Monday, September 17, 2012

Tattoos and Piercings and Love, oh my!

Last week I took my Jeep in for some TLC at Jiffy Lube.  The young man who checked me in and the out at the end of the session had some nice tattoos on his left arm, but it was the tattoo on his right arm that caught my attention.  Across the side of his forearm was simply "Joshua 1:6-9" in a nice, clean script.  I was in the middle of signing my credit card slip and was trying not to stare so as to ensure I knew what I was reading.  I probably was making an idiot of myself, but as I was ready to walk out the door, I finally had my wits all about me and said, "Be strong and courageous."  His eyes lit up, he smiled and said, "I will ... thanks."  (The picture isn't of his tattoo.)

The night before, I was at a restaurant with some friends. My friend, Fran, had just gotten a tattoo on her right forearm / wrist with the word "Believe" tailing off to a dragonfly.  It's gorgeous.  Our waitress also had a tattoo on her wrist and Fran asked about it.  The waitress was embarrassed about it and tried to toss off the conversation. I wonder how many times she's gotten harassed about that tattoo by those who don't like them.  All Fran wanted to do was make a connection, not give her any trouble about it.

When Max worked at CompUSA, their policy for piercings was that the employee had to remove any facial piercings before coming on to the floor.  I think the bright red holes in a person's eyebrow are much uglier than some of the jewelry worn.

I've teased some friends with the words from Leviticus 19:28 where the law states you aren't to put any tattoo marks on yourself.  In all honesty, I can look at many other laws from this section and recognize they have no place in today's society.  We have to be very careful of standing on OT law. Paul clearly tells us that if we choose to live by one, we must live by them all.

I have friends with tattoos and I have friends who abhor tattoos.  I have friends with pierced ears who think that any other type of piercing is also abhorrent. Me? I'm fascinated by the whole thing.  I'm not big into pain or permanent body decoration, simply because I don't want to have to maintain it through thick and thin.  My ears were pierced years ago, but I just don't wear that much jewelry and honestly, I suppose the holes are still there, but I have no desire to wear earrings these days, so I don't.

The point of all this isn't just about tattoos and piercing, but about our ... my attitude regarding those who choose to do this.  I remember my mother being quite rude about tattoos, asking whether a young person was really going to want to have that decoration on their body as they grew older.  It was believed that people wouldn't be able to get higher paying jobs if they were tattooed where it was visible.

Then I began asking myself why it mattered to me at all what another person chose to do.  It is not my concern whether or not they work in a job I think they should work, or pierce their bodies, or wear spacers in their ears or tattoos on their body.  God doesn't actually call me to make those judgments in their lives or tell them how to live their lives.

God tells me to love.  That's pretty much it.  I don't have to make everyone adjust to my perception of what life should look like and then ridicule them if they don't.  Sometimes I think that is one of the most courageous things we can do.  Love people where they are, no matter what ... even if we encounter them only one time in our lives.

So, as I got in my Jeep and drove away, thankful for freshly vacuumed carpet, clean windows, and an oil change and thought about the exchange, it occurred to me that the moment he and I made a connection over that scripture verse tattooed on his arm, we had shown each other a little love.  It probably wasn't a world-changing moment, but it was another step on the path toward love.

In my class today we had to answer the question about what is non-negotiable in our lives.  For me it is love.  I'll get into that another time.

So, do you have a tattoo? What is it? Do you want a tattoo? What do you want and where do you want it?

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