wemmicks, and a tattoo.

thoughts from serious wednesday:

no one, not even me really, gets to define me.  that ability belongs to god alone. we may try to mark ourselves and others, but those marks don’t define a person.  i’m not saying that our experiences don’t shape us, that they don’t cause us to view ourselves a certain way or affect how we think and act- but we are more than the sum of our experiences.  we hear alot of voices- some puff us up, some beat us down, some are static.  and then there are the silent voices in our lives; rather the ones who should have spoken and didn’t.

the name of my blog is ‘beloved tattoo’.  that’s because i have the word ‘beloved’ tattooed on my left wrist in english and hebrew.  just about everyone who notices it tells me that its beautiful, and i would agree (which is good, since i chose it and its going to be on my body for the rest of my life!).  while i did this to myself- marked myself- i did chose a word that i know god uses to define us.  the short version of the story behind that tattoo is that i needed a visual and permanent reminder of what the only voice that matters was saying about me.  i listened to the wrong voices for a long time- i let people leave their marks on me.  don’t tune out now … this isn’t a blog about self-respect of jesus thinking i’m a princess.  this is about the reality of the fact that no one else has the ability to define who samantha joy linton is.  only the one who thought me up and made me out of dust gets to do that.  only the one who came to earth as a squalling newborn, grew up perfectly and without sin, gave his life in exchange for mine and then rose again gets to do that.

max lucado wrote a childrens book several years ago- a series of them, in fact- about little wooden people called wemmicks.  in the first book, you are special, we learn about the wemmicks: all made by the woodcarver eli, all living in the same village, but all different.  and they all give each other stickers.  all day, every day- gray dots for bad things (like being mean, or clumsy, or ugly, or having brown hair instead of blonde) and yellow stars for good things (being a good athlete, or a good singer, or being pretty or smart).  the main character in the story is a little guy named punchinello.  he couldn’t seem to jump high enough- he always fell, which earned him a dot.  sometimes when he fell, his paint would get scratched, earning him another got. then he would try to explain but the words wouldn’t come out right, earning him another dot. and some wemmicks gave him dots just because he already had dots, like he deserved them just because. ” ‘he deserves lots of dots,’ the wooden people would agree with one another. ‘he’s not a good wooden person.’ after a while, punchinello believed them. ‘i’m not a good wemmick,’ he would say.” he eventually gets so many dots that he doesn’t want to come outside anymore. then he meets lucia- a wemmick with no dots or stars! people would try to give them to her, but none of them stuck to her.  punchinello asked her how she managed to not have anyone’s marks stick to her, and she told him to go see the woodcarver eli.  so punchinello makes the long hike up the hill to eli’s workshop, fearful of what eli will say when he sees everyone’s marks on him.  ” ‘looks like you’ve been given some bad marks.’ ‘i didn’t mean to, eli! i tried really hard!’ ‘oh, you don’t have to defend yourself to me, child. i don’t care what the other wemmicks think.’ ‘you don’t?!’ ‘no, and you shouldn’t either. who are they to give stars and dots? … what they think doesn’t matter, punchinello.  all that matters is what i think.  and i think you are pretty special.’ “

i know what you’re thinking: that i’m sappy and full of crap.  but listen to what eli says when punchinello asks why: ” ‘because you’re mine.  that’s why you matter to me.‘ the stickers only stick if they matter to you.  the more you trust my love, the less you care about their stickers.’ ”  as punchinello leaves eli’s shop, eli reminds him: ” ‘you are special because i made you. and i don’t make mistakes.’ “

there are days, seasons even, where life is hard.  where relationships end because someone was unfaithful and broke your heart, where you wreck your car and don’t have money for another one, where someone that you’ve looked up to your whole life crushes your dreams in a single conversation, where someone hurts you purposefully and does everything in their power to mark you. and while those things suck, and while they shape the way that we view things, how easily we trust, who we choose to open ourselves up to, and what voices to listen to, they do not define us.  i am not defined by things someone says to or about me when they are in a bad mood. i am not defined by a broken relationship where a guy i loved cheated on me.  i am not defined by what someone else believes i should be doing with my life or by their definition of success. i am not defined by what i think about myself, or even what you think about me. i am defined as god’s child- made in his image, purchased with his own body.  and when god looks at me, he doesn’t see my stupidity, or my clumsiness, or my many faults, or my epic failures, or my pride. he sees his daughter, the one that he calls beloved.  that changes things. that changes everything.

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