A tattoo is an interesting thing. A permanent thing. A highly debated thing, particularly amongst religious circles.
I wasn’t sure I would ever get one. You go so long thinking of the different concepts, and when you haven’t had the impulse, or the “get up and go” to get it, it fades away, as if the idea of the tattoo was a bad tattoo you hadn’t cared for properly.
It seemed as if the time had come. About a month and a half ago, I was ready to go in, I knew what I was getting, where, and why.
But the night before during my prayer time, I just DID NOT feel at peace with it. So the next day, I told Nate he would have to go get a new one to take my place. He respected it and trying not to be overly joyful at my sense of unrest, took off to check one of the many tattoos off his ever expanding list.
I went ahead and made another appointment a few weeks later and would have to wait for a month. Plenty of time to pray, and discern, and feel at peace (or not).
I discussed it a lot with people. I pinned a lot of pins. I never found exactly what I wanted, which I kind of liked, but also kind of frustrated me, because there would be an element of stepping out in faith in regards to the final product.
And on Tuesday July 14th, I got my first, and maybe my only tattoo.
It’s a Palm Branch.
I don’t think I ever missed a Palm Sunday. I can almost see them all when I start flipping through my memories. The pomp and circumstance, the actual green palm branches with their pulpy leaves that I would strip and braid, and strip again during my father’s sermon, only to be upset that I couldn’t wave my palm branch during the closing hymn because I had obliterated it in my boredom. I got wise to this and eventually would grab two to three palm branches each Palm Sunday.
The permanence and also the evolution of the understanding of what that day meant stayed with me always. Of what that Palm Branch began to mean to me. Of what it had meant to others before me, what it must have meant on that day that crazy Jesus who was turning the world upside down rode a donkey into Jerusalem. Of what it meant for me as a young child, an adolescent, a married young woman. a young mother, a pastor’s wife, a pastor.
And yet still it remains, though the places and people changed, the same green grainy life cut off yet still exuding life palm branch wherever I might find myself the Sunday before Easter.
Now, as I bow my head in prayer, or lift my hands in praise, it seems fitting to me to be reminded to have the intentionality and intensity of Palm Sunday as I commit those acts.
With an intensity that indicates that Christ has died-Christ is risen-Christ is coming again.
My forearm becomes a bit of an ebenezer. A reminder.
Of who I was, who I am, and who I am yet created to be.
Wikipedia gives us this snippet:
“In Christianity, the palm branch is associated particularly with Palm Sunday, when according to Christian tradition palm branches were waved at the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. It was adopted into Christian iconography to represent the victory of martyrs, or the victory of the spirit over the flesh.”
The victory of the spirit over the flesh resonates with me so incredibly deeply, because of the healing and victory I have had from self-hate and loathing about my body and my physical appearance through Christ. There was a time in my life where it was completely self debilitating. I hated how I looked. How I was built. The size of my feet. My height. I was so insecure that I couldn’t be in a room with people I found more attractive than myself, or I would have a panic attack.
These were lies, and thoughts, and ideas, that were not coming to me from my Savior.
The idea that the very same young woman, who couldn’t be in a room with others looking at her without having a panic attack, could permanently put something on her body, knowing FULL WELL, that people will have opinions about it, and THEY WILL share them (one of our older members already shared with me they thought I would start with something small, like a butterfly or a seahorse. To which I reminded them that I’m Meredith Hopping, I don’t do many things small or inconspicuously), both positive and negative, is testament to the healing that has happened in my heart and soul.
I have been set free.
The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,“Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!”Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:“Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
Incidentally, I’m also saving our church approximately $0.33 every Palm Sunday now. Because you know what?
We church planters have to be scrappy.
peace to you,
My tattoo artist is Jeremy Buschmann at All Star Tattoo in St. Louis. I HIGHLY recommend him!