The original title for this was going to be Tattooed and Twenty-ish but that was too narrow because it’s about more than tattoos. I’ll be twenty-something for quite awhile and I will always be tattooed but this story runs much deeper than the ink in my skin. It is about tattoos but there’s more to it than just another young person discussing epidermis admiration, it is also about grace, anchors and arrows.
Life is a balance between letting go and holding on or more specifically, holding fast which means more than getting a grip. It’s more to the effect of; even if the rope is causing your palms to bleed and shred do not let go. On the other hand, or maybe I should say on my other wrist, is the term let go which is more than loosening pressure, it’s about relinquishing control. Contrary to what I thought before, it is much harder to let go than it is to hold fast. I for one cannot do either of these skills without Christ. My new tattoos or as I like to think of them, my new friends, my permanent pals, with me till death, are so much more than a recent ‘Tattoosday’ celebration. One of my wrists says “Let Go” and the other has the phrase “Hold Fast” bouncing with my hand as I type in the weird way that I do, which I consider to be a personal trademark. The script is so fine I wish it were my handwriting, instead I’m a writer with the penmanship of a toddler on crack.
Let go is not just a piece of advice or part of how we forgive. It is not just a hit Disney ballad. Let go and let God is more than ‘Christianese’ it is the best way to move on (giving it to God doesn’t mean that it will be easy and it will probably hurt at first, but it is the best way to handle situations.) Life’s burdens were not meant for us to carry, they belong at the foot of the cross. Even if you’re like me and have a tendency to go back and pick up the concerns you just laid down, keep praying. God sees you. Your effort to honor Him with trust does not go unnoticed. Keep trying, keep practicing; keep praying. You’ll be surprised at the level of “let go” skill you rapidly develop. Even if you can’t even see, feel, or smell a hint of what you desire, let go anyway because your dreams are not behind you. If they were you wouldn’t be dreaming anymore. Walk by faith even if your legs are shaking.
“Change is constant. How we experience change, that’s up to us. It can feel like death, or it can feel like a second chance at life. If we open our fingers, loosen our grips, go with it, it can feel like pure adrenaline. Like at any moment we can have another chance at life.”-Grey’s Anatomy.
Through my writing for publications like Skin Art and Tattoodo, I’ve learned so much about the body art industry. I’m still partial to black and gray realism (artists like Paolo Murtas in particular) and for some reason I cannot stop adoring nautical elements like sparrows, stars, and anchors which are popular in the traditional genre of tattoos that I enjoy despite the fact that traditional elements often look like out of place stamps on the skin. The term “Hold Fast” has nautical roots and is used in Navy terminology. It’s so urgent and intense. It is a phrase that would be announced as a strict, fervent, command. So what’s my connection, do I know someone in the Navy or do I have a sailor’s background? No to both, the root of the phrase is what sticks to me, holding on for dear life. When we refuse to relinquish, what is it that makes us bold enough to hold so tightly? Why expend so much effort, energy, and muscle into a belief, a person, or a goal? How do we maintain such a tight grasp?
The balance between holding on and letting go is a faith issue I’ve been praying through for quite sometime. What could possibly be worth keeping in a death grip? What about the other side of the seesaw? How do we know when to hold on and when to let go? Can we do both? Is it possible to cherish the good despite the bad? Yes it is. That’s the part where God’s grace comes in. A now ironic post I composed entitled: Let Go explains relinquishing it better detail.
Grace is such a vast concept it’s kind of like the sky. It’s just there all the time, although, it looks different depending on if it’s day or night. There’s constant grace, which is new every morning to those who believe. Grace is also there for those who don’t believe because it is that abundant and God is that loving. Then there’s specific grace for those who either wind up in or are called to dark places in the world. There’s also situational grace, which personally applies to different individual’s faith walks and those they encounter along life’s path. The thing about God’s grace is that it moves and if we don’t move with it we get stuck. An example would be when things and people that were once smooth as silk feel like driving over endless potholes. Sometimes life is rough and it’s about developing strength or testing faith but other times God has already blessed that scenario and the grace is moving so keep up. Believers can get themselves stuck in a place where I was recently wedged myself which is asking for the grace of God to return to something that just doesn’t seem to have it anymore. I know now how wrong of an approach that is. Grace is there but it’s not meant to be sat on, it can’t be misused. My job title is not Director of Grace Application. It’s a gift from God so He decides where it goes. Go with the grace otherwise what was once a grace place will just become a gross place.
Piercing through my Let Go tattoo is an arrow and at the end of Hold Fast there’s an anchor (arrow and anchor-typical white girl tattoos I know, but there’s extensive meaning to those additions so no quick judgment.) You know you are a writer when things drenched in symbolism cause feelings that surpass excitement. The purpose of an arrow is to hit a target. An arrow cannot do what it was made for unless the archer releases the bowstring. An arrow cannot fly as it’s designed to until it is let go. In order to fire accurately the archer has be in proper alignment with sight, stance, and grip. To get a good shot the arrow needs to be pulled back to a precise point of tension, that pressure point is called the anchor. How do we know when to let go? When we’ve secured the anchor. Anchors are designed to keep a boat in place. The anchor prevents any drastic deviation from the proper course of travel. The anchor is security. To a sailor the anchor is sacred. What’s our anchor? What can we depend on? What do we have that we know will not fail? “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain.”-Hebrews 6:19 (ESV) This gorgeously symbolic verse would have been a good fit beside by tiny anchor, but the bible is overflowing with words that feed the soul just like these. Instead of deciding which ones to tattoo I’ll continue to stuff them all inside my heart instead because there’s much more room. Let Go and Hold Fast are simple ways of stating the detailed reminders to stay in the grace places and avoid all the gross ones.