I never dreamed of getting a tattoo. However, I also never dreamed that I would get a divorce. But sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way we dream it will.
Several years ago, after nearly three decades of building a life together, my seemingly perfect world fell apart.
My husband decided he wanted something different. I was heart-broken, angry, and terribly confused. How could this happen to good Christians like us? My search for answers started me on a journey that included counseling ( a LOT of counseling) and many hours of wrestling with God and myself over the big question of WHY? Why had all of my prayers for our marriage gone unanswered? How could I face life alone as a single mother of three children? Had all of my striving to be the perfect wife fallen short? Why was I not enough?
My striving for perfection and search for answers went into high gear.
I became convinced that if I studied enough, counseled enough, prayed enough, and obeyed enough, my life would somehow make sense to me again. So I tackled this crisis in my life with the same intensity I brought to everything that mattered most to me, always asking “What can I do to make things better? What can I do to fix this?” You see, I’ve always been a “do-er.” A keeper of lists. A goal-setter.
I get great satisfaction from checking something off of my “to do” list. And I believe God designed me this way. He understands my need to be doing something, because he placed this desire in my heart when He made me. And thankfully, He helped me see that while yes, I must accept my new circumstances and trust Him with the outcome, there is still something for me to do. But this was a different kind of doing.
It came to me in a Bible study I was leading with some friends in my home. These words from Romans 14:19 jumped off the page and landed on me with full force:
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.”
I looked around at my friends to see if anyone else was as startled by this as me. Make every effort. DO what leads to peace.
God wasn’t asking me to just sit by and passively receive peace.
He knows me better than that. He was asking me to make every effort for it. To do whatever I could to find it. And to make daily choices that led me there. But what would those choices look like?
Finding the answers to that question started me on a new journey of forgiveness, acceptance, and discovering my true identity in Christ. But first, I knew I would need a constant reminder. Suddenly, I wanted a tattoo.
My oldest son Andy has a beautiful story written on his body of God’s redeeming grace. One arm depicts Jesus pulling Peter up out of the water. The other shows David facing down Goliath. So I wasn’t afraid when Andy took me to meet his tattoo artist.
And now my daily “to do” list is engraved on my wrist.
It’s a sweet reminder to me that God knows me well and has given me an important assignment: “Choose peace, Jody. Make every effort for it. Do what needs to be done to establish and keep it. And trust me with all the rest.”