I was having dinner with a friend the other day and was reminded of a piece of her story I had forgotten. One night, years ago, she passed out for hours in the house of a fellow drug user who took the opportunity to tattoo her chest. The images he chose for her were of needles and skulls, a permanent reminder of her choices and circumstances at the time. After getting clean and turning her life around, she tried to get these images removed on her own, a painful and very expensive process. But no matter how hard she tried, she just couldn’t get rid of the tattoos.
Have you ever been there? Have you been marked by a past, a story, a scar, or a night that you would do anything to undo, delete, or replace? I know I have! I may not have any visible tattoos, but they are there, hidden deep inside.
Recently, my friend celebrated 20 months clean and sober! Around that time, a friend/tattoo artist approached her and said, “I know you’ve been trying to remove your tattoos…let me help you make them into something that actually has meaning for you.” She agreed, and now my sweet friend’s chest is covered with lilies, a beautiful flower and the name of her lovely daughter. By the grace of God and with help from a friend, the reminder of that painful night has become an image with purpose and meaning.
What I love about this story is that no matter how much the past still hurts, my friend is not hiding from it, lying about it, or running away from it. Instead, she was able to transform the ugly reminder into something of beauty and the images of darkness into a promise of hope for the future.
That is the beauty of God’s amazing grace. We are given the opportunity to transform who we were and become renewed, rejuvenated, and refined. Through Jesus we are reminded that out of our broken and sinful past, marked by needles and death, that we are given LIFE – blooming flowers full of life.
“So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NLT)
Elizabeth (Ebeth) Johnson currently works at Flatirons and is pursuing her MSW at CSU. She has been married to her husband, Chris, for 5 years. Ebeth delights in the adventure of doing life in community, growing together and helping others experience the awesome life of Jesus.