Tattoo or not Tattoo?

Time to come clean: I have a tattoo. I’ve decided it’s time to be open about what it means and what it means to me.

(A lot of people will see it this coming weekend and I know I’ll get asked a lot! So if you’re going to tell one person what it means you may as well tell everyone)

It’s between my shoulder blades and this is what it looks like.

Word in Hebrew

You’re right – I didn’t choose for its looks!

I chose it for what it means and what it means to me.

I think of it as my label which is why it’s sort of in the place where you’d find a clothes label. It is God’s name for ME! It’s what he calls me. And because so often I forget what God calls me and because, for many years, I struggled to believe that he really did call me that – I decided to have it tattooed on my back three years ago the year I was ordained priest. Conveniently this was also the year I turned 50 and my lovely husband actually suggested buying me a tattoo for my birthday BEFORE I’d even said anything about what I’d been thinking about privately for a year or two! (He knows me so well).

Amazingly, it is a word that works on many levels. It occurs throughout the Bible but especially in the Song of Solomon. It was first given to me in Deuteronomy 33:12 which I’ve come to think of as the ‘Benjamin Blessing’. Benjamin was the youngest child, I am a youngest child.  That God would bless the youngest child so tenderly moved me immensely as over many years I’ve struggled with mixed feelings about being the youngest – (long story that one… another time maybe…)  Anyway this is the blessing:

‘Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders’  

The word ‘beloved’ and the phrase ‘the one the Lord loves’ is the same Hebrew word in the original text and it’s the word above. It means ‘Beloved’.

Wonderfully, it also means ‘David’ or rather ‘Yahdid’ in Hebrew  – did you know ‘David’ means ‘Beloved’? It’s a nice extra layer of meaning for me as my beloved man is a David.

So there you go: it’s God’s name for me and it’s the name of my  life partner who committed himself to me on September 1st thirty-one years ago and hasn’t once flinched from all the complications that loving me has brought into his life.

But this morning, 48 hours away from our lovely Emma marrying the equally lovely Ben, God talked to me about my name again. This was inconvenient especially as he asked me to write about it but not that surprising as I’m aware a lot of people will see my tattoo this weekend and be curious. Anyway, God revealed two new layers of meaning to me, how could I have not spotted these before?!

The word ‘Beloved’ can also be read ‘Be Loved’. And what greater thing can we desire for our children than they also ‘Be Loved’?

So Emma and Ben, this blog post (which was certainly not on my ‘to do’ list today!) is dedicated to you. Probably you won’t get time to read it till your honeymoon but that’s okay. Our prayer for you both is that you will always ‘Be Loved’ and always know that you ARE loved not just by your family and friends who are gathering to celebrate you but by God who created you and gifts you with His Love and his Blessing on your marriage.

P.S. The 2nd surprising layer of meaning was the connection to the ‘Benjamin Blessing’ verse – from Saturday I will have a son in love (and law) called Ben 🙂

P.P. S If you don’t want your kids to get a tattoo, beat them to it and get one first! Emma was appalled and Matt was shocked three years ago when I first told them, but I think/hope they are ‘cool’ with it now.




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