Monday, July 21, 2008

A Tattoo for My Birthday

Today's my birthday, and I'm thinking about getting a tattoo. I've been thinking about getting one for several years and almost did a couple of years ago when Michelle and I were in Hollywood, CA together. We were walking along the "Walk of Fame" checking out all of the stars when we stumbled upon a tattoo shop. How cool would it be to say that I got a tattoo in Hollywood? Very bold. Very daring. Very cool. Very much unlike me to do so. We didn't get one that day because I couldn't decide what to get, and I couldn't talk Michelle into getting one with me.

Since then, I've been thinking off and on about getting one. My daughter, Emily, swears that I promised her that we would get one together on her 18th birthday (next May), but I have no recollection of ever making that promise.

The first time I ever really considered getting one was back in 1996 when I was at lunch with my friend, Brett Ray. I got to know him because I used to be in charge of a large summer youth conference in Ohio, and he was one of the speakers we regularly brought in. Brett is a phenomenal speaker who now does marriage conferences for Family Life Ministry with his wife, Carol. One day we were having lunch together and Brett informed me (now that we were becoming closer friends) that he had a tattoo. I had never seen it, but knowing him, I wasn't really surprised. I asked him where it was, hoping that it wasn't somewhere on his body that I didn't want to see. He unhooked his watch and revealed some letters tattooed on his wrist; letters that were completely covered by his watch band. Upon closer inspection, I saw that words "bleed grace" had been ornately tattooed on his wrist. He explained that someone once told him that he was a man who bleeds grace, and soon after being told that, he got the tattoo to always remind him to make sure his life is marked by grace. I thought that was pretty cool, and it got me thinking.

What do I need to always remember? What words are so important to me that I would consider having them tattooed on my body? In the years that followed, I really couldn't think of anything. I wouldn't mind having the name "Michelle" tattooed on my body, but I've always told her that if I did, I'd have it tattooed on my rear end. She's not really excited about that idea. And then there's this guy I know who has all the names of his kids tattooed on his neck. I'm not a big fan of that. It looks kind of weird, and it would be hard to cover up. Plus, it's not right to put their names on my neck when right now, I spend most of my time wanting to wring theirs!

And then, God revealed something to me. Something very profound. Something worth writing on my body. I have always been a worrier who struggles to keep everything around me under my control, and when I can't control things, I get frustrated and angry. This has caused a lot of damage to those closest to me: my wife and kids. They've lived with a man who loves them dearly but who is driven by fear. This fear leads to my need to control, and it's taken a toll on them. I used to think that my problem was anger, but the Lord has revealed to me (through some pretty rotten circumstances) that my anger is just a symptom of a deeper problem. Fear.

I'm not afraid of the dark (usually) nor am I afraid of my shadow, but I am afraid of a lot of things. I'm afraid of screwing up. I'm afraid of regret. I'm afraid of losing control. I'm afraid of losing the people and things that I love. I'm afraid to put my complete faith and trust in the Lord. And, I'm even afraid that someone will read this and think I shouldn't be their pastor anymore.

However, God is doing a work in me, and even though I'm afraid of it, it's been life changing, revolutionary, and really good. He's teaching me that He can be trusted, and He's teaching me that He's so trustworthy that I can relinquish my need for control over to Him...and He can handle it. I think I'm starting to get it. You know how I know? I'm not nearly as scared as I used to be, and as a result, I don't try to control things as much, and I'm not nearly as angry as I used to be. I think this is what it means to be free in Christ. It's a freedom I've never really understood nor experienced, but I'm starting to get it, and I like it...a lot.

So, what words do I think just might be worth tattooing on my body? I've thought about this a lot lately, and I think - for me - the words "no fear" would be a good choice. And if I feel really spiritual on the day of my tattooing, I may change it to "fear not" because when Jesus spoke in the King James dialect, these are the words he used.

The other day, I was driving and came upon a car at a stop light. I looked over and saw a very old lady driving. On her left arm was a tattoo. It did not look good at all on her. I'm sure it looked just fine when she was my age, but it kind of frightened me, to be honest. Made me think. I'm not getting any younger. As a matter of fact I just turned another year older today. Maybe getting a tattoo is not such a good idea for me. I guess I'll hold off until Emily forces me to consider the idea again in May.


Darcy said...

Ahahaha! Yeah, I can understand why your wife is not so keen on the rear end tattoo plot.
I know this was not the main point of your post - tattoos - but rather letting go of fear - however I think it's neat that you want one. I have a hankering for a tattoo as well...but my husband is adamantly opposed to the idea. Oh well. I have a big birthday coming up in December...maybe he'll come round by then. But then again...I have a fear of maybe this isn't the best idea after all.

As far as the fear thing made my eyes smart with tears. I can really empathize with that.

Tony said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Darcy said...

As far as Emily getting one...she might be interested to read this article first:

Brian said...

I didn't realize that putting you out on the front porch in your underwear when we were kids would leave you with such long term issues! For that I truly and sincerely apologize!

Great posts so far. I just blew off 1/2 hr of work to read through them, and you're certainly tackling some heavy duty topics. Keep it up!

Oh, and if you end up getting a tattoo on your back end, let me know -- perhaps a trip back to the porch would be in order...

Love ya Bro!

Evonne said...

How about considering a really well designed piece of jewelry-- a nice, hefty, masculine bracelet, a pendant, a ring? Or engrave your know, something that won't fade, and wrinkle, and sag when you do!

Evonne said...

RUNNING SCARED-fear, worry, and the God of Rest by Edward T. Welch comes highly recommended.

Mike Potter said...

That's a good idea, Evonne, but is it edgy enough? You know, I do have an edgy side that does rear it's edgy head every once in a while! Think it would be satisfied with a piece of jewelry...even if it is masculine?!

nancy said...

Hey Guys, Where was I when you you made your famous appearance on the front porch?!

Maybe it is a good thing I didn't know about all of your shenanigans.
Oh well, we all survived and I am proud of both of you.

Love, Mom

jill said...

I just remember that I was inside when Mike was locked out. And honestly I had nothing to do with it! Besides, Mike was so darn little (back then!) that he could have crouched down in the corner of the porch, and no one would have seen him until his mother could have rescued him in due time. But, if he was being his typical self (back then!), he probably stood on the porch ledge and shouted like there was no tomorrow!! Question: Did Brian TAKE your shorts, or were you running around the house in your underwear (like you always did back then!)? Just wondering.....