Tag Archive: Faithful In Serving Him


Following on from the previous post asking if it is okay for a follower of Jesus to get a tattoo, i thought i would share the story behind my tattoo:

THE PLACE

For the longest time i thought it was going to be tennis ball sized and on my left shoulder. Then quite recently, when i started seriously thinking about it [has been on and off thought for at least five years] i realised that the only time that would be seen would be when i wore a vest or took my shirt off. And since i don’t take my shirt off all that often, that seemed like a bit of a waste. Inspired by my wife, tbV’s tat on her left wrist, i started to think that something on my arm where people could see it [but where i could cover it up if necessary] might be a better idea.

THE DESIGN

The main reason i did not get a tattoo years ago, was that i could never figure out exactly what the design was going to be.

i mentioned in the previous post how, the time i felt i got permission from God to get a tattoo, the phrase ‘Seek first His Kingdom’ from Matthew 6.33 was in my head and so i always thought it would be that. It was very much a being marked for Jesus verse and would leave not too much doubt about the meaning of my tat.

i even started a Facebook group a while back and invited artistic friends of mine to submit ideas and drawings, but not enough people took that up and the ones that did were pretty awful [sorry, but they were!]

i spent a lot of time at different intervals searching around on Uncle Google, trying to see if he had any ideas, but mostly got ideas of things i didn’t want anywhere near my body, than things that i did.

Last year when i turned 40 i was given a bunch of money from some really great friends and i decided to put it towards my tattoo and so for a year i have had the inclination and now the opportunity and all i needed was the actual tattoo.

And then Val beat me to it while we were in Americaland, and while i was super happy for her getting a really great tattoo that she was happy with, i felt no closer to having something i was happy with.

Apart from the phrase, it was always going to be likely that i had something F.I.S.H. themed as my nickname is Fish which stands for Faithful In Serving Him and so i started to think that might be a viable option. i have always liked the Christian fish symbol, or Icthus, which represented the words for Jesus, Christ, God, Son, Saviour and so played around with ideas on that:

icthus

i had also played around with the idea of the crown of thorns [which Jesus was made to wear on the cross as a form of mocking Him claiming to be the King of the Jews] and the idea of using nails to make the fish symbol which i had seen and liked before:

Eventually, with my 41st birthday approaching, and having not gotten my tattoo done in Americaland, i decided i just needed to do something. So i put a call out on Facebook and a friend of mine suggested a friend, and found me an email address and i emailed her and arranged a meeting. i arrived for the meeting and the shop’s name was ‘The Devil’s Rejects’, which is a little bit of an off-putting name for a follower of Jesus, until i realised that as a follower of Jesus, that pretty much does qualify me as a devil’s reject and so how appropriate. i had emailed Christina some of my vague ideas and so felt pretty dumb when i sat in front of her and she asked me if i had any more and i said, “No, not really.” But as we chatted i moved from the idea of a picture of a fish to simply the letters of F.I.S.H. [one of my motivations was a conversation starter in terms of being able to share about my faith] and we spoke a bit about the kind of lettering i had imagined and even though we didn’t progress very far, by the time i left, i felt like i had some ideas to work with. My Facebook community suggested a place to hunt down some fonts and i discovered a few i thought might work and i sent her the idea for just the word F.I.S.H. and also my idea to have some crown of thorns type lines around the word as kind of edgy border. A day or two later, Christina sent me two potential designs. The first one pretty much fell into what i had asked for/suggested but was completely nothing like i was looking for. The second one in some ways was also not what i had been thinking at all, and yet it instantly dived off the page and into my heart and became exactly what i wanted. She had decided to go with the fish shape which i had given up on and i absolutely loved [and love] the design she came up with which kinda used the crown of thorns imagery i had sent her to create the shape of the fish. The writing was perfect and apart from moving the words ‘Faithful In Serving Him’ [which i had told her later i would like in cursive] from inside the fish to below the fish so it would be more legible and then lining it up with the curve of the fish, it was almost perfect. tatdesign i scheduled an appointment for a few days later [to give me time to do a blood donation which i have missed for three years while in Americaland, cos, you know, African blood!] and every day i would open up the email with the design and just be in love with it all over again. i think one of my biggest fears was that i would get to the point of getting a tattoo done being okay with it and not absolutely stoked. Settling is one of my biggest fears. But having wanted this for so long and spent so long trying to figure out what i wanted and never being quite happy with what i came up with, it just felt like it would never come together. But every day, a few times a day, i would open up the email and smile and be in love all over again. I had found my tattoo. And i was 95% happy with it. Loved loved loved the whole thing, but was a little nervous about the ‘i’. i had asked for it to be a small ‘i’ as opposed to the capitals of the F, S and H. This has significant meaning as one of my favourite verses in the bible is John 3.30 where John the Baptist is talking and says about Jesus, ‘i must become smaller, He must become bigger.’ This is the main reason i always write my ‘i’s as small and always capitalise the He and Him when referring to God. Just a simple tradition i have in place to honour God and remind myself that it is all about Him.

