Tag Archives: ink

the one where i tell you why. (or tattoos, and how getting inked saved my identity)

several times a week, without fail, i get asked about my tattoos.

sometimes it is a seminarian wanting to translate the hebrew on my left wrist.  sometimes it is an artist wanting to inspect the freestyled filigree on my right hand.  sometimes it is just someone admiring the art.  but more often than not, it is just someone who doesn’t know that they need to be reminded of who they are.

i’ve written before about my tattoos and why i have them.  but the words i chose to have permanently emblazoned on my skin, and the stories behind those words, bear repeating as often as necessary (even if i am only talking to myself).

i have three tattoos- ‘beloved’ on my left wrist; ‘beautiful’ on my right forearm; and ‘blessed’ on my left foot.  the two arm tattoos were birthday gifts to myself, and the one on my foot i got with my sister, who i consider one of my best blessings.  i chose the words ‘beloved’ and ‘beautiful’ because i needed to be reminded that i AM those things.  parts of my story are shaped by the fact that i listened to voices that told me i was anything but beloved or beautiful for a long time.  those words inked into my skin are both an act of rebellion against those who would have me believe a lie, and a bold agreement with the voice of the only One who has the authority to name me.  and He proclaims that i am His- and thus dearly loved, so much so that my name is graven on His hands and that He died to make a way for me to be clean before Him.  He proclaims that because He made me, and because He loves me, and because He made me clean, that i am beautiful- because He makes no mistakes, and because He calls out “it is good!” over His handiwork.

my tattoos are for me- daily, sometimes hourly, reminders of who i am.  but i chose to get them in locations on my body where others would see them so that they would see, and also know, and maybe be reminded who they are.

you are beautiful, and you are beloved.

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by definition.

samantha ….

  • daughter
  • sister
  • friend
  • student
  • ex-girlfriend
  • former employee
  • leader
  • servant
  • follower
  • writer
  • reader
  • mentor
  • teacher
  • imperfect
  • impatient
  • unfocused
  • lacking
  • tired
  • unlovable
  • too much
  • not enough
  • complicated
  • beautiful
  • blessed
  • loved
  • funny
  • sarcastic
  • critical
  • short
  • ………..

the list continues.  some of these are ‘hats’ that i wear; some are attributes; some are words i would use to describe myself- others are words other people would use to describe me.  while some are true and others are not, those words don’t define me.  this is something i’ve been thinking about alot lately, especially in light of recent events in my life.  (for more on that, see previous posts :)) but awhile back, jon acuff (author of the ‘stuff christians like’ blog) wrote about this topic- so timely and just what i needed to be reminded of.  i won’t elaborate other than to tell you to read the post here.

i wrote several months ago about the fact that my tattoos help me remember who i am- they are all words that describe my position or identity in christ.  but he is the only one who is qualified to answer the question i’ve been asking myself- the question we all ask ourselves- “who am i?” the one who created us is the one who gets to answer that- no one else.

i know this. i mean, i KNOW this. but sometimes i still forget, or i let that knowledge get a little fuzzy. what i’m learning now is that while i know who gets to define me, and even some of the words he uses- that definition is never complete (at least not this side of heaven). as long as christ keeps conforming me to his character, and as long as i keep walking this crazy journey known as life, i am ever changing. ever growing. ever learning. ever deepening. ever becoming.

this means that i might not ever know myself fully. while i’m not a huge fan of this idea, the flip side is that there is still the power to change, improve, and surprise.  those are good things. because its disheartening to be 28 years old, have two master’s degrees, and still not know what i’m doing with my life. i know i’m working out of a funk, so all of this is coming out of a place i shouldn’t be in anyways. but my state of mind (and heart) right now does serve to make me glad that the rest of my story is yet to be revealed. who i am, by definition of sanctification, isn’t nailed down yet. there is hope for me, and for all of us.

oh christ, be the center of our lives

be the place we fix our eyes

be the center.

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days like today are why i have tattoos.

there are days when it is all i can do to remember who i am.

i’m sitting in my office right now, writing discussion boards for one class and grading them for another. its raining, and has been for days. i’m in a funk.

there are days when it is all i can do to remember who i am.

i’m sitting in my office, surrounded by post-it notes- the multicolored stickies wallpaper my cube, and tell me how much my friends love me.  i spent most of the day at church, volunteering for three out of the four services we put on today- i was thanked and affirmed over and over! i got new rain boots yesterday and lost track off how many people told me how adorable they were. if there was ever a day when i had the praise of men, today would be it.

but those things, however sweet, aren’t who i am.

if you’ve ever read this blog before, you know i have two tattoos.  one is on my left wrist- ‘beloved’ in hebrew and english; the other is on the top of my left foot- ‘blessed’.  this isn’t about whether or not you think i should have tattoos.  this is about me reminding myself who i am. ‘beloved’ is who god sees when he looks at me. ‘blessed’ is who i am in him. days like today, when i can’t remember who i am, i just look down.

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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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