“If at the end of the day, all I have to show for my life is that I know You more, that’s enough. You are enough. You provide enough. You say that You are enough for me. I am called and purposed to worship, first and foremost. Any work that I do, anything contributed to the kingdom, comes out of a place of worship.”
“And what about the numbers? The statistics? The overwhelming realities of 27 million people stuck in human trafficking, the orphans and starving children, the abused and refugees, the people with their own brokenness and rejection? What of them? The numbers are too overwhelming, and You are telling me that it is ‘enough’ to be before You and worship You. The answer? It is God who saves the world, it is God who redeems the broken. All work and acts of justice and compassion DO come from a place of worship before You. You’ve got Your eye on the sparrow after all…the statistics don’t overwhelm You.”
These are journal entries from 18 months ago when I got my wrists tattooed, and the process in my heart that led to me having them engraved on my skin forever.
When I got my first tattoo 7 years ago, someone made a comment along the lines of “You’re supposed to write God’s word on your heart, not on your back”. The other night, an older missionary couple from the organization I’m with sat with me over dinner and asked to hear my story. They asked what each of my (now 6) tattoos meant. When they prayed for me, he said “Lord, we love how the story of Your grace and acceptance and your name is written on Kathryn”. I love that.
So, let me share the stories of the tattoos.
“Because You have been my help, in the shadow of Your wings, I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You, Your right hand upholds me.”
The first tattoo was my 23rd birthday present to myself. It’s the one on top, with the writing. The lettering is actually one of my bestie’s handwriting, Molly, which she still comments is strange to see on someone’s skin forever. The quote is Psalm 63:8, and I’ve always imagined that spot, just between my shoulders, as the place where God puts His hand and leads me along the way through life. The feather is my most recent addition, just from this past year, and actually represents the verse just before it, Psalm 63:7, about rejoicing in the shadow of God’s wings.
This one is also a design of Molly’s–perhaps she should go into the business! She designed both for me at the same time, but there were 5 years in between getting my back tattooed and my arm. Everyone had told me that tattoos were addictive, and I wanted to make sure I really liked the first one before committing to another one. Why “Beloved”? Because that’s what God calls me. That’s how He refers to me. There is so much negative that comes against a girl in this world, it’s good to have a reminder of the one name and one opinion that really matters. I ended up getting it a few months after I had been attacked in Africa, after I had been home for a bit and had started to walk through the healing process. That day, I actually got 2 tattoos, but I’ll mention the other one later.
“Enough” and a Sparrow
When I moved up to Alaska, it was originally intended to just be for about 3 months. I had a lot to process and a lot to heal from. Really, I was in a place where I felt like I had had this dream and it had gotten taken away from me when I was attacked. I had all these great plans for what I was going to “do for God” and contribute to the Kingdom. Then I stayed in Alaska longer, and felt like I needed to give up all my big plans and dreams and ideas and let God do a work in my heart. About 9 months in, right in the middle of the dark and cold of winter, I came to a place of surrender and understanding. The words I wrote at the beginning of this post were the conclusions I came to during that season. I said to God “You know, I’ve desired to be on the mission field for as long as I can remember. But if You put me here in Alaska, in a tiny village, and I stay here forever and this is the life You’ve called me to, then that is great. I’ll let go of my other plans. In the end, it only matters that I know You more.” After the tattoos and 8 more months, I realized that God was handing me back my dreams and new work to do. I am so grateful.
And then the last one, the tiny tat, and my matching tattoo! The day that I went to get the “Beloved” tattoo, Kacy Lou and I also got tiny matching semicolons. Why punctuation? Well, first of all, Kacy is an English teacher, so it’s nice to have something nerdy with my nerdy friend. But there is deeper meaning behind it. In writing, you use a semicolon to say “I could stop here but I choose to keep going”. At the time, that was very representative of life and of being a Christian. I was feeling sucker punched and confused and had a lot of questions for God. So, a semicolon seemed fitting. Now, I look at it as an “Ebenezer” of sorts–a remembrance of the story that God has written for my life so far, and a symbol of hope for what the story will continue to be.