Tattooing your soul


Our former foreign exchange student got a tattoo the other day–fortunately not on my watch–and it got me to thinking about the meaning of inking up your skin permanently.

G’s tattoo is a pretty one, as you would expect, reflecting her love of music. She tells me her mother loves it and I’m not surprised–her mother loves her!

But that reminded me of another love–that of a desperately ill young woman for her God and the tattoo she got to make sure that love always could be proclaimed.

Our pastor’s 27-year-old niece, Heather Beyer, died recently of breast cancer. She used the last two years as she fought for her life to share the good news that she had a future in heaven. As time went by, however, and her ability to talk diminished, she became concerned she would not be able to praise her Lord so effectively if she couldn’t speak. She wanted to be able to lift up her hands and continue to voice her love for God.

So, she had her praises tattooed to her wrist.

Heather’s thought was, if all else failed, when she lifted up her hands “hallelujah” still would be

I’m blessed and amazed at such strength.

Which reminds me of another tattoo, inked onto the forearm of a writer I know. She has a heart for third-world women and one day while interviewing some Copts in Egypt, she noticed they had a cross tattooed to their forearms. Why?

“We feel certain that severe persecution is coming to Egypt, and we are not sure we will be able to stand up to it. We have chosen to have ourselves indelibly marked as followers of Christ so that we can never renounce Him, not even in our weakest moments,” one woman explained.

She was struck by their courage and came home resolved to do the same. Her husband was a little nervous about her idea, but agreed to drive her to the tattoo parlor when the day came. At the last minute, he got one, too–though not on his forearm like Her.

tattooBut you can see it on their arms. They are not particularly large, “I can cover it with a band-aid when I visit Muslim countries,” She explained. But it’s there and she knows it.

And it makes me, in only this one instance, itch to consider the same mark.

The Bible, however, reminds us that we, ourselves, are a tattoo in 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 when the apostle Paul remarks:  “You, yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tables of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

I need to remember that. I may not have the courage of Heather or my writer friend, or even of my foreign exchange student. But the grace of God flows through me to the world–a tattoo of God’s love and mercy to all I meet. Click to Tweet

Thanks be to God.

Leave a comment


  1. Rachel Durham

     /  May 20, 2011

    Beautiful. One change I’d make on your last sentence, verb tense. Change “should flow” to “flows”. Say it with confidence. Any shortfall is forgiven! All glory be to God.

  2. Thank you for writing this post! Very inspirational! God bless!

  3. Michelle, I have to admit that this blog’s topic has been on my mind ever since I read it. Unlike you, I have entertained the idea of a tattoo for years, mulling over the right elements to represent me spiritually, ancestrally, and topically. I vacillate between a large artistic piece and a small innocuous one. How do I package my loves, my passions, my origins (Irish), and my beliefs into one illustration? I wanted something that would help me give my testimony of faith, too. The beauty of what the Egyptian women and your friend Kay chose – a small cross – resonates with me, too, as well as the simple word of praise that Heather had.
    I think that now I realize simple is better and should I ever move forward in this decision, I have a clearer understanding of what I want my “ink” to say for and about me. That the transforming gift of redemption bought and paid for me on the cross, has defined me in more ways than any other event, any genetic code, or anyone else in my life. Of course a little Celtic styling wouldn’t hurt… :o)

    • If you want my opinion, Cathleen, I think a small Celtic cross would be a perfect way for you to be “marked for Christ.” I can’t tell you how many people have asked me about my cross, and what doors of opportunity it has opened.

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