I’ve heard that tattoos are addictive. Maybe that’s true, because I got a second one. (Mom, I haven’t lost sight of sky-diving one day, fyi). A couple of years ago, I was pretty adamant that I would never get one. Honestly, needles have always freaked me out a little and I am a huge baby about pain. Fun fact, though, tattoos actually don’t hurt that much. That’s the first question people ask me.
People have different reasons for getting tattoos. When I got my first tattoo, I was inspired by Proverbs 31:25 and wanted a constant reminder that God has clothed me in strength and dignity. Coming out of an incredibly difficult season of life, I wanted to look back on that year and remember what God taught me rather than my circumstances.
My second tattoo came from a similar place. God has been teaching me about His grace recently. The lessons I am learning are big and hard, and I am still processing much of it. About a month or so ago, I was wrestling with a serious need to see God’s vengeance. Wrestling may not be the right word. I was borderline consumed.
There’s a very good reason that I am not God. I would be a terrible god, mimicking the emotional stability of the Greek gods. When I was angry, everyone would feel it. When I was happy, everyone would know that, too. And let me tell you, those emotions change quickly, so, everyone would also have to be on their toes ALL the time. It would be chaos.
I don’t understand how God’s justice works, but I am so thankful that the Psalms show us that it is okay to struggle with that, and to ask for God to intervene when we experience harm because of others’ sin. But, I was overlooking the endings of those imprecatory Psalms to which I gravitated. After David cries out for vengeance, he almost always ends by praising God for who He is and submitting his desires to God. God is a God of justice, but He is also a God of grace and mercy. I don’t have to plead with God to be just. I don’t have to plead with God to be loving. Both attributes are part of God’s character, and He will never deny His own character.
I woke up one morning with a very clear thought – God gets to decide when and how He shows grace. Just like He gets to decide when and how He shows justice. My job is to accept the grace He offers me, grace that will empower me to do whatever He asks me to do. My job is to repent when I fail to follow His path.
Grace is often defined as God’s unmerited favor. The idea of grace is that God bestows on us good gifts that we can neither earn or repay. Those gifts come from God’s love for us.
I shared my thoughts with a few friends, and told them if I ever got another tattoo, it would say “choose grace.” One of my friends offered to pay for me to get it. What a gift! The tattoo I ended up with simply says “grace”. There’s something so poetic about having a tattoo that says “grace” that also models what grace is – a gift. Now I have my forever reminder.