Marked By The Journey | embodied stories
My body is marked.
With little spots and moles and freckles that I used to hate but have learned to embrace.
By scars like the one under my eye from running into a tree branch while snowboarding or like the one on my leg from cleaning up glass from a missile that went off near the Gaza strip.
And it is marked by tattoos; two of them, that tell the story of faith and change and identity.
The first tattoo is on my feet.
It is Psalm 94:17-18 written in Paleo Hebrew
17 Unless the Lord had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
18 When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
19 When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.
I always add vs. 19 when I tell it, because I think it paints a fuller picture.
I think this verse was the first scripture I read that I actually felt God speak to me through. Someone in the bible had anxiety? Strange isn’t it. When I read this verse I had just been through a summer of funerals. I had a feeling in my chest that wouldn’t go away. A fear that everyone was going to die in car accidents, and I wouldn’t have the chance to say good-bye.
This scripture comforted me. It has gone on to be a reminder; a reminder of things that were lost, of times I have dwelt in death’s silence, of anxiety, and the deep ache. It has also served as a rebuke when hope slips through my fingers – that it is by the Lord’s help and love that I am still here. He is the one who comforts my soul and He is the one that keeps my feet from slipping off the uneven path of life.
I have had my feet tattooed for so long now I usually forget that these funny little shapes were once not a part of my skin. These words have transformed my feet from being regular to being little messages of life and a reminder that I am still alive. Every time someone asks about them, I get to share a piece of beauty and a piece of my story.
The second tattoo is more recent, less then a year. It tells a story of where I walk today. Sometimes I feel like it is a bit cheesy, but then I remember why I decided to put it there. It is a reminder.
“you were bought at a price, therefore, honour God with your body.” 1Cor. 6:20
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matt. 6:25-27
I am like most, worrying about my worth, worrying about my future and about provision, and yet scripture tells me I am valuable to my Father in Heaven. It reminds me that my worth is based on the sacrifice of Jesus, and that He will meet all my needs.
My second tattoo was a declaration, an agreement with God, an ‘if you say so I’m willing to try and believe it’ kind of thing. It is the word valuable and it is a marked reminder that this body I don’t always love is worth enough that I need not worry.
The girls around me often carry a name tattooed on their body almost like being branded. It is the name of their loverboy or pimp. It is a message that she is his. That she works for him.
When she gets away, she is often not free because the name is still there, claiming her, taunting her. She may go through the painful process of getting it removed, or she may simply live with the reminder.
Tattoo’s carry power. I find that as I have claimed the tattoos on my body, I have given those words power in my life. I think of them as an agreement to live out the what they express. I think of them as a silent declaration under my clothes. I have the opportunity to carry hidden words of life into places of brokenness. I do not take for granted the choice I had the opportunity to make by placing these words on my body.
They mark an outward reflection of an inward journey.
Sometimes people are shocked by the tattoos on the girls in prostitution. Because the outward name is a stark reminder of the inward turmoil of what it means to work for the one you love. To have your value defined by a word and a price. They too are marked by their journey.
I guess it is something we have in common.
“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame.”
Song of Sol. 8:6
(I haven’t looked at the blogging world much this week, but when I saw this Synchroblog over at Deeper Story, I just had to link up my own embodied story regarding my tattoos, even it if is a few days behind the rest).