I'm getting a tattoo.
That's probably a weird way to start a blog. This is my first entry, so I'll introduce myself. I'm Pastor Aaron. Good. Done. Now. I'm getting a tattoo.
I've wanted a tattoo for a long time, but haven't known what to get. I suppose that's a weird thing to say also. So, let me put it this way: When I was growing up, I was the good kid, generally obeying rules and being courteous and never really coloring outside the lines. Like most young people, I had a bit of a rebellious streak, but I kept it well under wraps. But it informs parts of my personality, like the passion I feel around combating racism, for example. And every once in a while, it claims its own voice, which is why I have a earring, and why I dye my hair a crazy color occasionally like I did for the Youth Gathering this summer. And now, why I'm getting a tattoo.
It's going to be a semicolon, appearing on the inside of my left wrist. I've had the plans for a while now, but have been putting it off, week after week, because I've heard from friends that the inside of the wrist is a particularly painful place to have a tattoo done. And I admit, I'm kind of squeamish.
The idea came from something called the Semicolon Project. It's a faith-based movement to raise awareness for depression and related disorders, as well as the many deaths in our world from suicide. Think of what a semicolon is for. An author uses it in place of a period where she has chosen to continue a sentence instead of ending it. And so, as an expression of continuing our story, instead of ending it, people are drawing or tattooing a semicolon on their wrist.
I haven't hidden my depression from anyone in Massachusetts, but I haven't talked about it a whole lot, either. Depression is a hard battle. There have been times--even since I've been at this church--that I've counted it a huge success just to have gotten out of bed. Right now isn't one of those times, happily, but I don't know how long my well-being will last.
And this semicolon thing is a reminder that even when things are at their worst, it's not the end of the story. That's one of my favorite ways to articulate the good news of Jesus Christ, actually! Jesus' death and resurrection means, unequivocally, that not even death is the end of the story! It's not a period, just a semicolon. There is always more to come.
And so that's why I'm getting a tattoo. It's a reminder to myself that even the hardest struggles can be won. It's a sign to the world that none of us are alone in our struggles. And it's a proclamation of the Gospel message that God always has more in store for us.