Sunday, July 29, 2012

Weekend Worship—The Appearance of a Radical Life

Boys at the Pool!
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. Over the years, he became a welcome addition to the neighborhood

I’d conveniently forgotten the entire episode until the a few summers ago, 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 before him. I settled into a deck chair, chatting with several neighbors and catching up on the winter’s happenings. As I chatted, I noticed several people turn away to 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.

The Appearance of a Radical Life
As I watched though, the reception wasn’t what I expected. You see, while my son was in the military he’d acquired some body art. His tattoos weren'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 stayed 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.


  1. This is a repost from April of 2011

  2. Absolutely convicting, Edie! Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Yep, things like that always make me stop and remember that God sees the inside while man looks on the outside and that I need to be more like my Savior and get to know the person before judging. Thanks for the reminder again!

  4. Very timely post...even if it was a repost ;) This last week has held much discussion of tattoos and piercings. Miranda (18 yo) had a "rook" piercing put in her ear this week. Harmless enough I suppose, but she also has her heart set on a tattoo. Now, like your son, the tattoo she wants is the verse, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path," and she wants it on the inside arch of her foot. It actually looks neat, but like you said. It's a tattoo. It's made me think, "What opinions or conclusions to I jump to when I see a girl with piercings and tattoo?" I know Miranda's heart, and I know it's in the right place. Even if she is pierced and inked. I've had a paradigm shift I suppose. And after all that being said, my favorite part of your post was your take-aways. So insightful and thought provoking!

  5. Edie, I loved the last four bullet points! This was the first time I've read this post so I was pleasantly surprised with the ending. I salute you (and your son).:)

  6. Great reminder, Edie. Thank you for reposting it.

  7. Thank you, Edie, for your beautiful reminders. The Apostle Paul was pleased to wear on his body the "marks" of Christ. I know, his were scars. But I have to agree with your bullet points.

    Oh, that everyone could instantly see Jesus in me.


  8. Both my husband and daughter have tattoos, and I want one but hate needles, so probably that's never happening. It's uncomfortable to hear comments from friends who dislike tattoo, but more than that, it's uncomfortable to think about comments I've made that have been judgmental in nature, yet I felt righteous making them.

    I don't do that nearly as much. Life is humbling like that.