His voice broke as he hugged his son.
Emotion from my steady-Eddy.
“I’m proud of you,” he says. Then he is wrapped in the long arms of the teenager who now towers above his dad. A manly bear-hug.
Our son’s face softens, his smile one of pure delight.
It seems funny to me–how this moment, this thing that once raised our eyebrow–today provides a sacred place.
He is only seventeen and needed our signature.
When he first asked for a tattoo for his birthday, I gave the party-line answer. “A decision this permanent should be made when you can sign for yourself. One more year.”
Then I tipped the scale the other way with my question, “What do you want and why?”
“A tattoo of the wristband they gave the men at church. It’ll be a reminder that I choose God and am determined to be a man of integrity.”
“That’s really cool, Sam.’ My resistance faded. “Maybe we should talk to dad.”
And so today we stood together in a giant hug, the three of us wrapped in the hallowed spaces of a tattoo shop.
And hubby’s voice shook just a little as he looked into this baby boy’s eyes and declared his pride in the man before him.
Another boy becoming.
Another young man finding his own way with faith and temptation and questions and answers all in the context of seeking relationship with the Creator.
Across the room sat David, getting the same tattoo, standing (figuratively) shoulder-to-shoulder with Sam. A brother thing from this newest sibling, this gift of marriage.
Our daughter divided her time between these two of her men, watching the artists at work. Solidarity flowed between all five of us.
The old Christian box Jerry and I lived in didn’t have room for these sacred moments.
But this new freedom of seeking God, not a cultural mindset, allows for such expression.
Today a simple band of black and red reminds these men who they are and Whose they are.
Someday Another will declare Who He is, “And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”*
Riding with Sam as we drove home I said, “I’m so happy.”
His grin was wide. “Why?”
“I think because I feel your joy, and it overwhelms me.”
In reflection I know it was all of that and more. A Dad loving his son. A son knowing he is accepted. A mom watching the youngest take another step into the fullness of who he is.
A man forming before my eyes.
The delight in freedom.
Freedom to be who we are and to express it.
Until Next Time,
Tagged: dad, delight, father's pride, freedom, God, hope, joy, King of Kings, manhood, motherhood, son, tattoos
“But this new freedom of seeking God, not a cultural mindset, allows for such expression.”
This is the first time I have ever seen tattoos talked about without talking about tattoos. What a delightful post, Paula.
Thanks, my friend! FREEEDDOOOMMM!!!
I have a tatto too, on my left shoulder. It came with much thought and, although it may not be spiritual in the way you would recognise it means a lot to me. It is a small yin yang sign to remind me there has to be both darkness and light.
Sometimes I think we don’t truly see the light without the darkness.
To learn not to judge. I have missed the mark many times judging others and not really knowing what is going on. To much energy wasted. Let then grow and we will also. This post warmed my heart.
Much love Tom
I think the point is the willingness to step farther and farther out of our “safe” and “ordered” boxes so we can see the true hearts, don’t you? One thing our pastor often says that sticks with me is a phrase, “that’s beyond my paygrade.” He uses it in this context of not judging, but also in the context of conviction and salvation. There are so many things I believe are the Holy Spirit’s job that we try to force, and almost always that ends badly, don’t you think?
Your heart is so kind, Tom. Your comments always bless.
I have secretly judged others and openly critized my daughter Kelly for the giant tinker bell she had on her thigh to ankel. I have also secretly judge others on other things. I was wrong and it showed a lack of maturity as a father and a Christian. I pray I never do that again. Each should let them learn on their own and make their own decisions and mistakes Excpessialy when they are adults. I now believe we can learn from of children and others of we keep a open mind and use discretion along with a lot of love.
Just a added thought on this Paula
Tom, been running and finally have a moment to sit down and give your thoughts a worthy reply. Didn’t want to rush through this on my phone. I was very touched by your added thoughts. What a wonderful journey you’ve had into more deeply understanding who God really is. I am impressed by your kindness every time we connect here on the Internet and His light in you warms those who gather near your words.
I hope you aren’t carrying any unnecessary pain around “openly criticizing” your daughter’s tattoo. There is absolutely no way she didn’t know you deeply love you. It’s apparent always and I am often comforted as a parent by the Scripture that says that love covers a multitude of evil (I Peter 4:8). I’ve found that children have a huge capacity to forgive and forget when mistakes are covered with the deep love parents have for them.
I am challenged by your final comments, that if we keep an open mind, use discretion, and offer love instead of judging we can learn from our children and others. I love that. I’m growing by listening from outside my cultural boxes and asking God to help me listen with HIS heart. Wisdom often comes in unexpected packages and from unexpected places.
As usual, you are a blessing, my friend! Sending prayer for your tender heart as I hit send on this comment.
So much joy and freedom in living outside the box.
You got it!