Monday, May 18, 2015

Heart Tattoos

            Do you have a heart tattoo? You know, a permanent mark imbedded in your heart?
            Texas pastor and New York Times selling author Max Lucado manages to think of the most brilliant metaphors and analogies. It is certainly a gift God has bestowed upon him. In his 2014 book before amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer , He likens the memories of past sins to being tattoos on your heart. When I read that in the quiet, solitary confines of my reading room, it struck me as being so beautifully true, that I reacted by talking to out loud. “Brilliant! Exactly!”
            I wasn’t just thinking about my sins, though. I was thinking about how it feels to have experienced grief through the death of my baby. I could envision and almost feel a tiny “V” permanently inked into my heart for my baby Victoria. And I’m sure many of you have your own letters marked on your hearts. I can think of friends who do.
            The friend who experienced six miscarriages before finally succeeding in having a baby she ached for. She still has six tiny “B’s” on her heart for the babies who didn’t make it. My mother, whose first baby died in utero. An abnormally short umbilical cord wrapped around my sister’s neck and slowly stole the life from her. My mom has a tiny “C” for Cheryl etched on her heart. Then there’s the friend who underwent two abortions, thinking at the time that once she got rid of “the problem,” that the fear and memory would subside, but instead learned that the memory and pain of the decision nip at her heart and gnaw at her mind nearly every day of her life. If she knew the sex of her aborted babies, she could name give them an identity by naming them. If not, she has two “B’s” tattooed on her heart, too.
            Your tattoo may be fresh and still oozing from the needlepoint penetration. Or it may be old and worn. Either way, it’s permanent.
            The trick, though, is to not compartmentalize it away and live as though it never happened. That way of handling pain is simply a coping mechanism that strives to deny truth. Some take this so far as to brainwash themselves by so thoroughly suppressing the pain that they create a new reality for themselves. In doing so, they create a new “truth.”
            But neither should we live tethered to our pain, with coagulated blood forever decorating the edges, or, worse yet, wake up daily to re-imprint over the name because we simply cannot let our pain go. We’ve become so attached to it that we let it define us, and our living. It sacrifices our here-and-now life on the altar of the old one.  
            Knowing and facing the truth can set you free from living in either extreme.
            And having visions of a glorious future can help you experience joy in the present, and victory over the past.
            With that last thought in mind, I’d like to leave you with what I think is a beautiful word picture Dr. J. Vernon McGee painted in his booklet Death of a Little Child. He addresses a question so many parents have about their “missing” children.

            “Will our children be as we last saw them? I do not know nor can I prove it
            from Scripture (for Scripture is silent at this point), but I believe with all my
            heart that God will raise the little ones as such, and that the mother’s arms
            that have ached for them will have the opportunity of holding the. The father’s 
            hand that never held the little hand will be given that privilege. I believe that
            the little ones will grow up in heaven in the care of their earthly parents— if
            they are saved… What an added joy this lends to heaven in looking forward
            to having your little one again! Though the Scriptures do not teach this
            explicitly, this does seem to be the sense. Remember that David expected to
            go to his child. And referring to children Christ said, ‘Of such is the kingdom
            of heaven.”’

            Until next week,
            Thanks for joining me!