It is black with flames in a semi-circle above and below. There is a Boston Terrier in the middle with “Got Bostons?” underneath. It is the same as the sticker on the back window of my truck. It should be, I designed them both. The sticker on my truck is white vinyl. The tattoo on my upper arm is black ink.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving last year I went into Inkredible Tattoo in El Centro and I let René poke my arm repeatedly with a needle. It didn’t hurt as bad as I thought it would, but I wouldn’t call it exactly pleasant. He did an incredible (Inkredible?) job and if I do get another tattoo, he will be the one to do it. What hurt as bad as the needle was the verbal needling I was getting from my wife, Lanette, and my fake daughter, Esli. Esli even Facebooked photos of me getting the tattoo!
Don’t ask me why I got a tattoo, I’m not really sure. I have thought about it for a while now. I had to make sure I was doing it for the right reasons. I had to make sure it wasn’t some weird midlife crisis or something. It wasn’t; I just wanted a tattoo, and for the first time in my life I am in a place where I didn’t have to worry about “shoulds and oughts.”
I have lived most of my life by the “shoulds and oughts.” I grew up in a very conservative religious environment and they had some pretty strict rules about drinking, dancing, smoking, tattoos and many other items. I let them shape my attitudes and actions for most of my 50 years. I haven’t rejected all that I grew up with, but I have made sure that what I believe is God’s Word, not man “cherry-picking” Old Testament Scriptures.
The tattoo is a great example. As soon as the picture was posted on my Facebook page a couple of people publicly and privately voiced their displeasure and disappointment. I knew that was coming. They quoted Leviticus 19:28 where it says not to put tattoo marks on myself. The thing is, the same passage also says for me not to eat meat with blood still in it, not to wear clothing made from two different fabrics, and not to cut the hair off the side of my head or clip the edges of my beard. If you’re going to quote one verse, you have to quote it all.
Jesus came to establish a new relationship with us so that we would not be slaves to the Law anymore. Jesus said the most important law was this: “The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Matthew 12:29 TNIV.)
So I have changed my views on some things. I still don’t dance, but that’s because I look goofy doing it. I still don’t smoke or drink alcohol, but those are personal choices that I have made in my relationship with God. I know Christians who do all three, and that is between them and God. I find myself going back to the New Testament to find my relationship with Christ, and it is freeing and refreshing. I haven’t “watered down” my Christianity or message, but I have made sure it’s God’s way not mine or somebody else’s.
If you are one of the many people who have found “religion” stifling and rejected Jesus because of it, I encourage you to reject religion and find a relationship with Jesus instead. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can help you find out how. It is really an incredible life!
Proud to be “inked”… Jerry