Think Ink


To the left is a tatoo she got about 18 months ago. I think it is some of the prettiest inkwork I’ve seen. The colors are brilliant.

I’ve known Jenny since she was a wee little person in Indiana. Now she’s a student at Calvin in Michigan. I’d probably never see her if it wasn’t for social media technology that lets us connect virtually.

Anyhow, when I logged onto Facebook this morning and started to cruise through the Newsfeed, I saw the above photo which shows Jenny’s latest. I’d heard from a mutual friend that she was planning a sleeve (is that what this is called? i think i got that right), but hadn’t heard what it would be.

According to Jenny, the whale wins.

When I was growing up the only people I knew with tattoos were men, they were currently or formerly engaged in military service, and they drank beer and smoked cigarettes. Their tattoos were not generally imaginative — rarely something one would call artistic expression.

I don’t say that to imply that “when I was growing up” should be the standard for what is normal or right or good. I’m just owning the reality of my perspective. When my friends started getting tatoos — generally small and hidden — I had an opportunity to unpack my own assumptions and associations relative to tatoos and those who don them.

When you grow up thinking certain things are indicators of other things, untwisting those associations can be complicated. Challenging.

If I started to name all the people who have played a roll in my untwisting that list would quickly grow long. I’m so grateful to those who saw my clenched teeth or sensed my closed heart and didn’t walk away. Their grace gave me space to see beyond the ink on their arms. And, as God’s peace and love transforms my heart and mind to better reflect His, I find myself celebrating the ink.

5 thoughts on “Think Ink

    • ruthhubbard says:

      Danny — I’m not sure what of this is offensive. I don’t say that because I can’t see how what I think or write could be offensive — just not sure what part of this is causing your response. I’m therefore not sure how your offendedness is connected to your citizenship. Would love to hear more of what you’re thinking.

      • danny zoetewey says:

        When I turned 12, Ruth, my father took me out on the back 40 for the sunset, and he said, “Son, look at this country. This is America, and it’s changing. People like you and me, we got to be careful.” I guess I can see what he means now.
        That night, before we went back down to the house, he left me with two pieces of advice, and I reckon they’ve stuck with me all these years. The first thing–and I get choked up about it even now–was that you have to do right by your family. My grandad ran out on his family, left my grandmother to raise six kids all on her own. My father never forgave him for that, and I don’t think I have either. You see, my own mother died giving birth to me, and grandma, she raised me too. That woman has meant the world to us both.
        The second thing was respecting what the Lord has given you, and when I see these kids running around with their tight jeans and tattoos, smoking and drinking underage, I just don’t think they’re being very appreciative when it comes the body the Lord has blessed them with. These kids–what they don’t tear up, they shit all over–and it’s a crying shame.

      • ruthhubbard says:

        It sounds like your grandma is one of those heros in our world who doesn’t get much recognition for all that she does. That’s a blessing.

        About “these kids” — I have a hard time whenever anyone lumps whole portions of humanity into a box and declares them good or bad or irresponsible or wonderful, so I’m trying to know how to respond in a way that would be helpful. I’m biased, I guess, because I know a lot of incredible people who have great respect for God and all He has created who also have tattoos. Their tattooing is not an act of rebellion against their creator. Of course it can be and is an outward expression of inward angst or anger for some. But not for all.

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