It’s been nearly seven years in the making–this tattoo. The ups and downs and back and forth–the should I or shouldn’t I? Because, after all, it is permanent. Sometimes the word has changed. Sometimes the location has changed. But as the years have continued to progress, I knew that this word that had become so much more than just a word to me, but rather a directive–a way that I live my life. The testimony that my God has given me. I knew that I needed this truth branded on my body. Because it isn’t just about liking the word or the script or a lighthearted moment of just going for it. It is a truth that reaches so down deeply into the core of my being that I literally want it engraved on my skin for all the world to see. That’s what it means to me. Because this is what God has done in my life. I want to be branded by it.
Beauty. This is my word. This is my testimony. Even when it has seemed so entirely impossible, God has brought so much beauty into my life. And it isn’t so much about what has come out of it all–which is a blessing, to be sure. But it has something to do with the moments of sitting directly in the mess of life. Of deep suffering and feeling swallowed by grief and being broken beyond repair and yet knowing that even directly there in the fire, He was writing redemption all over it. It has to do with the willingness to sit there in my complete and utter brokenness and trusting even when I couldn’t see it yet that He was taking all my broken pieces and making something beautiful out of it all.
This is my testimony. This is what I have found but also all that I continue to seek. And I remember all the moments when He has given me eyes to see what should have been impossible to see except that He is God. So many pieces of my story that haven’t been told in full yet but where beauty was already being made. Sitting in a missions conference at my school so many years ago and hearing a stranger start talking about my personal tragedy as if it is a piece of history. The floodgates of grief opening wide for the first time as I truly felt what I could never comprehend as a child–the mom that was taken from me in the most horrific of ways. Beauty. Beauty waiting to be born through pain. And the fire I had to walk through in order to see it. Four months in England that was nothing but a grave. Standing atop a mountain in Lockerbie and looking out at all the world’s reasons to say no to God and all I could do was say yes despite it all. Beauty. So much loss. So much pain. So much trauma. So much time in the fiery furnace and there was never one second of it all when I doubted that He was making it all beautiful somehow.
And now, a different trial but one that somehow extends out of the broken journey that has come before. The ups and downs of a health journey that came out of nowhere that will become the testimony that I never wanted as the best of them usually are. Feeling overwhelmed and swallowed whole in a lot of ways but I want to remember what He has done before. How He has shown up in the most tragic and ungodly moments and has created and is creating still so much wonder and redemption and beauty out of it all. To remember to look for it even when I don’t want to see it. Because it is there. It is always there.
When I first started this blog when I was still very much in the thick of mourning my mom, I titled it “A Legacy of Beauty.” Because that is truly what God is writing in my life. Even in the moments when it doesn’t make sense. Even when it is nothing but dark. Even when it is covered in pain and sadness and I can’t see the light at the other side. There is beauty. There is so much beauty. Beauty being made out of our circumstances, yes. But also a beauty about the actual brokenness itself. To me, they exist together. You can’t have the one without the other. Every part of my story that is covered in redemption but that also means that I have to walk through moments that need redeeming.
I finally reached the moment where I just couldn’t go without having it any longer–having His beauty branded into my skin. This is my story. This is my testimony. This is my God. It’s an ebenezer–a memorial of all that God has done and how He has proved Himself faithful in the most broken of moments. A celebration of who He is and what He has done and what He is doing still. This is the story that He is writing with my life–beauty. His beauty that has been erupting from the deepest parts of me that how could I also not wear it outwardly?
He takes suffering and covers it in redemption. He takes our shattered, broken pieces and turns them into a beautiful new tapestry of His design–somehow better for the breaking.
He is making all of our stories beautiful. Always.
So I wear it on my arm for all to see. To celebrate what He has already done, and what He is doing still. Beauty.
Also, if Jesus can have a tattoo, why can’t I?! 😉