Thoughts on soul tattoos…
Could we all use some new ink? I don’t watch much CNN news but the other day I happened to catch part of a Freedom Project clip in which they were interviewing a poverty-stricken U.S.A. woman who said she had been lured, gradually, by a male “handler” into a prostitution ring which had, for her, then led to intravenous drug use and addiction as well as alcohol addiction.
Then, a miracle happened to her (which I ALSO appreciated CNN giving coverage to!). The woman met Jesus Christ as her Lord and God and was saved completely and for eternity by Him! (It’s all there, clearly, right in the Bible. For reading it, I recommend starting with the gospel of John, and the epistle to the Romans, especially chapters 8 and 12, and then, also, the first and second epistles to the Corinthians.)
After that, as she grew spiritually in God, she realized GOD was the only one who owned her, the only one she belonged to! She abandoned her whole former life, overcame with God’s help her addictions, and lived a new clean life, forgiven and free and sharing her good news with others. She walked in God’s strength, for her, and shared God’s love with others in need, out of the overflow of His joy and love that she felt welling up and daily being renewed, within her own spirit. She was standing TALL, in her new God-given identity as a beloved and accepted daughter of the King of kings.
However, her former trafficker, in reality her owner, had demanded that she get four different tattoos on four different places on her body, each of which marked her as his chattel. These tattoos were so placed that it was impossible for her to look at herself in a mirror, from any angle, without seeing one of them.
For her, the tattoos were powerful visual symbols of her former suffering, shame, poor decisions she had taken, and a sinful lifestyle. They were also haunting reminders to her of a pattern of strong coercion and violence, abuses, and other shaming she had fallen prey to and become trapped in.
Psychologically, the old tattoos made spiritual and emotional progress, at an optimal rate, in her new life and identity even more challenging than it already was!
With her new, respectable but NOT well-paying collection of part-time jobs she was working, after a long time she scraped together enough money to have one of the four tattoos – the one on her upper right arm – “covered”, (re-tattooed, in colors, in much larger format, effectively causing the old tattoo to completely disappear.) Her new tattoo had 1 Corinthians 6:20 – New in Christ-Owned by God, and a lovely flower design.
Anyways, there’s more to the story, with believing friends noticing her new arm tattoo and asking, and being told about the other three shame marks she still carried, and helping her with funding to get them covered also. You can look up the whole story on CNN-Freedom Project.
But this pierced my heart. It made me think about how often I let old “shame markers” on my spirit, hold me BACK, partially, from becoming and BEING each DAY, ALL that God wants me to be!
Oh, sure, maybe MY sins and shames and addictions were, and are, not as “horrible”, as “serious”, as blatant, as “out there” as the ones this woman has now been saved by God from. Yet God’s Word clearly teaches that my sins (maybe pride? how about lack of thankfulness? lack of forgiveness? former Facebook addiction? worry? maybe selfishness? surely lack of faith and trust? lack of love? ) are just as much an affront to a Holy God.
And to make matters worse, maybe these are attitudes I got trapped in, and clung to, AFTER I was made a new creature in Christ, with God already my only owner, unlike the woman in the CNN story. I should have known better, I mean, I’ve been a Christian for YEARS! But…the human heart…we all know.
Here’s the important part. I need to stop feeling the shame of those old “soul tattoos” because, guess what? They are not real; they’re not even THERE anymore! Why not? God’s already forgiven me! I asked Him to, and He did! No condemnation for me! (That’s in the Bible too, in those exact words!)
YES! I am forgiven and FREE, and my only OWNER is my beloved, powerful, GOOD GOD, who wants and promises only the best for me.
You know what? Within the family of God there is now no condemnation for you. So let’s encourage and build up each other in these strong biblical truths, and help each other to stand firm upon them, sometimes in the midst of very challenging lives and circumstances, as we walk forward in community together.