THE FINAL TWEAK

So when i sat down in front of Christina for the tattooing to happen, i explained to her i didn’t want to derail the process or freak her out as we were about to begin [i imagine rule #1 of Getting a Tattoo done is ‘Don’t piss off your Tattoo Artist!’] but the smallness of the ‘i’ was the only thing stopping it from being absolutely perfect. She immediately suggested a solution and BOOM! Game on. i cannot recommend Christina Andrianatos enough [she is so good she even tattoos herself sometimes – and she would even improve your Spongebob Squarepants tattoo if you asked her to] – so gracious and patient when she had to deal with this clueless guy trying to figure out the tattoo – and then great in communicating back and forth until we had something i was happy with – completely gentle and reassuring throughout the whole process – answering questions and completely professional in every aspect. After all, when she was done with me, i had one of these: 2015Tat Exactly! How hot is THAT??? So super happy, worth the wait and can’t wait for it to be fully healed up so that i am ready to go.

[For the answer to the question, ‘Just how painful is getting a tattoo?, click here]

tatpermiss

i have been asked this question a lot, from the Christ-following perspective of ‘Is it okay for a Christian to get a tattoo or not?’

And then yesterday i got my first one and so my opinion on the matter should be pretty easy to figure out.

The one verse i am aware of that speaks of it directly, can be found in Leviticus 19.28 which i thought said, ‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead,’ and i have always argued that it was a culturally specific thing that was talking directly to the process of marking yourself ‘for the dead’ which was a pagan ritual and therefore very different to what any Christians i know with tattoos were going for.

The only other verse i have ever heard quote against tattoos was the one in 1 Corinthians 6 which reads,

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

And to be honest, this feels a lot thinner as an argument against tattoos as the people raising it will not use the same verse as an argument against eating badly or not exercising and other things which are way more detrimental to your temple than a tattoo.

SEEK FIRST HIS KINGDOM

i clearly remember the time i was driving to the airport many years ago to pick up my parents and i had this sense of God telling me it was okay for me to get a tattoo. Not that i should get one, but that if i wanted to [as this was something i had been thinking about] then i could go ahead and do so. The verse that specifically came to mind was Matthew 6.33 that reads, ‘Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.’

So for me that was a significant moment of permission granted and for many years i thought i would get the phrase ‘Seek First His Kingdom’ as my tattoo. Again, not because God had said i should but cos i felt He had said it was okay.

The main thing i thought from that moment on though, was that i wanted a tattoo and specifically i wanted to be marked for Jesus. i wanted a mark on my body that signified that my life was given to Christ.

Which plays into the end of the Corinthians verse where it says, Therefore honor God with your bodies, which is exactly what i am hoping to do.

OR PUT TATTOO MARKS ON YOURSELVES

It was only much later, as in about ten minutes ago, that i checked up on that verse which i feel like i have checked out many times, just to make sure i was quoting it right when writing a post on it, to find that it actually reads like this:

28 “‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.

Oops. That seems a little more specific. i had not seen the second part of that verse before and it does seem a little hard to wiggle around, excepting that Mary Fairchild, in her article, ‘Should Christians have tattoos?’ gives a contextually helpful explanation of her feelings towards it [which i agree with] over here:

This is a question many Christians struggle with. I believe tattooing falls into the category of “disputable matters” where the Bible is not clear. But wait a minute, you might be thinking. The Bible says in Leviticus 19:28, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord.” (NLT) How much clearer can that be?

It’s important, however, to look at the verse in context. This passage in Leviticus, including the surrounding text, is specifically dealing with the pagan religious rituals of the people living around the Israelites. God’s desire is to set his people apart from other cultures. The focus here is prohibiting worldly, heathen worship and witchcraft. God forbids his holy people to engage in idolatrous, pagan worship and sorcery which imitates the heathens. He does this out of protection, because he knows this will lead them away from the one true God.

It’s interesting to observe verse 26, “Do not eat meat that has not been drained of its blood,” and verse 27, “Do not trim off the hair on your temples or trim your beards.” Well, certainly many Christians today eat non-kosher meats and get haircuts without participating in the forbidden worship of pagans. Back then these customs were associated with pagan rites and rituals. Today they are not.

She sums it up as falling into the category of disputable issues as related to in Romans 14, which among other things, gives permission to believers to eat food that was offered to idols in certain circumstances, and shifted the choice of getting a tattoo or not to one of motivation and awareness of those around you.

My sister, Dawn, summed it up in a similar way when she said to me that she doesn’t like the idea of people getting tattoos just for the sake of it, but when someone gets it for a specific reason, like i have in wanting mine for a number of years now, then she thinks that it great.

So the answer to the question, ‘Is getting a tattoo right or wrong?” is yes. And no. Depending on you and your circumstance and any weaker brother that may be watching.

i do feel like mine was sanctioned by God. and i did it intentionally to be marked for Jesus and to hopefully precipitate conversations with people when i explain what it means to me [there are a few levels] but more of that in the next post.

[To read the story of The History of my Tat and see the beautiful thing, click here]

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