For my last birthday, I decided to celebrate turning 34 by doing something I never thought I’d do. I got a tattoo. My parents weren’t thrilled at first, but I’m 34 and my mom was just glad I wasn’t going skydiving. (Not yet, at least, Mom.)
You may be thinking: Wow, that seems rash. You know that’s permanent, right?
No, it was not a rash decision, and yes, I know it is permanent. I think I need to backup a little to explain.
When my life exploded, part of the aftermath was staring my insecurities straight in the face. ALL my insecurities. Every doubt, fear, misconception, hidden truth, and flat out lie that I have ever thought about myself surfaced when my husband looked me in the face and screamed that he didn’t want me anymore. Trying to figure out what about me was so undesirable threatened to leave me hiding in a hole of despair.
I am so thankful for my family. Yes, I mean my literal family. But also, my extended Christian family of friends and co-workers. The love, support, and strength that they all poured into me, that they continue to pour in to me, is overwhelming. I love each of them so much, and would still be in my hole without them.
With one group of friends, I read through the book by Beth Moore, So Long Insecurity. How much I identified with her message in that book! Many things impacted me, but the biggest was a verse she discussed – Proverbs 31:25. “She is clothed in strength and dignity, and laughs without fear for the future.”
How badly I wanted to be this woman – strong, noble, fearless. How unlike her in every way I felt!
Here’s the thing, the world wants me to read that verse and interpret it like this – “YEAH! I AM strong! I AM fearless! I don’t need anything outside myself. I’ve GOT this! ”
“I am a kayak; hear me roar!” (Lorelai Gilmore, again).
Incorrect. I mean, I love my Gilmore Girls, but no.
In and of myself, I am none of those things. None of us are. I was created to be those things, I have inherent value given to me by my Creator to achieve those things. Sin has crippled my ability to BE those things, though. No amount of self-help is going to get me to that place of security. No amount of strut, swagger, or good ol’ ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ is going to get me where I want to be and allow me to STAY there.
The verse does not say “She IS strength and dignity” or even “She HAS strength and dignity.” It says “She is CLOTHED in strength and dignity.” These clothes are mine for the taking, but they come through a relationship with my Creator and Savior. They are His gift to me.
Paul addresses this idea as well, in both 2 Corinthians and Philippians. In both epistles, he emphasizes the struggles, trials, and persecution he has endured. He highlights his own humanity, being honest about his weaknesses. His conclusion is the same in both letters – God uses our weaknesses for His glory, and God gives us both the strength and the grace to walk with Him wherever He leads.
So, I got a tattoo. It is on my foot and it says “Strength and Dignity.” This tattoo is my forever reminder that wherever my journey takes me, if I walk in the Lord I will also walk with strength and dignity. They are His gifts to me. And God is a generous gift-giver.