I wrote this story for a paper for school. I don't feel like changing it or shortening it or anything of that manner. You get it as it is. (I did change the very end, when I state how long I've had it. I felt like I could do at least that much.)
Romans 12:21- “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.” I’d heard the verse from time to time during my childhood, but I never thought much about it. To me, it was just another Bible verse that my parents expected me to follow. When I was around the age of thirteen, my opinion of anything having to do Christianity and the Bible began to deteriorate rapidly. I was tired of being condemned, of being chastised and belittled. Many of the “Christians” in my life had been, in a word, cruel to me. I abhorred the Bible, my conservative family, my Christian school, and the church my parents forced me to attend. Lonely, introverted, and depressed to the point of suicide, I wanted nothing to do with God. Self-injury became part of my life; small red lines began appearing on my stomach, arms, and shoulders- but not my wrists. Never my wrists.
Over the past year, I’ve been slowly crawling my way back to God (not, however, to Christianity. I consider the two to be completely different, and will probably always have that mindset). It has not, however, been easy. A few months ago, my mentor and friend (who happens to be the pastor of the church I’ve been attending since this summer) offered me encouragement in the form of a verse. “12:21,” he wrote on a piece of paper. Then he smiled at me. “ ‘Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.’ It’s your anthem.”
I was incredulous. The only times I’d heard the verse before, it’d been recited with a tone of condemnation. Now, it was being offered to me as encouragement. As hope.
I began writing the numbers on my wrist in pen. It seems like such a trivial matter, writing on ones wrist, but it was difficult for me. All my life, my wrists have been sensitive. I’ve protected them obsessively. They’ve been, in a sense, the tangible evidence of my vulnerability and insecurity. I felt as though I was overcoming something, overcoming my fear.
When the idea came to me to get the numbers tattooed onto my wrist, I was overcome with a storm of emotions. I wanted it more than anything- I wanted my new anthem with me forever; I wanted that sense of hope with me for the rest of my life. I wanted to vanquish my trepidation. Yet I was afraid… I was so afraid. Even during the darkest moments of my life, even when my entire arms were cut up, I’d never allowed a blade to touch my wrists. And here I was, with the idea in my head to allow someone to touch it. Not just touch it- to use a blade to essentially cut it open and inject ink into it.
The idea didn’t leave me. Oh, I battled it inwardly. My excuses ranged everywhere from logical to ludicrous: “Tattoos make it more difficult to get a job.” “My parents will stop paying for my car insurance.” “It’ll get infected and I’ll die.” Ultimately, though, I knew I needed to get it done. I knew that, regardless of anything else, it’d be a step in the right direction.
On November 11, the day before my eighteenth birthday, I called Laughing Gremlin and made the appointment.
The next day, I drove over after school. I arrived at the small purple building. I was alone.
Amy greeted me with a warm smile and introduced herself as the owner of the Laughing Gremlin. After showing her what I wanted done, I found myself whisked into a room and then seated in a chair which resembled a barber’s chair. Amy chatted amiably through the entire process. I sat and watched as the needle entered my wrist over and over in a vibrating motion, injecting ink, emitting droplets of blood; I was entranced. The feeling was unpleasant at first, but grew evermore painful as the needle drew nearer to the center of my wrist. I finally closed my eyes, unable to watch, trying to not cry from the pain and the knowledge that something was cutting into my wrist.
Suddenly, it was done. I looked at my wrist. It was red and puffy, but the image was dark and clear: 12:21. I’d done it.
I’ve had the tattoo for a month as of tomorrow, and couldn’t be happier with it. It’s healing wonderfully, looks beautiful, and brings me encouragement every time I happen to glance at my wrist. More than that, though, it is a reminder that I can overcome. “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.” Has the tattoo magically changed me into a better person? No. But by getting it, I overcame my simple fear of anything coming near my wrists. And by having it with me, I am forever armed with the reminder that, regardless of anything that may come my way, I can overcome.