Growing up in the heart of the deep south, the negative stigma associated with tattoos was engrained in me from as early as I remember. If I saw someone with a tattoo, we were more than likely at Kmart and a whole list of judgemental labels would come to mind: Dirty, Trash, Drunk, Poor, Dating Interacially, and/or On Drugs. I turned my nose up at those who had chosen to mark themselves with ink for their whole lives.
The summer before I started middle school, we moved from my sweet home Alabama to Colorado. —->This girl<—– who thought cuss words only happened in movies, endured a major culture shock. People decorated their bodies in all sorts of ways– colored hair, mohawks, tattoos, piercings all sorts of places besides ear lobes, boys in tight jeans and military boots (this was the 90s people). A walk in downtown Denver for this sheltered baby was just as entertaining– and mind-blowing— as going to the circus. I guess being around some more liberal folks desensitized me somewhat to all things I once considered taboo. At 18 I pierced my tongue (which I took out 2 weeks later), added a few more holes in each ear, and even pierced my belly button. But tattoos were still on my big no-no list. I wasn’t totally disgusted with people who had them, I just knew there was no word, picture, or idea that I could personally commit to wearing on my body for the duration of my life. A hole in your skin grows back, but ink and needles are forever.
I say all that to say… labels, “I never”, and judgement are null for those of us who live in Christ, because look what —->This girl<—- did for her birthday last month!!!
I’ve written before that Michael and I decided before we were even married that the verse Song of Solomon 2:6 would be the key theme underlying in our marriage. “My beloved is mine and I am his.” The passion of the groom for his bride and vice versa was appealing to us as a young couple madly in love. It wasn’t until years into our marriage that I began to understand the truer and deeper meaning in that verse. God picked the church and the people to be the bride and the BELOVED of Christ. It took a disappointment from man and a literal ‘come to Jesus’ moment between me and the Holy Spirit in which God showed me that I am, first and foremost, His BELOVED. My husband, family, and friends may love me to the moon and back, but the love of God is infinite. God chose me to be His. His love is the one that will never let me down. Because of His love, he knit me together in my mother’s womb, and like a stamp of completion, called me His BELOVED.
Five years ago if you had said “Who are you?” I would have labeled myself Loving Wife, Know It All Good Mom, or Exercise Junkie. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you know that I have learned, the hard way, that my identity is not tied to the things I do, but the things which Christ has already done for me. The new label I wear today is the only one that matters. God says I am a beautiful, BELOVED daughter, saved by grace. It’s been a long road and I’ve fought demons that have inhabited my heart since childhood, but daily I realize that I am nothing without God.
My Fight Club has been reading through the gospels over the past few months. In Matthew, right after John the Baptist baptizes Jesus, the heavens open and the Holy Spirit comes down. This is such a crucial point. It’s the first time the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is/are present. At that moment, the Father looks at his Son and says “This is my BELOVED son, with whom I am well pleased.” When I read that verse a few months ago, I knew that was it. My heart did a little flutter. It was time for my label, my stamp of identity.
I chose the old-school typewriter font because I wanted it to be like my ‘orignal’ label, if you will. Like a factory stamp. I chose that spot on my back because it’s not revealing in most things I wear. God and my husband, the two people of whom I am BELOVED, are the only ones who will always be able to see it. It’s also on my rib to symbolize that woman (me) came from the man’s rib. Man was beautifully made in the image of God. The lines and even the alignment of the letters are not perfect, and that was done on purpose, because I am not perfect.
Written on my body, so that I will never forget, who I am. BELOVED.
Below is a little scriptural research regarding tattoos…
The most famous and quoted verse regarding tattoos is Leviticus 19:28 Do not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves. That’s pretty clear. But if you explore around it in the Old Testament, this was a warning to the Israelites regarding worship of pagan gods. Just a few verses down is where it also talks about men cutting the sides of their beards and not eating meat that hasn’t been drained of all it’s blood. In the OT men also had multiple wives and the women had to leave town during their monthly cycle. Praise the Lord for the scandal of GRACE! Without it, we would all be doomed. When Jesus died on the cross, the law of the OT was tossed out. Through his death, Jesus paid for every sin so that God’s grace covers us as we shave our beards and eat bloody steak.
Then there is the New Testament argument regarding marking your body. 1 Cor 6:19-20 says “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” The way you interpret this verse is different for each and every one of us. For some, this means only eating organic produce and meat. For others it means wearing Christian t shirts every day. For me, it means that I wear the ‘label’ proudly, that my Father in heaven has given me. When someone asks about my word on my back, I tell them that I am BELOVED by God and sometimes even tell them parts of the journey I’ve walked in learned my identity. So for me, my ink does glorify God.