Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Appearance of a Radical Life

When our boys were small we moved to a neighborhood with a community pool and we spent many happy summers there. But one summer I remember meeting a new neighbor. This neighbor was a young father with twin boys. I’ll never forget the first time I saw him in the pool—complete with large tattoos and body piercing. I had the urge to draw my boys close and protect them from this scary stranger. I’m glad I didn’t act on this first impression. As I watched him play with his boys and saw the love he lavished on them it was obvious he was a good dad.

I’d conveniently forgotten the entire episode until this past summer, when our oldest son and his wife came to live for a few months. Our son had just received his honorable discharge from the Marine Corps and I was so excited he’d be able to spend some time there, introducing his wife to the neighborhood where he’d grown up and getting used to being a civilian again.

His first day at the pool I got there first. I settled into a deck chair, chatting with several neighbors and catching up on the winter’s happenings. As I was visiting, I noticed several people stop and stare. I glanced at the entrance and was excited to see it was my son, soon others in the neighborhood would be able to welcome him home.

As I watched thought, the reception wasn’t what I expected. You see, while my son was in the military he’d acquired some body art. His tattoos aren’t objectionable—several are Christian in their messages—but they are tattoos. I was immediately transported back to my reaction so many years ago—but this time the scary man was my son. I immediately rushed to his side and re-introduced him to neighbors who didn’t recognize him. The atmosphere changed and he was welcomed back with all the joy I could have hoped.

But the experience stays with me.

I asked God what He wanted me to take away from this and these are the thoughts I’ve had.
  • Tattoos: What difference could I make if I was so marked by the love of God that people stopped and stared?
  • Piercing: How would my life change if my heart was truly pierced for Him?
  • Long Hair: What would happen if people could visibly see that I’m covered by God’s grace?
  • Chains: How I wish the world could see the chains that no longer bind me.

Kind of makes you think—at least it did me.

Don't forget to join the conversation,


  1. Love this Edie.... Let us all be marked..

  2. Amen, Edie! I often think about the verse, "But by the grace of God go I." Says it all, doesn't it?

    Hope you are doing well,

  3. My daughter has a couple of tattoos--none that you can see on "typical" clothes days. Each one is significant to her. We had some long, hard talks before she made those visits to the tattoo parlor--and her dad went with her. I express myself with the written word. My daughter expresses her self with tattoos.
    And I have learned not to judge--to look past the body art to the person. Because one of "those" people is my child.

  4. Love this one! My husband and daughter both have a tatoo so I'm good with that. I just have to be careful not to judge those other things that are outside my comfort level. Thanks for the reminder to look beyond my prejudices.

  5. Wow, Edie. You make me think. I love your take-aways.

    Tattoos as being marked by Christ's love, having a heart pierced for Christ, Hair as covering of God's grace, and being freed from chains that have bound us in the past. Important things to think on as we examine our lives.

  6. I love the way your mind works. This is awesome! Now I'm going to think of this every time I see someone tatted and pierced.

    When it comes to first impressions, I had to overcome mine. Paul rides with the Combat Vets (they make up a large part of the Patriot Guard riders) and it's a bunch of tattooed bikers. But you will never, ever in your whole life meet a group of people with bigger servant hearts. These guys are amazing.

  7. Thank you for this reminder. I just wrote about this myself a few weeks ago. Sometimes we cocoon ourselves too much with our Christian friends who look and talk like us, that we forget that there ARE Christians who have tattoos, piercings, colored hair, etc. It's not about the outside but the transformation on the insides. Sometimes I think I'd like to have a tattoo of something symbolic of my faith, truly marked on the skin for my creator.

    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

  8. Thank you for this post, Edie. Our oldest son, a worship pastor in Ohio, has several tattoos. Each one has a significant meaning and he's had the opportunity to share Christ due to other's interest in them.