Friday, April 25, 2014

What Does Your Tatt Mean?

So, I got a tattoo. Like, a real one. You know, the permanent kind that people sometimes get. The kind that make moms angry. The kind that friggin hurt. However, this wasn't technically my first one. Back in college I impulsively went under the pen and received a tribal-sun thing on my ankle that's about as significant as an overgrown mole that permanently reminds me that I shouldn't be trusted with my own thoughts. (watch this vid) The truth is, I currently have about 5 different meanings for the arrows on my guns that range from sarcastic to truthful and deeply spiritual, and I'll rattle off a few of them depending on the situation. If we're standing in line for the bathroom, for example, you're probably going to get the least serious answer. If we're on a plane, well, you might as well put your tray back in its upright position and get ready for a heart-to-heart over a complimentary V8. It all really depends.

So, for those of you who may be wondering, here are the five current meanings I have given to my new tattoo:

(beginning with the least serious)

5) Legolas and Katniss Everdeen. These two are in a tie for my all-time favorite archer. Legolas is just...a badass. He's a frickin' elf from Rivendale who lives in trees, can live forever, is magical, and can walk atop snow leaving no footprint. I mean, do you remember the scene from The Two Towers when he skateboards on an orc's shield down the steps at Helms Deep just spittin' arrows & and droppin' Uruk Hai like whoa? Of course you do. Also, remember that insane moment when Legolas mounts his galloping horse with a single hand. How could you forget? But, Katniss is in a tie with Legolas for the simple reason that her character in Hunger Games is played by Jennifer Lawrence, who aside from her radiance is also from Louisville, KY. That instantly makes her Legolas' female equivalent. Literally neck-and-neck. Overall, archery and bow-hunting are sick, and these two movie legends do it well. So, that's one reason I have arrows soaring up my arm.

4) Leonidas' death at the end of 300. So, if you've not seen 300, there's a spoiler alert that I'm not going to warn you about because your failure to see this movie is about as epic as, well, Leonidas' death. Yep, he DIES in the end. But, the manner of his death is like, pretty much the ultimate way to go if you are as much of a boss as Leonidas: a dark, cumulonimbus cloud of racing arrows. The only hope of killing someone as untouchable as Leonidas is to shoot an innumerable amount of arrows at him from all directions and all at once. It's an awesome, epic, and appropriate death. Down goes Leonidas, and down goes five arrows on my right bicep as a lifetime reminder to likewise be a badass alpha-male to the very end.

3) I'm a 16th-part Indian...which basically means nothing. But, really. Of what tribe? I don't know. The kind that hunted with arrows. I said I was a 16th, not a friggin' chief. I don't even get a tuition break. It just means my biological mom is an 8th, my grandmother is half, and my great-grandparents ate buffalo and danced with wolves. That's it. But, there are indeed a few red-blood cells in my veins that wear headdresses, enjoy casinos, and look with suspicion at the "white devil" blood-cells, and that clearly means I need arrows tattooed on my arm.

2) Arrows must be pulled backwards before they go forwards. This is a bit more of a cliche, inspirational take, but it certainly applies. Like most, I've experienced some deep frustration with relationships, jobs, school, passions, and realizing my overall identity as life consistently proves itself to be quite unpredictable. Yet, success is often possible only through much failure. As long as I stay humble, teachable, and remain grateful for the good that is undeniably present even in the darkest of seasons, before you know it persistence and patience will start to pay off as opportunity blossoms. I've learned to not take myself all that seriously, ditch my ego, lose a sense of entitlement, to laugh when I'm an idiot, and to accept my limitations as an occasion to accumulate mentors. Cliche, I know. But, it's true. You will suffer more in this life if you expect to suffer less. Proper expectations are key, and failure only makes our success all that more significant. Am I right? Heard that, but moving on...

1) Job 6:4. So, this is the most meaningful significance of my tattoo. Job 6:4 reads, "For the arrows of the Almighty are in me; my spirit drinks their poison; the terrors of God are arrayed against me." Though many are vaguely familiar with Job as an Old Testament figure who lost everything and then argued with God about it, Job's overall story is one that imparts much wisdom, gratitude, and stability during difficult seasons that make absolutely no sense. Though my probs are characteristically 1st-World, and there are certainly countless people who have experienced much greater loss and confusion than I, the past few years of my life have presented the hardest trials I have ever encountered. On a very, very small but similar level as Job, I was basically forced to start from scratch on some key identity markers such as marriage, career, and school. On top of that, I've recently continued to hurt people, lose relationships, ruin friendships, earn a bad name, and encounter things that seem to drive the arrows even deeper. Stripped and confused, I sojourned along wondering what in the hell the Lord was--and is--up to. There were (and still are) moments where I felt like the Lord had shot a cumulonimbus cloud of arrows in my direction. Wounded from my sin and the sins of others, His arrows lodged deep, and as sleepless nights were accompanied with tears of anger, I began to understand a little how Job could exclaim, "The terrors of God are arrayed against me." Yet, as we know from the rest of the book, Job is a steadfast worshiper of the Lord. He doesn't waver. When all his possessions, even his health, were taken, his arm was still faithfully raised in worship as he cried out, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21), and, "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him..." (13:15) This doesn't mean Job didn't have an issue with God. He most certainly did! He cursed his own birth and demanded an answer to the question, "Why, God?!?!" Yet, at the end of the day, New Testament writers looked back on the story of Job and praised his faithfulness during trial saying, "You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful" (James 4:11). Although Job's pain was truly unfathomable as is demonstrated in his lamentations that adorn this tome, the Lord skillfully showed Job incredible kindness and patience as He, of all things, took Job to the zoo and explained that the same wisdom displayed in the design of some of the Earth's most amazing and majestic animals is the same brilliance that guides and sustains his life. Job covered his mouth, humbled himself under the mighty hand of God, and was exalted in due time...just as Scripture encourages believers to do today (1 Pet 5:6). Come full-circle, "
And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before" (Job 42:10). My arrows remind me that the Lord doesn't need to consult me before writing my story, because if He did my life would certainly be without much of the drama that has so skillfully fashioned my character and driven me to know Him better. He gets me, and He knows the trials future me needs to go through today so future me can have godly character that is "complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:4). God is always up to something genius, even when everything inside and outside me scream otherwise.

Truth dat.

Though the arrows of the Almighty had indeed pierced Job, his hand was still raised in worship and the Lord, in His perfect timing, proved faithful. The arrows on my bicep are positioned to aim directly at my heart, but they only do so when my arm is raised in worship. My life is still a big mess, but in the meantime I'll hit up the zoo and be reminded that in Christ, the Lord is good and is using my pain to build in me wisdom and true, lasting godly character. So, Lord, though I know I'll probably regret saying this later, take aim and fire away.

That's what my tatt means...and I love Jennifer Lawrence. 



Adam Cates said...

Great post, Eron. Thanks for sharing this.

Jay Scott said...

Good Stuff.

Tyler said...

Great post E-Ron.

Benjamin Deen-Swaray said...

It's so refreshing to seeing you sincerely share your highs and lows. Your testimony is a blog now but will be a book that will encourage many someday. Hugs bro.