to too high a standard. I need to work on that.
However, I love them. They are a permanent part of my life now. And if the Lord asks me to defend any of my tattoos, I think I’ll have an argument. Not that I’ll argue with the Lord. I wouldn’t dare.
Love you guys.
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.
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.”
Sorry I’ve been a posting dud here lately. I’ve just been very busy! I got a new tattoo today. A bit of a back story on it. I saw the painting in a Christian bookstore a few years back and the second I saw it, I started crying. I don’t preach much on here, because it’s not what this is for. But to me this painting summed up what I think is Gods entire collection of feelings for us. The painting is called “Forgiven.” That being said, here’s the pic!The words underneath read: The Beauty of Grace is that it makes life not fair.
I love it!
I’m going fishing tomorrow with a 16 year old foreign exchange student from Brazil. We’ve been once and nothing exciting happened. Hopefully tomorrow will be the day!