I have a tattoo.
Now for many of you that statement doesn’t seem like a big deal. However, others, probably those brought up in church, are thinking “how scandalous!”
In current society, “getting tatted” seems to be the popular thing to do. I can assure you that getting my tattoo had nothing to do with being cool, trendy, or rebellious but everything to do with God.
Now some of you are really shouting “blasphemy!” Hold on and let me explain.
In my mid-thirties, I spent two years mired deep in depression. Some days I was in such a dark place, I wanted to get in my car and drive. Where? Anywhere as long as it was away from my life. Why? I had no idea. My life was fine: I had a loving husband, two healthy kids, a successful career, a thriving ministry, and plenty of friends. All I knew was that on the inside I was hurting in a way that I couldn’t even voice to those closest to me.
Then God stepped in and allowed two painful encounters to occur: one sent me deeper into my depression, the other forced me to seek help.
And so in the summer of 2009, I found myself spending one morning a week in the office of a Christian counselor. Week after week, I left a little more of my internal struggles and pain in the office of that counselor. Finally, after 3 months, my joy returned, and the depression had lifted. I can’t explain the freedom I felt because my “real self” had chosen to reappear.
While searching for light in the midst of my darkness, God began to call me to a new life– a life of missions. He wasn’t scared of my depression, and in fact, kept calling me to the missions life right in the middle of it all.
Accepting a life of missions meant I would have to give up everything I had ever known: family, friends, my language, my church, my career, and my culture. Yet little by little as the clouds began to lift, I could hear God calling and feel His love which beckoned me to say yes to all that He had for me.
The autumn rolled in and I officially accepted God’s call to missions– which means I looked at my husband and said “Okay, I’ll go.” I agreed to move to Ecuador and give my life to missions with nothing but a heart-knowing that it was God speaking. I hadn’t heard an audible voice from heaven. No wise saint spoke a prophetic word to me about this giant leap of faith. No fleeces had been set out. It was a just simple faith-filled yes to a life-altering request.
I felt that this change in my life was such a huge landmark, I wanted to remember it somehow. I wanted to have a reminder of how God pulled me out of the darkness of depression and gave me a beyond-my-wildest-dreams calling. I never wanted to forget the warmth that joy brings to a depressed soul when the winter finally surrenders. For me, the way to remember was to get a tattoo.
So after A YEAR of thinking and praying about the idea, I did it.
Know what? It has served its specific purpose in my life. Each day, I catch a glimpse of the black ink on the inside of my wrist, and I remember. I remember joy. I remember freedom. Most of all, I remember the Lord of my Life and His plans for me.
Isaiah 49:6 in The Message says, “I’d never forget you—never. Look, I’ve written your names on the backs of my hands.” God has my name engraved on his palm, just as I have a His marker on my wrist. He will not forget me; He cannot erase me.
I don’t want to forget Him, either. I don’t want what He’s done in my life to be erased ever. I need a reminder that keeps His work in me and His love for me constantly in my mind.
So, I have a tattoo.
Great article Alicia, love you so much.
We all need reminders of the times that God has shown himself faithful and walked us through our own personal valley of darkness. My daily reminder is manifested in the form of a daughter named Mercy. Yours, in the form of ink on your arm. What a beautiful testimony. Thank you for being so real and vulnerable by sharing something so preciously private. You’re my hero and I love you much. 🙂