Tattoos, Rainbows, & Christians

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Today I am trying something new! This short story shares some issues we deal with often.  

Girls Lunch Out

Sarah, Tina, and Jessica decided to go to lunch one day to have a little girl time. They are all busy moms with teenagers and this makes for a special day. They decided on one of their favorite seafood places in town, The Catch.  As they were busy chatting and catching up with each other, Josh came to wait on them. Sarah recognized him from church.

She asks him “Are you attending The Rock Church?”  He smiles real big, “Yes ma’am, I am. It has been the best church I have ever attended. I am loving helping with the youth!”

All the ladies lift their heads from the menu to get a better look. Tina notices the tattoo peeking out to the neck of his shirt collar, and it continues all the way down to his wrist. Sarah is surprised and ask him, “Oh, then you may know our children. My son is Jacob. Tina’s son is Tyler and Jessica’s daughter is Elizabeth.”

Josh turns to Jessica and replies ever so politely, “Why yes ma’am I do.They are a great group of kids.” He takes their drink orders and walks off. 

Hissing

Tina gives him a minute to walk away, and swings her head over to Sarah and almost hisses, “What are they doing letting some guy with tattoos all over him helping with our children?  Did you know about this Sarah?” You can see the anger welling within her as her neck and face turn three shades of red.

“No, I did not, but what are you all uptight about? He seems like a nice kid.” Sarah rolls her eyes as she returns to looking over her menu to decide what to order. 

Tina’s blood pressure is rising by the second. Jessica finally breaks the silence. “Tina, I am not crazy about tattoos either, but he does seem like a nice kid. Maybe we should get to know him before we get to upset about it.” 

“What is there to know about someone who puts ink all over their skin?” Tina snaps back at Jessica.  

“Tina!” Jessica leans over towards her takes a deep breath then proceeds, “so, when someone has tattoos they are automatically unsaved, and God is not able to reach them?”

Tina looks down at her menu again, and squirms in her chair for a minute. Jessica is too nice. She thinks the best in everyone, and never sees what could be wrong. Tina finally decides to reply after a long awkward silence, “No, I don’t think people are automatically unsaved when they have tattoos. However, he is working with our very impressionable youth. Do you really think he is the best example for them to be around?” 

Heart on Fire

“I think if he has a heart for God he is the best person to be around our children.  I would rather a young man with a heart on fire for God be an influence on our children than someone who is just playing church. You know just because someone plays the part does not always mean they are following God.” Jessica’s sincerity makes sense to Tina, but she struggles to let this one go. 

JW 1

Josh returns with their drinks, and flashes his smile to see what they would like to order. He feels the tension, but acts like nothing is wrong. “Ladies, are you ready to place your order now?”

Tina decided to see what she could find out.  She was not convinced Josh was the best fit to be around the youth. She goes first.  “Well, I will have the Shrimp Salad with Catalina dressing.”  She looks up at him and hands him her menu. “So, how did you find out about our church?” 

“My friend Alex Brand comes in here often, and was telling me how much he liked it. I had tried a few other churches, but none of them felt right until I went to The Rock Church. When Pastor Bobby met me and found out I played the drums, he asked if I wanted to help with the youth and play the drums for worship time. Of course, I said yes! I love playing the drums, but I have never been able to play in a church. I have been attending and helping for little over a month now.”

God’s Amazing Work

Jessica is enthralled with his story. “Wow! It is amazing how God works things out for us. You sound like a pretty talented guy Josh. Are you in college?” 

“Yes, I went into the Army for four years out of high school, but injured my ankle real bad. I was not able to do my duties anymore. So, I decided to get the degree my parents had hoped I would. I am working and going to school.”

“That is great!  What are going to school for?,” Sarah asked. 

“Right now business management, but I am not really sure what I want to do.” Josh shrugged his shoulders. You could tell he had drive, but was not sure what direction to go. 

