So, I did a thing. It’s a thing I have thought about for a LONG time. It was not a thing I did on a whim, but rather after much thought and prayer. Last Thursday, I got a tattoo. To many, getting a tattoo is not a big deal. It seems like most people have one or plans of getting one. For me, it was a big deal. It was a big step. One I never thought I would have the courage to take.
I have always had a problem with making permanent decisions. I would never die my hair, because I didn’t want to risk a few months with a terrible color. I only cut my hair once or twice a year, because I change my mind so much about what kind of hairstyle I want. The thought of choosing something to become a permanent part of my body scared me enough to keep the idea of getting a tattoo at bay for at least 10 years.
All that said, I have been toying with the idea of a tattoo for many years. I thought about getting something to honor my dad or maybe a cute little elephant, but I could never settle on a design that felt right. It couldn’t be something generic or stereotypical and it had to be full of meaning.
After the events of the last few weeks, the idea started popping up in my head again. This time, though, it was very clear how it should look and the meaning behind it. It took me all of 5 minutes to design exactly what I wanted in Photoshop and decide where it should go. Everything felt right this time, so I took a leap and went for it.
Before I went to the tattoo parlor, I spent a lot of time in prayer. I spent time in God’s word. I talked with God about whether or not this was the right thing for me to do. I know there are many varying beliefs on tattoos, but I felt very confident in my decision to move forward. A lot of that confidence came in the things this image represents.
” Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:3
As I have written before, the tv show Touched by an Angel played a big role in my return to faith and rebuilding my relationship with God. When my faith was at an all time low, I stumbled upon episode after episode that seemed to speak directly to me. The show used doves for different reasons throughout the series, but they were always linked to God, His blessings, and His angels. Doves were a symbol of God actively working in the situation. Doves are also a common symbol for peace.
There are four doves to represent four specific people who not only meant a lot to me, but who made a significant impact on my spiritual journey. Their lives and deaths have helped shape me into the person I am today. In working through the pain of losing them, I have discovered aspects of God at work in my life. Some of those discoveries took years to understand and some were instantaneous.
The doves are in flight to represent my loved ones flying away home. As the old hymn says, “like a bird from prison bars has flown, I’ll fly away. When I die, hallelujah, I’ll fly away.” I wanted to capture the image of them forever flying free heading to their home on God’s celestial shore. They have left the pain, heartaches, and struggles of this world behind to go to a place where joy will never end. I wanted to have a reminder that, though we are sad they are gone and we miss them, they are in the place they always dreamed of going. There is also freedom in their flight that can only come from faith and trust in Jesus.
The word grace is there, because God has shown me nothing but grace upon grace over the years. I once was lost but now I am found, was blind but now I see. God has opened my eyes to grace this year, especially in the last couple of months. It’s also a reminder that I am supposed to show grace to others in dealing with them everyday.
There is some extra meaning hidden in the word grace. It is done in my mom’s handwriting. Of course this is partially because my mom means the world to me, but there is so much more. I think my mom is a beautiful example of grace. Over the years I have watched her work thankless jobs to put food on the table, deal with difficult children, and overcome many struggles. She has dealt with the deaths of a husband, both parents, and now her big sister and brother-in-law. Through it all, I don’t think I have ever heard her complain. She does what needs to be done and carries on with life. I see grace in her strength, her bravery, and in her ability to keep moving forward.
Putting all these meanings and messages together, I’ve decided this is more than a tattoo. It is my visual testimony. It represents all I have been through as well as God’s ever present grace and peace. It represents all the scars and brokenness I carry around on the inside, but also the loving Father who has been there to get me through it all. It is in a place where others can see it, because I pray to have the courage to share it’s true meaning if I am ever asked about it.
I consider this tattoo as a step toward healing and faith. I’m not worried about forgetting those who meant so much because I now carry them with me wherever I go. It is a bold statement, for me, in proclaiming my faith and trust in God in a way that I can never ignore or hide again. It is a symbol of the progress I have made since starting this blog a little less than a year ago. All thanks to His amazing grace!