I love tattoos, I really do. I think they are an amazing expression of self & can serve as the sweetest reminders. I know some people have their opinions about tattoos, but each person’s body is their own, so they should be able to choose what they want to do with it.
I (now) have three tattoos and each represents a significant time in my life thus far. They each have deep, personal meanings that sometimes I just can’t put into words. I’ll try my best here, but sometimes words fail to convey the true meaning.
I got my first tattoo when I was 18, turning 19. I had just gotten back from three months in Ghana & went straight to college without skipping a beat. The first university I attended wasn’t the one for me, neither was the environment. The pieces just weren’t fitting and I knew rather quickly that I would not graduate from that school (although it is a wonderful university!) I was dealing with a lot of reverse culture shock after having my world flipped upside down while in Ghana. I was going through a lot. I returned to Chicago & things went downhill quickly. I don’t talk about this time in my life too often, because it was rocky and not always positive, but one day I will post the entire story and how I climbed out to become the person I am today. After a series of events, I knew I needed to get back on track. I applied for & was accepted to a 3 month gap semester program through East Africa and left two weeks later. Before I left I found myself constantly pondering the idea of “purpose”. What was a life of purpose? How can I pursue a purposeful life? What is my purpose? Where will my purpose take me?
In January 2012 I decided to get “live life on purpose” tattooed on my left wrist to be a constant reminder of the unfolding journey I’m on. A journey of living life on purpose & with purpose & for purpose. I believe everyone has a beautiful & special purpose to their life. We each were made for greatness in a unique & magnificent way. Maybe your purpose is to be a nurse, or a stay at home mommy, or a missionary, or an entrepreneur. Maybe your purpose changes throughout your life, or stays the same through the years. I’ve found that my purpose changes as the seasons of my life ebb and flow. Sometimes my purpose is to pour love into the girls I nanny, other times its being a mommy to children in Ghana without a stable mother figure, a college student pursuing a degree, sometimes a friend to walk through difficult seasons with, a dreamer or project developer, it’s always changing. In the future I know my purpose will be a mother & wife, among many other things. But, No matter what season or time in my life, I know my main purpose in life is to love. That may look different at certain points in my life, but the phrase that I hold steadfast to, no matter what situation, love never fails.
After returning from 3 months in East Africa, in May 2012, I felt more connected to Africa than ever before. After spending over 6 months on the continent, I could feel it in my bones that it was home. I was unsure of what that meant at the time, but I knew I had a fierce love for the people I’d met, stories I’d heard, and projects I was involved in. It’s something I couldn’t (and still can’t explain). I don’t know if I ever will be able to explain in words how much Africa means to me. Words fail every single time. In searching for the right words, I kept coming across this deep feeling of hope that was so evident in the people and communities I worked with.
I see hope in every child’s eyes, every mother’s smile, and every grandfathers laugh. They fill me with so much hope that my cup overflows daily. There is always hope of a brighter future. There is always hope that God will provide for their needs. Their is always hope, even on the darkest of days. I designed the tattoo & knew it was the perfect way to be constantly reminded of why I love Africa so much. [It's a great conversation starter too!]
And just a few days ago I added tattoo #3 to the bunch…..
My journey with God & faith isn’t something I’ve shared about too openly on my blog. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to share about this journey, but I knew the time wasn’t right. I was in the midst of a lot of questioning…soul searching if you will…and I knew it was a thing I was to keep between me & God, not something to be shared publicly. I finally am solid in my beliefs & relationship with God that I feel Him push me to talk more freely about that journey and where I’m at right now.
The story of how I came back to God after walking away is nothing short of a miracle. I stand in awe everyday that it happened & exactly how it happened. Eventually I will be able to post the entire testimony, but it’s wrapped up in another complicated story that isn’t something I can go public about yet. [Sorry I keep dangling this "miraculous story" over your heads. I want so so badly to explain it all, but legally I can't. I can tell you that it involves a baby girl in Ghana who is turning 1 year old this month.]
I stand in awe that He planned it all along. He was radically changing my life even before I started really praising Him. He was there before I started whispering “God” after every “Thank You” I said. It was planned all along. The where, what, when, and how I was brought back to Him could have never, ever been planned by me or any human. I thank Him everyday for orchestrating that huge miracle & for radically changing the course of my life.
After I started to really pursue & lean into my newfound relationship with God, I kept coming across the idea of “light”–where it’s brought up in the bible, what it means to me, worship songs about light, and what He’s trying to teach me through the word. The past year of my life has been filled with nothing but His light, grace & love. It’s been the best (and the toughest) year yet, all because of Him.
[In the same way, let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.]
God has filled me with an amount of Light that can’t be contained. It wouldn’t fit in a jar & couldn’t be measured by the gallon…its endless. As I continue to grow & deepen my relationship with Him, His Light shines more through me.
I was not given this Light for my own personal use.
I was not given this Light to be locked in a closet.
I was not given this Light to be hidden away from the world.
He gave me this Light to be shown from the tallest mountains, the deepest seas, & the widest valleys.
I want people to see less of me, and more of Him. Less of my love, and more of His love through me. I don’t want people to glorify me for what I’m doing in Ghana & elsewhere, I want people to see that I am merely following His call & He is providing for every step of the way. He’s called me to be His hands & feet in Ghana, by saying YES to that call, He is instilling all the strength, love, passion, and determination needed to pursue that life & face all the challenges ahead. It’s not about me. It’s about Him.
Let Your Light Shine. Let it shine brighter than the sun. Let it break through to all corners of darkness. Let it shatter all walls & reach every nook of the Earth.
Let it shine baby.