Putting up and speaking up | Mark’s Remarks

No matter how much I know and no matter how much I tell you what the Bible says about tolerance and turning the other cheek, I still have it within me to tell people what I think. It’s not deep down, either. It bubbles near the surface. It often feels much like that little feeling you get before you vomit.

And really, the advice or diatribe I feel I want to spew out is probably just as valuable as vomit.

One of my older friends told me I would start experiencing these things as I progressed through my 40s. Well, he was right. With each passing day, I say “OK, that’s enough,” and “you know, I’m getting really tired of that.”

Now, the sane and reasonable person would ask the Lord for strength. I have done that many times and it has worked every time; but rarely the way I want it to. Often, when I am really miffed at a person and I say a prayer about it, God will gently remind me that I am aggravated at the same characteristics I exhibit on a daily basis. But let’s not talk about me.

I hope that after almost half a century, I have finally learned to keep my mouth shut a little bit. At times. I do find it effective to just keep quiet these days. About some things. People say they are biting their lip.  To me, it’s as if I’m pulling my lip way down low and standing on it. It takes effort.

Still, there are folks I’d like to be blunt with. I want to say to some folks, “You know, I care about you and I’m going to still be your friend, family member, and colleague;” Well, you fill in the blank. And then, I’d like to say what I feel.

I want to tell a few parents I know that they need to stop making snide little comments and passive-aggressive suggestions to their children, especially if they are adults. I want to tell them they need to be focusing more on supporting their children and building them up.  I want to tell them I’ve watched kids grow up, leave home and not come and visit much. I’ve seen kiddos, who never get much encouragement from their parents, eventually turn to others. Then, when they have their own children, they don’t bring them around much either. After a while, parents need to learn to keep their mouth shut. Is that blunt enough for you?

I want to tell people to stop focusing so much on material things — especially those of us who call ourselves Christians.   We ought to be ashamed at how much emphasis we place on “stuff.”  There are so many of us who have spent many a year trying to get nicer things, bigger toys and a new outfit for every outing. Good, solid families are missing the boat in many cases when it comes to materialism.

It’s something I’ve noticed (and fallen victim to) for a long time.  I’m tired of seeing kids come to school, worried about their expensive shoes and designer outfits. It’s very silly.

I’d like to tell people to slow down and take time. You don’t need to be involved in everything. You don’t need to have thousands of Facebook friends (those of you who are “friends” with me will know what I’m talking about; but that’s another column) or be a member of every club in town. Your child does not need to play every sport. Slow down. Spend time with God. Invest in your family.  Cleave to your spouse. Get off the electronics. Have coffee with just a few old friends and keep in touch with those who matter most. Build relationships.

Yes, I have a lot I would like to say. It seems there is always something on my agenda. As you know if you’ve read this column, I’m not above looking myself in the eye and starting with myself.

I’d also encourage you to speak up. If you feel like you or your family are being mistreated, take a stand. You can be firm and tactful; your confrontation doesn’t have to be loud or ugly. Say what you need to say and go. Yes, sometimes it’s good to apologize up front and say “this is just the way I see it.

I could be wrong.” However, sometimes it’s best to just speak your mind and move on.

As I often say, what have you got to lose?

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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