I went to a place called White Lotus on Friday. White Lotus is a tattoo shop in Mission Viejo. I went there out of a recommendation from my friend Allison, who has great work and I trust her. Just know that it wasn't Kat Von D's shop by any means, but it was cool.
I left work at 1:30 with my friend's Dre and Shelia. Dre and I have been looking for time on both our schedules for 4 months, so this long awaited adventure was not without high expectation and anticipation. The three of us walked into the shop and were immediately greeted by the smell of sterilization and ink.
Somewhat a familiar smell from the days when my junior high students would spend the periods writing on their desks and I would clean them at the end of the day with bleach. Odd to flashback to that chapter of my life, given it is not with much fondness. I learned so much from that chapter, but am also thankful for every year that passes that distances me from it. That was a dark time for me professionally, as I was given 90 precious students to care for, teach and inspire and instead found I had no idea what I was doing, was consumed by the complexity of their lives that I could not change and slipped into a state of anxiety and depression I'd like to never revisit.
This moment for me on Friday was just the opposite. I've spent years thinking about this tattoo. The first time I ever walked into a tattoo parlor I was with my friend, Susie. I think we were 19. We were going to both get a daisy on our toe because there was a line in one of our favorite Girl Scout songs that said, 'there's a daisy on my toe, it is not real, it does not grow'. We decided against it. Friday I did not decide against it, well almost, because I am not a fan of self induced pain, but as you can see that quickly passed.
I chose the word peace because as I have learned more and more about anxiety and depression I have learned that the Lord meets me in that place. Every. Single. Time. As I read this from Philippines...
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9 NIV)
...I am settled and I know that God is worthy of my rejoicing far more than that which I have anxiety about.
Greg, the tattoo artist, was quick to tell me that the position of my tattoo was upside down. He wanted me to know that I was breaking the rules of the tattoo club by the placement of my word peace. I looked him in the eyes and with a twinkle in my eye, shared that this tattoo is for me. For me to read when I need to be reminded that God has been faithful to me time and again, that when I read the word peace that I am reminded of His truth to the world, that peace passes understanding. That in a world I wish I could demand order and sense out of everything, that it doesn't always workout that way. I told him I needed to be able to read it and that I didn't mind that the world would not be able to. I leaned in and whispered, as if such a permanent marking was anything other than personal, "This is for me." And then smiled.
He said, "Alright."
When the stencil was just write, 2 fonts sizes and 4 placements later, I waved Dre and Shelia back to the area where the art was about to take place. Dre offered her hand for me to hold. At first I declined but as he picked up his tools to begin I grabbed for her hand. And let's be clear. It hurt. Not tear inducing but definitely caused me to nearly crush every bone in Dre's hand a couple of times.
When it was all said and done I was pleased and super excited with what I saw. He told me how to take care of it and off we went. It was simple and quick. To have thought about something for so long, I kind of wish it had taken longer. I suppose the permanence of this mark on my left wrist is the "longer" part.
I don't ask you to agree with tattoo's or not agree with them. That's my choice and I like it. But I do ask you this, what do you find in your life that you are rooted in the word on? What do you acknowledge that you struggle with, day in and day out that God wants to shed hope on? And in that, are you letting Him?