My little sister got tattoos before me, so I knew when I walked into that tattoo parlor, I wouldn’t be completely disowned by my family after I paid a complete stranger to permanently alter my body.
When the damage was done, I texted my mom who told my dad. Obviously, my parents still love me, but I could feel my dad’s disappointment in his response–“Interesting. I hope you like it.”
At that point, I wasn’t actually sure if I liked it or not. I envisioned it smaller, but shrinking it, skewed the font I loved. And frankly, it didn’t matter if I liked it or not because tattoos are permanent–and I needed some permanent in my life.
I used to tell people I don’t have tattoos because I’m afraid of needles and commitment.
My fear of needles is just me being dramatic.
My fear of commitment had become a paralyzing problem. I was tired of not finishing things, tired of changing my mind, tired of quitting because I was afraid of failing or making the wrong choice.
Maybe my tattoo was a wrong choice, but I did not enter my choice lightly. I spent over a year searching Pinterest for tattoo ideas looking for something I wanted forever on my body.
Do I want a quote? A picture? When I finally found a quote I loved, then I had to decide on a font and placement.
Once I was 75% confident on all those decisions, I waited 3 more months before I went to the tattoo parlor. Then standing in front of the guy with tattoos all the way up his neck, I knew it was now or never.
Hey, I just met you and this is crazy, but here’s my money, tattoo me, maybe.
I signed on the dotted line and committed to my decision.
My fear of needles made me blow out of proportion how much I thought it would hurt, so the mild discomfort I felt was a pleasant surprise.
But even now, I’m having trouble committing to the next sentence I should write, and I can easily change that if I so choose. I’m stuck forever with the three words I decided to tattoo on my forearm.
Courage, dear heart.
A quote from one of my favorite authors that captures the heart of one of my favorite scriptures.
I always need a reminder to choose courage over fear.
Admiring my tattoo one day while simultaneously wondering if I had made a horrible mistake, God asked my heart a simple question.
Sarah, you spent so long weighing your decision to tattoo those words on your arm. You chose them because they inspired you and reminded you of my command to be strong and courageous. But how often do you frivolously throw your words at others? You’re not careful with them because you don’t see their permanent imprint.
Well, crap. Why did we have to go there, God?
God created the universe with His words–God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.”
Jesus was described as the Word made flesh–the living embodiment of the Word of God.
Albus Dumbledore, arguably one of the greatest wizards ever, said, “Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic…capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.”
I mean God kinda said it first, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…there is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 18:21a, 12:18)
Rarely do I ever treat the decision about the words I speak with such care as the decision I made to get a tattoo.
But words have power. They stick. I can build others up and give life with my words or I can tear them down and bring death.
And in my experience, the words that hurt the most tend to last the longest.
In sixth grade, Patrick Chin relentlessly used his words to mock my appearance, and those taunts made a deep impression on my eleven-year-old heart. Almost 20 years later, his words still huant me.
Words are permanent.
How many times have my careless or carefully chosen words tattooed pain onto someone’s heart?
My tattoo forever alters my arm with the words I chose to encourage my heart. Sure, I may regret that decision 15 years from now, but it’s only physical.
And yet because I can see the tattoo, it somehow feels like a weightier decision than power I wield with the words I speak.
The greatest power words possess lies in their ability to heal, to encourage, to give life.
Words are permanent–may we use that to our advantage and tattoo hope, peace, and joy on the hearts of those around us.