Sept. 19 at 2:00 p.m was the day that I took my top off for a man I’d only met twice before. It was also the day that I was about to break one of the laws of the Bible that up until that moment, I had lived by.
I felt strangely calm while laying on a leather mattress as my tattoo artist dubbed Reverand Colin (ironic) prepared to etch a special design in my skin.
I glanced around the room and watched as my mom hovered nearby, taking note of everything Colin was doing that I couldn’t see.
“So, what should I expect?” I asked once I heard the buzzing of the needles behind me. He paused.
“THIS is your first time? Why didn’t anyone tell me?” We shared a quick laugh and he explained that the process wouldn’t take long depending on how still I was, and when I asked the question that everyone wonders, he explained that it wouldn’t hurt too much.
“I mean, if it hurt, why else would people keep getting them y’know?”
Getting a tattoo (or twelve) was something that I’d wanted to do since I turned 18 but I hesitated for years because of religion.
I was raised as a Pentecostal Christian, a denomination of Christianity that believes in the second coming of Christ and lives by the words of the Bible – specifically the commandements and the book of Leviticus which defines certain practices to stay away from.
Markings (interpreted as tattoos) were just some of the things that one shouldn’t take part in and whenever I brought the subject up with my friends or family, a popular argument on why not to get a tattoo stemmed from this specific scripture:
“Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.” – Lev. 19:28
People I looked up to explained that tattoos were trashy, a waste of money, or deemed sinful and for a long time, those words (and many others) were like a ball and chain for me.
The same way a young girl thinks about her reputation and being deemed a slut, is the same way I saw how getting a tattoo would change who I was and what people thought of me… until my cousin passed away. For those who read my post about dealing with his death, you know that part of the process involved leaving and taking the time to reset.
It also involved a lot of reflection about who I was and what I REALLY believed in. Up until the moment I scheduled my appointment, I was way too concerned with what my friends and family would think about decisions I made and I let that determine a lot of things in my life. But I realized that way of thinking was toxic. I realized that I was an adult and my decisions were my own, and most of all,this was my body and no one had the right to tell me what I could and couldn’t do with it.
I also came to realize that what I truly believed was that the words of the Bible were sacred but (with the exception of some of the obvious scriptures) they were words to use as guidelines not rules on how to live my life. Some may disagree and that’s fine, I respect that, but as I grow older I realize that I am not my religion and my religion is not me.
My religion is merely a small part of who I am and how I think, and it’s open to molding and interpretation. Getting a tattoo was my way of liberating myself and allowing myself to take the necessary steps to become who I wanted to be.
I got my tattoo as a symbol of my freedom and though it represents a lot more, it’s something that I had to do for me. This is also the reason that I kept it to myself for so long and refused to post it on social media – because I didn’t get it for the likes.
I got it for me.
So on Sept. 19 at 2:00 p.m., I listened while Colin set the needles buzzing before pressing on my skin and going to work. 40 minutes later and I had a permanent new marking on my skin and I just felt like a new person.
It’s been three months and I don’t regret a thing. I think everyone deserves the right to feel liberated in some way and I hope I can be an example for those who have been on my shoes. Live your life the way you want.
As always, I’m curious to know what my readees think about this. Do you have tattoos, and how did it feel to get one? Whats your take on your religion? Leave comments below.