For some getting a tattoo isn’t a big statement as they are part of their life and self-identity, or part of their youthful search for self. Or perhaps because they watched a movie and thought it would be cool. It is part of their normal.
I’m not sure what my normal is, but somehow a tattoo fit into it.
Now, I recently heard about a poll on tattoos that women who have a visible one are considered promiscuous. Since the commentators mentioned “tramp stamps”, and mine is far from that, I wonder if someone looking at me and my tattoo would think the same.
It is, however, visible being on the inside of my right wrist. I choose the location for a few
reasons, the first being that it is a location that won’t sag as bad (can’t image what will happen to those “tramp stamps” when the ladies turn 70!). The other major influence was my interactions in Egypt with a male Protestant Christian pastor (they don’t have female pastors). He showed us the tattooed cross in the inside of his wrist, saying that it is a traditional marking of Christians in a society where they are unable to freely express their faith in public. The tattoo then becomes a silent sign to others of their faith.
For me, especially living in a northern climate, the inside of my wrist is not necessarily very public. During the colder months it is covered by long sleeves, and I always have an option of wearing jewelry to cover it up. But at the same time, it is a subtle expression of my faith, a faith that even when I am not speaking, is expressed. I find myself rarely purposefully covering it up, and embrace it even more when at the end of leading worship, I raise my arms to bless a congregation in the name of our Heavenly Parent, Heavenly Brother, and Eternal Guide.
The placement also has deep personal meaning. My right hand is my dominate hand, and as one who thinks and expresses herself through writing, the placement is a silent prayer and reminder that what I do should always be in the Spirit.
The tattoo design itself is important. Three birds in flight…not any particular birds, just birds. They remind me of the Spirit, God and Christ, but each one signifies members of my family – husband, son and daughter. It is a reminder of the Spirit being in each one of them, a reminder of how blessed I am by them, and also that they have been brought into my life through God. The birds are also flying away from my body, a reminder that while they are part of me, they are also separate from me.
My kids love them too, knowing that they represent them and their Dad. They see them and they are reminded how important they are to me, how much I love them. Perhaps when they are older and living elsewhere, they will think of how they are literally part of me, always close.
Finally, when I am no longer able to wear a wedding ring, when the C-section scars become indistinguishable from the effects of age, these three birds – even if they are hard to make out – is a way that my flesh, my body, and my being will always have my husband and children with me.
Getting a tattoo wasn’t a quick decision for me, but took years to discernment. It was done with great thought and reflection and lots of prayer.
By the time I entered Shannon’s studio, I was ready. It didn’t take long, and actually didn’t hurt that much. Shannon space is not really tattoo parlor, but rather an art studio with a distinct spiritual atmosphere. Being new to the process, she made me feel very comfortable and relaxed. But the key was this:
Once the birds were revealed, it was as if they had always meant to be there. That place on my body had been waiting 37 years to be filled, 37 years to reveal part of my spirit.
Tattoos are not for everyone, but this one, these three birds, are for me. They are my normal.