Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Is That a Tattoo?

My son Ron and I sat on the sofa and talked, warm fingers of sun oozing through the curtains. I turned to face him. I like eye contact, especially with my kids. Were those navy blue robot feet stepping out just below the hem of his shirt sleeve? I worked to keep my voice calm; lowered it two notches. "Son, is that a tattoo?"

He lifted his sleeve to unveil the splendid artwork. There stood a smiling robot sporting a necktie, a pen peeking over the top of his shirt pocket. One of Ron's happiest creations, drawn several years earlier when he was a carefree high school student.

But now it was on his upper arm. Forever. "When did you get this done?"

"God's Tattoo," one of the drawings Ron did for my book
Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top
He smiled, patient and calm like usual. "About six months ago." 

I sighed. "I hate to even ask you how much it cost."

"A hundred dollars."

I felt my heart flatten. "Oh, son. I just hope it doesn't ruin your chances of finding a good job." 

Again his patient smile. He didn't even have to work at keeping his voice even. "I thought long and hard about this, Mom, and I feel I can live with Robot Executive as a permanent part of my body. I'm really not worried about job interviews. I'm an artist*after all."

I had to agree, even though I hated the idea of marking up his lovely skin with a needle and ink. This was my baby boy. Well, he had been twenty-some years before. 

Several years after Robot Executive's arrival on Ron's shoulder, I noticed a second tattoo
on his other arm. It was a simple drawing he'd found in one of his dad's old clip art books. It showed a hand gripping a rubber stamp that read "APPROVED," which had been imprinted on the surface below it. 

I stared at it for a minute before speaking. "Wow. I think you prophesied on this one, Ron."

"Oh no, Mom, I just thought this was kinda funky and cool. There is nothing deep about it."

But I--the Mama--knew better. I recalled all his years of self-doubt, asking the Lord for direction in his career, wondering where he fit in the whole puzzle of life. Now it seemed he had come to a place of accepting himself and the gifts God had placed in him. He was embracing the Lord's approval of Ron Levellie as a person, not for the laughs he could elicit from others or the good deeds he could do. But for himself. Made in God's image.
 Approved. It was more than just a fun piece of art stuck on his upper arm. 

It was a tattoo of grace.

At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. It helps me accept the tattoos on my son, and it helps me see that if we are in Christ, we're approved by God, regardless of our differing tastes and styles. So there. 

Do you think we unwittingly make statements about ourselves by choices we make? Have you ever changed your mind about something, like I did about my son's tattoos? 

*Ron has created all the drawings in three of my four published books. Please email me at jeanettelevellie@gmail.com if you'd like to hire him to illustrate your next book!