Friday, November 21, 2014

link your ink // the swallow's broken chains

Cassie and I are SO excited to be sharing this linkup with you today. We both love tattoos, how they tell pieces of the whole story of a person. The permanence of the artwork that embeds itself into someone's skin.

I do think there are some tattoos that are reckless and not exactly art or story telling.

My ink, though...mine is deep. And it's a big part of a story.

Digital representation of my ink. It's on my lower hip...not exactly a location a photo needs to be taken of.

I got this tattoo exactly three years ago tomorrow, two days after my 21st birthday. And I was in a deep dark point in my life. This tattoo, once meant to give me permission to run from deep pain, is now a symbol of redemption.

I wrote on Cassie's blog a while back about sex in marriage and I noted that I didn't wait until my wedding night to have sex. At the time of this tattoo, I subscribed to the belief that "it's my body, I'll do what I want, with who I want, and it doesn't matter." 

I had an extremely traumatic experience when I was a freshman in college that led to this belief forming. I don't plan to go into detail on that experience on this blog. At least not now, possibly not ever. Suffice it to say, it really messed me up for a really long time. And I was already a little messed up.

I've also briefly noted that I struggled with body image in the past. When I got this tattoo, that struggle was plummeting fast to what would be its lowest point in my life.

Two months after getting this ink, I would drop 17 pounds in one month, but that still wouldn't be enough.

Five months after getting this tattoo, my parents rallied around me and got me the help I needed to face my pain, learn to enjoy food rather than see it as the enemy, and ultimately brought me into the friendship that would result in me meeting Jesus.

 The swallow was meant to symbolize me flying away from pain, away from the things that haunted me, and away from having to face it and what it had done to me. I wanted to be free of the rules, free of restriction, free of hurt, and free of the broken girl I had become.

Then, grace happened. Jesus came. Jesus took over. Recovery started. 

Recovery from eating disorders (there, I've said the words. Someday I might write more about them but for now just saying the words here is brave enough) is no joke. To be perfectly blunt, it totally sucks. Recovery from doesn't even begin to cover it. 

But after months and months and MONTHS of work, meeting friends who showed me Jesus, who knew the absolute worst things I had ever done (and there were some really bad things) and who loved me anyway, focusing on healing broken relationships with my parents, and embracing the process of moving forward, I finally learned what freedom feels like.

The swallow in my tattoo was drawn by me, and was traced by the artist onto the template he would use to ink me. The wording "live free" is in my handwriting. This ink of's 100% my art. Someone else just put it there permanently.

Proverbs 26:2
Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, So a curse without cause does not alight.

My swallow now represents my past not being a curse to me anymore. It represents grace taking over, Jesus protecting me, and allowing me to fly free of the chains of pain that once bound me.

Romans 8:1-2
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 

The words once written in anger, pain and denial now mean that I am no longer bound by who I was. I am no longer captive to my pain or my demons.  I am free in Christ. 

My ink is a visual representation of the deepest memories of my soul. The darkest, the most beautiful, and the dark turned to light. My story is held in the lines on my skin. My pain and my redemption both represented forever.

Some say "what if your tattoos stretch as you age? What if it doesn't look like it did when you got it?" I me, it already looks different. It's more beautiful now than it ever was before. I dare say, it will only get more beautiful with time, as my story plays out in years to come.

This is my ink. This is my story. This is the love of the Lord written on my skin.

And now, I invite you to join together with us and link your ink and your story too.

Sew my Soul

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  1. You're so strong. Jesus is just so good. So full of redemption and hope. Love you friend, thanks for your courage to share!

    1. Thank you dear. Love you back and all your strength!

  2. He is so, so good to us! I love how the meaning behind your tattoo grew and changed with you. I love that you and Cassie thought of this link-up, I'm sure we will hear so many courageous and inspiring stories! Love and hugs to you!

    1. He definitely is! It has changed meaning all the time and will continue to do so. I have loved seeing this linkup grow full of such beautiful stories. Hugs back at you, far away blog friend!

  3. "Too me it is more beautiful than it ever was before." Wow, what a powerful story. God is good.

  4. This is absolutely amazing! Your story, your tattoo, your heart - it's so beautiful. I love how Jesus rescues us because Lord knows, we need more rescuing than anybody else. Thank you for such a great link-up, and for sharing a part of your life story :)

  5. Kaitlin, can I just tell you how inspiring you are? Your blog has quickly become one of my favorites to read each day (or whenever you post). I love the story behind your tattoo! It's beautiful. I, too, have a tattoo of a swallow. I'll have to share my story and link-up as well.

  6. You are so right about a tattoo telling a story of a person. Your story is a beautiful testimony to how God works in our lives even when we don't know it. You are strong and courageous woman and I believe God is using you for amazing things!

  7. I love how a story unfolds from a tattoo. It's usually never what we expect it to be and yet it is our own and beautiful in every way. I love that your tattoo meant one thing and now means something more to you. Such a great testimony it tells.

  8. Your last sentence is what really got me. People rarely see my thigh piece except in the summer when I'm in a bathing suit, but many people have asked me what I'm gonna do when I get older and it doesn't look the same. Essentially, even if it droops down to my toes by the time I'm 90, this tattoo has changed and grown with me, and I love it more now than I did when I first got it. It shows me who I was at the time and how far I've come since then, and that's a reminder I don't mind having every time I look in the mirror.

  9. Wow, what a touching story! I don't have a tattoo and probably never will, but I really love hearing the stories behind other people's tattoos. Even the biggest, burliest biker dude can have the most touching story behind his tattoos. Incredibly personal and beautiful.


  10. ah. So much love for this link up. I have a swallow as well, tattooed near my collar bone, though its a traditional "Sailor Jerry" design. One thing I love about the history of swallows in tattoo culture is that people (primarily sailors) would get them tattooed on themselves as "a promise of a safe return home" and I really like to think of it as despite the things that get thrown at as us in this world, with Jesus we always have that promise of a safe return home, with the Father.

  11. What a beautiful story and such an amazing idea for a link up! Thank you so much for sharing yours, going to go look at some others :D


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