Ask God 

Jessica felt prompted to say “You know Josh, I was almost 40 when God finally showed me clearly what he wanted me to do. Well, actually, he showed me before, but I did not listen. The best thing you can do is ask God to show you what He wants you to do. It is hard to know what to do when there are many good options. It is hard to know which one is the best one.

When I finally prayed for clarity and wisdom, God showed me where He wanted me to go. I will pray God will give you wisdom and clarity.”

“Thanks, what is your name?” Josh inquires. 

“Oh forgive us, we have been asking you all kinds of questions, and we never properly introduced ourselves. I am Jessica Thatcher.” She points to Tina to introduce herself.

“I am Tina Thomas.” Tina sighed and poked Sarah to go next. She couldn’t believe how “nice” they were being to this little hoodlum. 

“I am Sarah Cole. We are so glad you decided to come to our church. I am sure God has amazing plans for you.”

“Thank You Mrs. Cole.  What would like to order?”

Sarah had almost forgotten she had not ordered yet. She looks down at her menu to remember what she wanted again.  “I think I will have the Crab Cakes and asparagus.”  She looks up at Josh and smiles while she hands him her menu. 

Josh looks at Jessica, and says “Mrs. Thatcher, what would you like to order?”  

“Well . . . Hmm… It all looks so good. It is hard to decide.” She cinches up her lips in concentration as she skims over the menu.  “You know what? Crab cakes sound great! I will have those too.” She slaps her menu shut, and hands it back to Josh. 

“Great selection ladies! I will put your orders in now. It will be about 15 minutes.  Let me know if you need anything else while you are waiting.” Josh walks off, and is not sure what to think about the little inquisition from table nine today. 

As soon as he is out of earshot, Tina glares at Jessica.  

Bad Feelings

“What are you looking at Tina?” Jessica raises her eyebrows and leans back to look at Tina.  “What is wrong now?”

“I just don’t have a good feeling about this guy, and I can’t believe how nice you two are being to him.”

“How else are we supposed to act Tina?” Sarah chimes in. “I think you are the one with the problem today not Josh.”

“I don’t think you need to act all chummy with him until you know him better is all.” Tina’s voice trails off.  She knows they think she is crazy, but she just does not like the idea of someone with tattoos working with her teenage son. Tyler gets into enough trouble on his own without someone influencing him worse. 

Hidden Tattoos

“We simply asked a few questions and encouraged him on his walk with Christ. Aren’t Christians meant to encourage one another Tina?” Jessica was baffled by Tina’s reaction to this kid’s tattoos. She could not understand why Tina had such a hang up with it. 

Should she tell Tina about her tattoo? Jessica had one put on her lower back when she was in college and went to the beach with some friends for Spring Break. It was something to do at the time. She didn’t think much of it now, and rarely told anyone because it was hidden. After drawing closer to Christ, she knew this is the reaction she would get from some people. So, she felt it best to keep the secret between her and her husband. He loved it. It is a butterfly.  

“I guess, but I still don’t think we should have a college kid with tattoos all over him working with our kids.” Tina is finally calming down some, but she has this uneasy feeling about the matter. 

“Tina, do you like knowing I am a group leader with the youth?” Jessica ask Tina.

Shocking News

Tina looks at Jessica with a puzzled look. “Of course, I do. You are great with the youth. I love how they feel so comfortable around you.”

“Tina, I have a tattoo on my lower back. I had it done when I was in college on Spring Break. Are you sure you want me working with the youth now?” Jessica looked Tina in the eye waiting see her reaction.

Tina’s eyes got real big, and she put her hand over her mouth. She couldn’t believe what her friend just told her. “What? Are you serious? I can’t believe it!… No way! Well, of course I want you working with our kids. Your tattoo is different. No one can see it.”

Jessica look at her friend with compassion. “Tina, I love you, and you know I am always straight up and honest with you. But you are being a hypocrite right now. Have you thought about who Jesus hung out with during his earthly ministry? It was not the Pharisees or the Sadducees who claimed to be righteous. It was the tax collector, fisherman, the lame, the sick, the blind, the lost, the lowest of the low, the prostitutes. In the Jewish culture at this time it was unheard of for Jews to speak with Smaritians much less a Samaritan woman.

