Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Story: In a Nutshell

On my left arm, from shoulder to elbow, I have a tattoo. My tattoo took three hours to complete and a good chunk of my savings at the time. In script, sandwiched between roses at both top and bottom, my arm reads, "For I know the plans I have for you, [declares the L-rd,] plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Though the design is beautiful, over the following weeks, I struggled with the decision I'd made to get this large tattoo. I think a piece of that struggle had to do with what prompted the tattoo in the first place.

When I was eighteen, I fell in love. Shoving all my logic and my reason aside, ignoring the code I'd created for qualities my future mate must have, and blind to all but my feelings, I quickly got engaged. Over the next three years, I missed sign after sign that this relationship was not meant to be and I slowly lost sight of who I truly was and what I truly valued. Though I didn't think I was altering myself to please him, who I was changed subconsciously. College is a time of great change for most people and that was very true for me. At the start of freshman year, I was completely in love with the wrong man and only marginally faithful to G-d. As my collegiate career progressed, through the influence of my friends, professors, and classes, as well as the calling of the King Himself, I changed. I started to fall out of love with my fiance and draw closer to G-d. I may have realized the second part but it is only in retrospect that I can understand the first.

Before my King pulled me to Him, I ran away. I got scared I think and I wasn't ready to sacrifice the major life changing decision I'd already made, to give my life to this man, for a far off Creator who I didn't feel very close to. I felt my life could both serve Him and hold to the decision I'd made. Worse than that, I fell down a rabbit hole. I made some very large mistakes and I gave myself to him before I gave myself to Him. In the name of love, I broke the promise I'd made when I was nine years old. I had sex before I was married.

Only four months after I initially made that decision, G-d started to convict me. He laid it on my heart that what I was doing was wrong. But after talking out my confliction with a close friend, I tried to make things right with both G-d and my fiance. The resulting conversation was the worst fight I have ever been in. The heartache I felt that night, the number of tears I cried are something I wouldn't wish on another. Somehow, we put a band aid on our relationship and lasted another nine months. It took six months for him to be all but done and another three for G-d to fully work in me.

As my first relationship fell to pieces, I clung to G-d. I clung to His promise and His truth. I knew that He had plans for me that I knew nothing of. I knew He had a future for me and that He knew who my future husband was. I got my tattoo while I was still healing from my heartbreak. I took His promises and I had them engraved on my body. I struggled to come to terms with my tattoo at first. I wondered if I'd ever look at it and not think about my heartbreak. I wondered if I'd ever get over what went wrong in my life. I wondered how that story would affect my future. Then people started asking about it. I started encountering people outside of my circle, who didn't know my story. They'd see flowers poking out of my shirt and they'd admire the beautiful artwork. Inevitably, they'd be surprised at such a large tattoo on such a little girl. And they'd ask. They'd want to hear the story. Where are those words from? What made me chose that?

The tattoo on my arm started as a way to heal, a reminder of the promises He made and why I'd chosen to end my relationship, to sacrifice that part of myself. These days, it's so much more. On a regular basis, I have customers at work ask me what it says, admire the roses. I'm able to share an abbreviated version of my story with them. I'm able to tell them that all my plans fell apart but that I trust Someone else has better for me. And today I sit here, in Ohio for the first time in my life, my head resting on the arm of the man who now means the world to me. I know G-d has better plans for me. And today, I'm able to start living them. What's past is past and my future sits beside me. No matter what lies ahead of me, I know that G-d has a future in store for me and my tattoo is one small way that He reminds me of that on a daily basis.