I've realized that love has almost nothing to do with agreeing and almost everything to do with grace.
I'm a big believer that everyone has a story.
I'm a big believer that we all have the option to decide what that story looks like. I'm also a big believer that all too often, we act like we know the full stories of others when we don't. Whether it be someone in the grocery store line, someone at work, or someone in our 8 AM lecture, we often take the time to judge before we take the time to understand. We often think we're loving well when we're not. I set myself on a mission to change that.
I've made it a goal to make my life look a whole lot more like love.
I've realized that it's difficult to love if I don't take time to understand. I can't fully love someone's heart until I take time to understand someone's heart. I can't fully be there for someone unless I'm there for myself, too. I've realized that love has almost nothing to do with agreeing and almost everything to do with grace. I've also realized that I don't give myself the grace that I so freely give to others. I was interrupting the narrative of love in my own life without even realizing it.
Growing up, I swore that I would never get a tattoo.
As someone terrified of needles and someone overly concerned with pleasing others, it just didn't make sense. Starting college, the idea of getting a tattoo seemed a little more plausible, but it didn't seem likely. My mom had a running joke that I would get one letter tattooed and give up on my goal. To be honest, I thought I wouldn't do it either. It just didn't make sense.
After some thinking, I realized that some of the best things in life don't quite make sense all the time. I decided to go for it.
Gradually, I realized that getting a tattoo wouldn't just be a piece of art, but a reminder. It would be a reminder of something close to my heart, yet something that I too often forget. It would also be an exercise of feeling the fear and doing it anyway. It would be an exercise of making a plan and sticking to it. It would be an exercise in realizing what happens when I don't run away. It would be an exercise in doing something and not worrying too much about the opinions of others. To be honest, that last one absolutely terrified me.
And so, I silenced my fears and got 'beloved' tattooed on my wrist to remind me that everyone is dearly loved—including myself.
In the days leading up to the tattoo, I did a whole lot of soul-searching. I realized that it's hard for me to receive love without feeling like I've earned it. I've realized that all too often, I believe that I can be loved only if I can give something in return. I've realized how hard it can be for me to love myself. I've realized that I put so much effort into my work that I forget to be loved when I don't have anything to contribute. I've been a major perfectionist my entire life, and it's a daily struggle to take a step back and realize that I am still loved, even when I'm not perfect or don't measure up to my own expectations. When I thought about a word to summarize all my fears, worries, and hopes, I kept coming back to to one word: beloved. This little word reminds me of a whole lot of things.
This little word reminds me of the power of the Gospel. This little word reminds me of the power of ultimate love.
In the midst of my brokenness, sin, and unworthiness, Jesus still calls me 'beloved.' He calls me friend. There's nothing that I could do to make Him love me more, and nothing that I could do to make him love me less. I am dearly loved not because of who I am, but because of who He is. I am free to love because I understand the source of ultimate love.
This little word is a reminder that I am loved, even when I can't do it all.
I am loved when I have nothing to bring to the table. I am loved, even when I don't understand. I am loved on the mountain and in the valley. I am dearly loved when I feel less than or worried or confused. I can rest in this truth each and every day.
This little word is a reminder to show up, both for myself and others.
It's a reminder to seek a love that is intentional, even when it's hard. It's a reminder to seek a love that is good. It's a reminder to forgive. It's a reminder to move forward. It's a reminder to live out a mission of love, even when it's hard.
This little word is a reminder that my life should look a whole lot like love each day.
I intentionally chose to tattoo 'beloved' on my wrist so that it can serve as a regular reminder. A quick glance at my wrist has already caused me to realize that the person who cuts me off in traffic is beloved. The person in front of me at the store is worthy of love. The person in my 8 AM lecture is beloved, and I owe it to them to take the time to get to know them. When I say that I want to get to know them, I want to really know them, even when it's hard.
The person in the mirror is worthy of love, too.
That last one is probably one of the hardest, but one of the most important. Every morning when I wake up, I look at my wrist. I look at my messy hair, and I realize that I am loved. I look at my wrist, and I realize that the number on the scale has little to do with who I am as a person. I look at my wrist, and I realize that my heart is far more important than my appearance. I look at my wrist, and I realize that there's far better things to be than pretty.
Here's to a 2021 of making this world look a lot more like love.
I will forever be a work in progress, but I'm filled with a whole lot of hope for what's to come. Here's to taking what's on my wrist and writing it on my heart, too. I know that we're not all tattoo enthusiasts, and that's OK. Regardless of our stance on tattoos, I hope we all have the courage to tattoo love on our hearts each and every day.
Here's a reminder for you too, friends.
Remember that you are beloved. You are worthy of every good thing. You are enough. I promise.