You need to trust God knows what He is doing. Do you trust Him?” 

Tina starts playing with her silverware. She does not want to make eye contact with Jessica or Sarah. She feels like a fool, but still does not think a kid with tattoos should work with the youth. Jessica reaches over, places her hand on Tina’s arm, and ask her again, “Do you trust God with your children?” Tina looks at her with irritation, “Of course, I trust God, but I do not trust college kids with tattoos around my child.”  

What defines a Christian?

Jessica takes her hand back. “Tina, what do you think defines a Christian?”

Tina ponders the question for a minute, “Someone who loves God and follows the standards of the Bible.”  

“Yes, someone must love God to be a Christian, but I was reading in Romans 3:21-22 this morning. Verse 22 says,

It says nothing about whether or not we have tattoos, or if we follow every rule in the Bible. Don’t you think Josh and others with tattoos can be Christians according to this verse?”  

Tina fidgets in her chair. She cannot stand controversial conversations, but feels she must protect her child. “Yes, they can be Christians, but does it mean I must agree for them to be an influence in my child’s life?”  

“Tina, why do you feel he is a bad influence because of his tattoos? Have you even looked at his tattoos?” Jessica gently questions her.  

Sarah is intrigued in the conversation, but not sure how to interject at this point. Jessica is handling this very well. 

“No, I have not looked closely at them. You know Tyler can tend to do obnoxious things. I don’t want him coming home with tattoos all over his body, because Josh has them.”

“Then talk with Tyler about it. Tyler is old enough to have an adult conversation. Let him know your feelings about tattoos. Pray for him too.

You know Elizabeth has told me she never wants a tattoo, because she hates needles. You may be worrying about something Tyler would never want to do in the first place.

If you look at Josh’s tattoo sleeve, you can see a guitar, a verse, and the symbol for the army. Before you write someone off as a bad person you may want to get to know them better. Elizabeth told me about Josh’s tattoos, because she knows about mine. She thought it was cool to have a part of his story on his arm.” Jessica leans back, and takes a deep breath. The tension started to release.  

Love and Acceptance

Tina perks up and looks at her, “So, you would be okay if Elizabeth went out and put a tattoo sleeve on her arm?” 

Jessica makes a funny grin, “You know what Tina, because she wants to be a pediatric doctor one day I would not recommend it. It may scare small children. However, I would still love and accept her. Just like Jesus gives us free will and he loves us no matter what we do. This would be my daughter’s choice which could affect her life. I may not be thrilled about it, but I still believe she loves God and is a Christian. Tina, I am not a fan of tattoo sleeves, but this is a choice up to each person. It does not make them better or worse than anyone else is my point. God looks at the heart. This is what we need to base our decisions on. Are people living for God from their heart, or are they looking out only for themselves?”

“Okay, Jessica, I see your point. You are right. God does look at the heart. I guess I am going to take this one to prayer for God to help me see others for who they are, and not what they appear to be in my eyes. This is hard though. When I was growing up, only druggies and thugs had 1149129_10151784112456131_1675036434_otattoos.” 

Sarah, finally has a chance to say something. “Wow you two. I don’t think we have ever had this kind of conversation before.”

Jessica shares from her heart, “No, but I think we need to more often. We need to think about what being a Christian really means. To me it means loving those who are not like me. God has really been speaking to me about this. This whole issue in North Carolina about bathrooms got me to thinking. I don’t hate transgenders and gay people, but I don’t want men in the bathroom with my daughter either. How do we stand for what we believe, and show the love of God at the same time?” 

How would you respond to Jessica’s question?
Share your answer in the comments below. 

** Josh’s character is based on a friend of mine who is a strong Christian with tattoos.

 

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About Joyce Glass

Joyce Glass is a writer, speaker, and lover of God's word even more than chocolate! Her desire is to encourage you to walk closer to God. Dig deeper in your faith. Pray in earnest daily for God to teach you His ways, and serve Him right where you live and work now.

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