This colorful work of art is the culmination of 6 sessions of tattooing--totaling almost 14 hours of work. How much I paid, you may never know. Even so, I felt all the time and money was a bit justified. To some degree, sitting in that tattoo chair doubled as some of the counseling that got me through. If I was going to pay someone to hear me vent and talk about everything, I figured I should have something to show for it.
For this tattoo, I was certain of the meaning it was going to convey. I even knew where in Scripture I wanted the idea to come from. However, the exact details and how it should be executed were uncertain to me. So, I made the decision to turn my tattoo artist loose. I went into the shop, shelled out some cash for my deposit, and met with Nick to discuss the significance behind this work of art. I informed him I wanted this tattoo to represent the part God's presence had been playing throughout the previous 18 months. In short, I told him how I felt God was bringing order out of the chaos that was currently my life. We discussed how predominant that theme was in the creation account. Other than those two criteria, Nick was given free reign to create a masterpiece worthy of being displayed on my arm--permanently.
For the next several weeks I was antsy to see what he had come up with to represent this season of my life. When I came in to see the preliminary drawings, I was blown away. As we sat down and discussed his representation of the creation account and how it tied into my story, I couldn't help but think he had nailed it. He informed me that he read over the first few chapters of Genesis numerous times. It was the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the serpent that stuck out to him the most. The serpent and tree would would represent the chaos I had been experiencing for the past several months.
When Adam and Eve took a bite of the fruit from that tree, it would set the stage for humanity to live in a world full of chaos. The consequences of that one decision would echo through eternity. It would even affect those that didn't have any say in that decision. No longer would life be the same. Humanity would have to labor away to sustain life. Pain, agony and sorrow would now be an experience the world would have to endure. Creation would no longer walk in communion with God the way it once had. That one bite unleashed an evil on the world that was never meant to be seen. To a lesser degree, that is where I found my life. In the midst of the pain, agony and sorrow of divorce I was trying to pick up the pieces and reconnect with God. Although divorce was not my decision, it would forever alter the course of my life. The circumstances surrounding my divorce would wreak havoc on future relationships. Anyone willing to risk dating me would feel the full weight of the damage that was done. My nonchalant attitude toward them would cause frustration. My lack of trust would be a constant source of tension. My difficulty expressing feelings would be downright annoying. My hesitancy to commit would cause hurt and anger.
But that was only part of my story!
Through all of that, God was working on something. Although I couldn't see it, from the chaos he was bringing order. I caught glimpses of it here and there. The positive change in my attitude. A new perspective. An undeniable heart of compassion. My increasing trust in God. The growth of my faith. I knew, if this tattoo was going to be an altar to the work God was doing, these things had to be included. Which is why, after some more talking, Nick incorporated Michelangelo's 'Creation of Adam.' This, the season God seemed most distant, was the same season he was tirelessly working behind the scenes to bring me where I am today.
Every time I look at this tattoo, I am reminded of so many things. It reminds me that God is more than able to redeem even the most dire of situations. Today, years after my divorce, he is still redeeming and leveraging that pain for his good. Because of my experiences I have been able to walk with others going through divorce. It reminds me that I am truly blessed. Through this experience I have come to the realization that my life was never that bad; there will always be someone who has it worse. This tattoo reminds me of the persistence of God. Even though I had thrown my hands up in frustration, he saw me through it all. It reminds me of his abundant provision. At just the right time, God always brought friends and family who offered the encouragement I needed, a non-judgmental ear I could vent to, and support when I was spent. This experience has also given me a glimpse of the pain we put God through on a regular basis. But most of all, this tattoo reminds me of a God who will stop at nothing to rescue us from the hells of our own making. As Hebrews 4:15 informs as, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin."