When I got my tattoo, a lot of thought went into what I knew I would carry with me the rest of my life. I wanted it to be something that was meaningful of a certain period of my life, but not something that I would regret in 30 years. I looked at picture after picture. I interviewed everyone I knew with a tattoo. “How did you decided on that particular piece? What does it mean to you now? Would you do it again?” And most importantly, “Did it hurt?” I checked out several studios around town, talked to many artists, checked health ratings and techniques. I figured out from word of mouth where was good, where to stay away from, who to look into.
Kris’ brother, Joey, is a tattoo artist in California. He told Kris to make sure that the artist I went to used a certain kind of ink, a certain kind of needle. I took Kris and Nathan with me to look at numerous portfolios. Were their lines clean? Did their colors bleed? Did they only do the same type of tattoo? I did my research.
Then it was time to decide what I wanted.
My life has been defined by Grace. I love that word. There are times that I have been shown great measures of Grace – from my friends, from my family, from complete strangers. There are times when my soul felt so weary that it was only by the Grace of God that I could pull through. There was a time in my life, a good semester-chunk, that I watched the world around me turn upside down. In the end, it was Grace that allowed me to land on feet, instead of my head. Even just to hear the word spoken makes my heart flutter a little. I love Grace. Also, I was in seminary at the time – so the idea of having something to mark that time in my life seemed appropriate. Thus I ended up with:
It means: “By His Grace,” in Hebrew. Obviously.
And I love it. Two years running, and every time I catch a glimpse of it or someone asks me what it means, I smile. I love explaining what led me to that point, what still carries me today. I love remembering that point in my life leading up to actually marking myself as a person of Grace.
Its a small, and sometimes hidden, reminder of who I am. That became very apparent to me two weeks ago when I came face to face with who I was not. I am not a person of Shame. All I need to do is look behind me and remember, I am a person of Grace.