I almost feel the need to apologize after long absences from writing. Even when it’s just my personal journal (which I’ve neglected way worse). This is, of course, ridiculous for many reasons. One, being to whom would I be apologizing? I’m quite positive no one has been clocking my absence. Two, being that apologizing to an inanimate object is more than a little odd – and no, I will not tell you the number of times I’ve actually done that. I’m known for my proficient apologizing skills, okay?
I finally take the time today, as I took half the day off from work (and a full day tomorrow to enjoy my birthday) to begin again. I watch my dog Sadie (an update for another post) play with her toys and listen to thunder and lay behind my chair. For when I’m at this table she stays close to me instead of her favorite couch spot.
I have been wanting to share the official story behind my first new development that was back in April – my first tattoo.
I was visiting my best friend and her husband and girls in their new home in Las Vegas. They made the bold and beautiful move to Nevada to teach in arguably the hardest school district in the country. They are amazing and strong and so many things wonderful.
I’ve been thinking of my first tattoo for years. Almost a decade. I could take the time telling you the backstory of what I originally wanted that aesthetically would not have worked out – but I won’t. This is about what I did end up choosing to permanently place on my skin.
My friend mentioned above, Kristin, had gotten her son’s memorial tattoo here at Revolt Tattoos when she and her husband visited to get their new careers in order before the big move. She and her husband had watched Ink Masters for a while, and she told me that this was the studio that is owned and opened by Season 3 winner Joey Hamilton, and Season 4 runner-up Sausage. She told me what an amazing place it was, and if I was up for it, why not get it while there?
I obviously and immediately said yes. I had waiting too long already and this was the perfect place and opportunity. I got to share the experience with her and Pete (her husband) sitting next to me and supporting me through it all. Not only was it the same place where she got Shai’s butterfly, but I ended up sitting in the exact same chair she did. Inside my heart I was so honored and thankful to have that be the case. It’s a large studio with a ton of chairs. What are the odds? I prayed a silent thank you to God for such a neat thread of connection.
My artist was Jason Tritten (you can follow him on Twitter or Instagram) and we viewed his page before arriving. His color technique is what sets him apart. So talented and I was excited and knew I could trust this shop and its artists.
We arrived and had the quick consultation about what I had decided would be my first ink. He listened politely and after I described the simple aspects I wanted to incorporate, took a few minutes to draw his vision of my idea. He came over to us and showed the drawing and I felt a flutter inside and instantly loved it. It wasn’t what I thought I wanted by the connection of one of the aspects that I though I would want separate, but it was perfect. That’s why you trust the artist. I looked back and Kristin and saw she was thinking the same thing – that’s it. That’s exactly it. “Beautiful”, I said. “This is perfect, thank you.”
I wish I had the forethought to ask for the drawing. That would have been amazing to frame. I regret that truly, but I have it forever by my side.
I couldn’t thank Kristin and Pete enough for halting their day and sticking by my side through this important part of my life. I will cherish that always.
Funnily enough, it didn’t hurt that bad. Even if it does – I promise you won’t remember the part that hurt. The left side of the tattoo was actually relaxing. I don’t know how to explain it, but it felt almost like a massage! The right side was definitely more painful, but I never felt it was even close to too much or needing a break. It was great and bearable and worth every minute of the hour in that chair.
Revolt even does live streaming of all tattoos if the canvas consents. (I started watching Ink Master that night with them. Can you tell by the nicknames?) So while I wasn’t intending to tell anyone just yet what I was doing, Kristin said that’s a great opportunity, so I should do it. My sister and a handful of friends happen to be on the computer at that time and I posted on FB what people would be about to witness. Kristin’s co-worker even watched! It was hilarious. I got to text a couple people with one hand while it was going on. A neat experience for sure!
After the outline was done, we moved to the last phase, the color. I chose green for the leaves (I’ll give a full explanation of the design below) and he chose great hues and did shade and variance. It was beautiful. I knew that the pureness of how it turned out would mute a little over time, but it was art. It didn’t sink in yet fully, but I couldn’t stop looking. I was at peace and felt wonderful.
I wanted this verse for its meaning and application throughout my life.
“A man’s steps are established by the Lord,
and He delights in his way.
When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
for the Lord is the One who holds his hand.”
The olive leaves were a specific choice as well. Olive leaves are symbolic of peace, mercy, victory. The dove returned to Noah with an olive branch to show life was beginning again after tragedy. To show it was safe. It was time to come home.
Olive trees are abundant in the Holy Land – even to this day.
They are rich in fruit and use and beauty. It represents, to me, Jerusalem – Christ’s land.
My starting point. By His actions.
This is the most significant for me. Even though my original idea all those years ago didn’t end up being what was done, the placement was always firm. Intentional.
The “right hand” is mentioned 166 times in the Bible.
“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you,
Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13, NIV)
The right hand, by way of the verses describing its significance, is a symbol of power, protection, God’s presence and more.
It is His presence that most explains the reason for my choice of placement.
The Lord assures His children repeatedly that He will hold their hand.
To lead, to give affection, to protect, to calm.
If my King is holding me with His right hand, He is holding my left.
For this reason, I got my tattoo on the left hand.
The presence of Him, by his gentle, loving touch, is by my side. His holy, right hand secures my weaker, left.
The verse, ever since I first saw its words, and every single time since, has included such a stark visual. My eyes imagine the scene each time. Climbing perilous but thrilling heights. Climbing and descending and moving forward. My steps are established by Him. He knows my yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He sees the event coming for me around that corner.
He knows what will assault me and what will replenish me.
Through it all, He holds my hand. As a husband to a wife. A love to a beloved.
Secure. Firm. Intentional. Dependable. Gentle.
When I fall (oh hear me – not if. W H E N) I will not scatter amongst the rocks.
I will not break apart. My head with not snap in the tumble.
Because He – the Almighty Protector – My Guide and Love – holds my hand.
With my left hand held by His right, I can face the world in assurance. I need not fear the times I disappoint other people. I need not fear the times I’m broken in pieces by others. I need not fear when I fail and what He has called me to do – time and again. When I procrastinate (ahem, the book), when I idolize man over Savior, when I let anxiety overshadow the truth I know deep…
I know there are many opinions about tattoos, including some who take certain Scripture as a way to back up their opinion. My purpose here is not to change anyone’s mind. My purpose is to share why I chose this art.
It is permanent – I know this. That is the draw. That gives me drive all the more, to have this inscribed. That word – inscribed – it’s a word meant to envoke longevity, weight, purpose. There are verses for this too. I gently ask that you look up these instances as well. Inscribed is most often paired as a way to describe that He desires something be kept so close, it will never fade. His word. His love. Him.
For these reasons, I wanted to inscribe. Next to me, for always. I have complete peace and zero regret.
No matter what is coming for me, my steps are established. We hike as a team. The summit is challenging but oh so rewarding. I see us both. Every time. To be fair, I don’t see His face – but I see that hand holding mine. I look down at it every time I feel a slight slip. And I smile – every time.
Because it was proved yet again – I will not perish. I will keep going.