Not Cool Enough For That Tattoo
I believe I’ve mentioned it here before, but I do not have too many friends and I’m completely happy with that. I’d even be fine if I had fewer than I currently have. I’m one who does not need nor want a plethora of friends. Western culture cultivates shallow people and shallow relationships. I dislike both. My true friends have consistency. They understand there is more to life than what meets the eye and this often has come from their own burdened lives.
I’ve spent a lot of time in tattoo shops. Hanging out with friends, getting tattoo’s myself, or watching people acquire new regrets. I was visiting one of my buddies one day at a shop he worked at when he showed me a drawing of sweet Virgin Mary that he’d drawn up for a customer. And the customer was there. As I recall, she stood there, perhaps a little nervous about this new venture, this new ink, and looked at me as I told her something to the extent of “You’re not cool enough for that tattoo”. I’d never met this lady before. Didn’t know her past, present or aspiration for future. Just another customer. Just another tattoo. No connection. I left the shop for my own venture.
I’ve spent a great deal of time in church. At times I would say “unfortunately”, other times I would say “thankfully” I was in church. Church has become typical for me most of the time. I would go as far as to say “devoid of the Holy Spirit”. There I often sit, trying to get some redeeming lesson from what the man up front is saying, more often than not wandering off into my own little Bible study of Colossians 1 and the supremacy of Christ over all. Church is viewed as learning from the pastor. Over the years though the greatest lessons I’ve been taught haven’t come from the pulpit but rather from the pew and often from the back row. The ones who don’t fit into church but love Jesus. The ones who know what “hard” means. The ones who have lived hard lives and don’t try to hide it. The ones who are beat up, drug around, kicked, laughed at. The chain smokers, the drunks, the tweakers, the bikers, the strippers, the forgotten ones. Unknowingly they have ministered to me. They have taught me what the pulpit could not.
When I walked out of that tattoo shop that day, I never thought I’d see that lady again. I have a knack for thinking incorrectly I would suppose. During that time, I was leading a small Bible study that was for those whom the churches have forgotten. Those years were difficult, but I will never forget them. None the less, in walks little miss Virgin Mary tattoo lady. Oh crap. I might also mention that my words often come back to get me and now I believed it was about to happen again. Pray to the Virgin Mary, pray to Jesus, pray whatever, I just knew she was there to give back to me what I dished out to her. I didn’t actually mean she wasn’t cool enough for the tattoo.
In the following months and now years, I would come to know Wendy. A young woman who has had her share of hell on earth. I would come to know her and the grace she gives to others. By the way, grace is giving something to someone who does not deserve it. Grace is what God has extended to us through Jesus Christ. The concept of grace has recently been taught to me through Wendy more than any pastor could have for the simple fact that she has not talked about it, she has lived it. I have watched from the corner, as I often do, as Wendy has given to others when she herself had nothing to give. She has extended love to the unlovely and compassion to those who hurt. Wendy is as tough as nails, but only because she has been forced to lay on a bed of such. To the heart though, she walks as a follower of Jesus. I’ve said that a follower of Jesus isn’t someone who just says a prayer and asks Jesus into their little heart, but rather someone who takes up their cross and follows him. That’s Wendy. Mere words do not describe how she has ministered to me and for that I am eternally grateful. I am honored to call Wendy “friend”.
Wendy, someday the wrongs will be made right by a good and just King. Until then we will continue to trod along through life, living to be a blessing to others and when the accolades come, we simply point to the cross. Thank you for being the friend that you are.