Monday, August 8, 2011

Part Two: Tattoo

It's official.

I got a tattoo.

WHAT?! That sweet, little Baptist girl from the bible belt of Arkansas permanently marked her body with Satan ink? Yup. well, something like that.

I've actually been thinking about this tattoo thing for a while. Well for 11ish months anyway. You see, this year has been such a pivotal year in my life and I wanted something to commemorate that. To be a reminder of the amazing truths revealed in and over my life. And, what better way than a tattoo, right?

So, I should probably go ahead and preface this story with the fact that needles quite often cause me to pass out. Awesome. Like the time that I gave blood. Or the time I had to get 473 shots to make sure I didn't contract any crazy diseases while overseas (okay, so maybe it was more like 5). Or the time when a transvestite pierced my nose, without using a piercing gun, I might add, for $1.50 in Thailand. (Just ask Stacey Hume, she will be more than happy to give you the dramatic version of that story). Long story short, I don't do well with needles. There, I said it.

So, a couple weeks back I was sitting across the table from my good friend Ashley Musick. Just chatting about life, eating a scrumptious meal after a morning at church, when I notice the tattoo on her wrist. I quickly begin to inquire about the design, where she got it done, and the ever famous question of "how bad did it hurt?" She sweetly answers all my questions and then pauses to ask... "wait, do you have a tattoo?"

Before I know it, I am sharing with her about this huge theme of my life. About my identity in Christ. About how this year has been absolutely monumental is establishing who I am as a daughter of a King. About the fact that I no longer am obligated to the things of this world, that I belong to a greater kingdom, and that I am ROYALTY.

That's it. My tattoo. ROYALTY.

That word alone reminds me so quickly of who I am. Not what I do, but who I am. Of that one thing in my life that can never be changed, never be taken. I forever am the daughter of the King of Kings, and while I am here on earth I have a responsibility to that Kingdom.


"That's perfect." Ashley replies. "Let's go get it."

Wait. What? Now. Oh yeah... P.S. I am probably going to pass out. Maybe throw up. And you will have to hold my hand. Still wanna go?

We called a couple of friends and then quickly searched the internet for local tattoo shops, scribbled down a few addresses, and jumped in the car. All to soon be reminded that it is Sunday. No tattooing on Sunday. Bummer. Apparently making sure you can't buy alcohol or get tattoos on Sundays makes you holier. Hmmmm....

To shake off the "no tattoo" blues, I settled for a very large cone of Bruster's Ice Cream, most which most ended up on either the ground or my dress (yes, I still have a couple of 5 year old tendencies). However, still very determined to be brave and go through with this.

Finally the day arrives. Tattoo Tuesday. My friend Ashley and I march back down to the tattoo place, brave pants pulled up high. I walk in, expecting to have at least a short wait, and quickly find myself sitting on a vinyl covered, black stool with my left arm extended in front of me, the layout of the word ROYALTY starring back. In front of me sits a very burly man, tattoos up and down his arm, ink gun in his hand. Yup. We're at the right place.

I am determined that I will not pass out. Determined, mind you. I quickly look over at Ashley and say "Just don't let him stop at ROY. Whatever happens, he must finish." She gives a quick giggle and before I know it the buzzing of the gun begins. I turn back to Ashley "Quick, tell me a story. Anything." Bless her heart, she does her very best to keep me distracted... but soon enough I find my eyes getting a little blurry. And then there's that blasted ringing sound. Sweat droplets start to form on my forehead. I've only made it two letters in and I am not fairing well. This can't be good.

The lady behind the front counters steps in to check on me, and quickly sees that I am not doing so hot. Before I know it, she has a jar full of sugary snacks in front of me, asking which one I want. "Do you want cherry, or strawberry? or Watermelon or grape?" Really, lady. I don't care. I just want it to be in my mouth. Now.

Left arm still on the table. Right hand holding Ashley's. Sucker stick hanging out the side of my mouth... I finish my tattoo like a champ. Even found the courage to watch as he finished off the second half. Brave pants still on. Tattoo adventure. Success.

Will I still love my tattoo 40 years from now? Who knows? But, even 40 years from now it will still speak boldly of who I am. Even now, multiple times a day my tattoo will catch my eye. And each time it's a quick reminder of this year of my life. It's a quick reminder of my purpose. Of my identity. Of my responsibility to the Kingdom. Of life abundantly greater than I can ever imagine.

I am ROYALTY. And so are you.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Part One: Identity Crisis

just a couple of days ago i officially started packing up the room i grew up in.  i removed all the plaques from the walls, and then stared down into boxes full of trophies, awards, pictures, and other mementoes of my childhood.  don’t worry, even at 25 my parents aren’t kicking me out just yet.  instead, i am packing up and repainting this room so that when the time officially comes, my new haitian sister will have a room to call her own (which is a whole other blog in itself).

piece by piece, i was vividly reminded of who i am.  maybe more so of who i was.  you see, i’ve always been the kind of person who got something in my head, went after it, succeeded, and then had the paperwork to show it.  a box full of academic awards; scholarship achievements, 4.0 plaques, the most outstanding graduate award from my college, and the dried up flowers from my homecoming court debut.  a box of church related awards; scripture memory achievements, religious debate awards, service project acknowledgements.  a box full of leadership achievements and fancy invitations to special events and conferences.  and finally, a box filled with athletic achievements; player of the game awards, all conference team acknowledgements, along with trophies and medals from multiple summer league championships.

and while all those shiny awards and achievements once claimed the walls and shelves of my room, it felt fitting to finally pack them into boxes.  that’s not to say that any of those achievements were wrong or unwarranted.  the issue lies within the fact that competition, success, and perfection were the driving forces of my life.  they defined who i was, they defined my expectations, they defined my identity.  without them, i would have fallen short.  i would have failed.  and failure was never an option.

yet throughout this past year, God has slowly (and quite painfully) begun to strip me of what i once thought was my identity.  what i once thought i had to live up to.  of the perfection i thought was necessary in my life, especially in my walk with Him.  instead of perfection, i experienced failure.  instead of always being able to succeed, i found myself in situations that i could not change, circumstances i could not overcome.  over and over, i fell on my face.   over and over, i sat in brokenness.  over and over, i was reminded that falling short is what warrants my desperate need for my Papa. 

each time i fell, my Papa picked me up and spoke graciously into my identity.  into who i really was.  those things, all the expectations i had once lived up to, they aren’t who i am.  they are temporary, all set by my own expectations.  instead, this year i have been reminded that who i am is a child of God.  who i am is a daughter of a king.  i am ROYALTY.  i did nothing to deserve that status.  nor can i do anything to take it away.  it's who i am, it's ingrained deep into my being.  nothing about that is temporary.  that’s who i am, that’s who i’ve always been.  nothing, not even life can take that away.

no amount of awards or successes can increase his love for me.  no amount of memory verses will change the way he sees me.  i already belong to him, i belong to his kingdom, i have been adopted into the royal family, and i have an inheritance to claim.  my identity lies in Him and Him alone.  i am called to step into that royalty, to acknowledge my responsibility to the kingdom, and walk alongside the king of kings.  the one who created all claims ME as his own... that’s all He expects of me, to simply be His.