(I highly suggest you read this post while listening to THIS SONG. Just a suggestion. Wink)
I know there will be some of you who hate tattoos. That’s cool.
Then there are some of you who think getting matching tattoos is kind of lame and juvenile. That’s cool too.
I simply don’t care.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a jerk. I’m just exhausted. Exhausted by the weight of everyone’s opinion. We were not made to carry everyone’s opinions around on our shoulders. It’s an impossible task.
I’ve spent most of my life concealing or apologizing for the parts of me that didn’t suit other people’s fancy. The parts of me that didn’t fall in line. The parts of me that didn’t hold to popular opinion. The parts of me that felt weird or unusual or slightly left of center. I’ve justified who I am to people that don’t deserve an explanation. I’ve hid parts of myself from people whose opinion should hold very little value. Then there is the third group of people, the unknown “they,” that I constantly worry over. These are the people that I don’t know and who don’t know me. They aren’t thinking about me, so why do I obsess over their opinion of myself?
I’ve hid and I’ve explained and I’ve side stepped for so long that you’d think I’d be a pretty good tap dancer by now (I’m not).
This latest tattoo holds a great deal of meaning for me. It’s a snap shot into a much larger story that is playing out in the hearts and minds of four people: my husband and I, and our friends Derek and Jordan.
You don’t have to love tattoos to care about our story. I hope you’ll continue reading. But if not, still I march. Onward.
I get very, very tired of the same old thing. I hate the expected. I hate cliques. I steer clear of the things people love by the masses. Sometimes this comes across as being a skeptic, but that is usually just the people who feel threatened by that which they don’t understand. Being part of a crowd has a certain expectedness, a certain group knowledge that makes many people feel safe.
It just makes me feel claustrophobic.
A few years ago, we became friends with Derek and Jordan Palizay. In them we found kindred spirits. We found the same drive, the same dreams, the same frustrations with complacency and normality.
We all wanted more. We all longed for adventure and newness. We felt the urge to press onward with every fiber of our being.
Last fall, a month before Beatrice was born, the Palizays took a step towards pursing their dreams and packed their bags and moved their family to North Carolina.
They came up recently to spend Thanksgiving with us and it was so fun and refreshing to see them. We laughed and drank gallons of coffee while the six kids we have between us ran wild and generally wreaked havoc. We talked about our passions and how we wanted to step out and be brave. We talked about wanting more than just the normal 9-5. We talked about how the “American Dream” doesn’t seem so dreamy. We talked about fear, and how everyone seems so afraid to go after their hearts desires. We talked about popular opinion, and how it generally leads us in a direction far from our God given passion and purpose. We talked about legacy. We talked about how to move onward.
One night, Derek and Mike came into the kitchen and said that we should do something “crazy” to commemorate this point in time in our life. This moment of being together, of being on the cusp of change. To remember this jumping off point. To remember this group, this drive, this calm before the storm.
The guys starting throwing out ideas – ridiculous ideas. Jordan and I eventually tuned them out and went back to our own conversation.
The next morning, the guys announced that they had come up with the perfect idea: tattoos.
We went round and round on ideas. Do we all get the same thing? What is the specific meaning? What do we all like, and where?
The guys ultimately went with something that suited where they are at in their journey, and Jordan and I designed something that represented our hearts.
We had to stagger our appointment times because, uh, kids. So a few hours later, after the guys returned home with their fresh ink, Jordan and I headed to get our own. We were nervous and excited and as we pulled up we both looked at each other with a “I can’t believe we are doing this” kind of look.
When you jump, I jump, Jack.
Jordan and I designed a tattoo of and X, with a sailboat on one side, and ocean waves and the sun on the other.
Why the ocean? Why the sailboat? Why the X?
Jordan and I both resonate with and connect to God through ocean imagery. The story of Peter. The calling to step out onto the waves. The Hillsong United song, “Oceans.”
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
And lately, I’ve felt inspired by my favorite Oliver Wendell Holmes quote. I’ll never forget the first time I read it. Time seemed to stand still and I let out an audible gasp. It gave me goosebumps. They were the words of my heart, written over a hundred years ago.
Greatness is not in where we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it – but sail we must and not drift, nor lie at anchor.
Jordan and I hear God’s calling reflected back to us through these words as though they were water, reflecting our own image. We feel called out to do something different. To pursue the great unknown. To not settle for standing in one place, but to sail! To not let the waves and wind of life deter us, but sail – onward.
The X is a crucial part of our tattoo and our story. We are not single beings going through life on our own. We are wives. We are partners to our husbands in all their dreams and business ventures. We have a place, in their hearts and in their lives. We play a vital role in it all.
As women, the question of “place” is both hotly contested and earnestly pleaded. Women want to feel that they have a place – in this world, in the lives of those they love, and in the bigger picture that we call “purpose.”
It doesn’t matter if you are single, married, or divorced; women, you have a place! It is not a mistake that you are on this earth. You play a vital role in the story of your life, and in the lives of those around you. I have so much more to say on this topic, but that is a separate post for another day.
In regards to our tattoo, the X symbolizes that we are our husbands X factor. We have a place.We are needed. No, I don’t mean that our husbands can’t achieve success without us. What I mean, is that we have the privilege of standing on the stage with them, of partnering with them in the pursuit of dreams and passions. We are wildly different than our partners. Those differences are not a barrier, they are the X factor. They are the missing link.
Jordan and I chose the X because we want to stand together with our husbands, walking hand in hand through this life. We aren’t pursing one person’s dreams at the expense of the other’s. We are doing this together. I stand beside my husband as his number one fan, his biggest supporter, and loudest cheerleader. Individually, we can accomplish a few good things. Together, there is no stopping us.
God is calling us out upon the waves, together.
The guys chose a tattoo of a buffalo with a mountain scape inside by the artist, Sam Larson. Derek wrote the word, “onward” and they included that in the design. Buffalos are the only animal on the prairie that face the storm head on. They don’t turn – they run right into the eye of the storm.
Life’s a storm, people, whether we face it or not. Every day we have the choice to head into it, or run from it. We choose to move onward. Through the storms. Through the waves.
Onward we go.
*cue Riders On The Storm*