Affirmation via Tattoos and Piercings

“He wandereth abroad for bread, saying, ‘Where is it?’…” Job 15:23

Within recovery, there is often the need to commemorate the struggle, the courage and the life-affirming process, via tattoos and piercings.

Indeed, I’ve encountered many young people who have significant dates and meaningful logos marked on their skin. Likewise, eyebrows, nostrils and lips are also pierced, in the declaration of some kind of personal freedom from pain.

John Lennon once stated in his lyrics, “Whatever gets you through the night, it’s all right, it’s all right.” I certainly can understand that viewpoint. My darkest moments had me looking for any point of light. When one is desperate to overcome seemingly hopeless circumstances, any avenue will do.

For what I am doing, I do not understand…” The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15

In my communications with young people, pursuing the tattoo and piercing avenues, the argument is often made about how getting a certain body modification will reinvent, empower, and heal them from whatever they have faced in the past. This includes abuse, disorder, addiction, loss and pain. Indeed, many have, therefore gotten NEDA heart logo tattoos, a date of his/ her last drink or a pierced septum to symbolized freedom from self-defined slavery. The list goes on and on, unique, specific and personal.

And, while they may know exactly what they want and what they think it represents, all too often, they may be clueless about the why question and the state of their hearts.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Ephesians 4:18

So, these commemorations become distractions – and can produce that disappointed result of feeling continually lost.

“He wandereth abroad for bread, saying, “Where is it?’…” Job 15:23

The tattoo or the piercing is not the problem; rather, its significance is. When that body modification becomes the answer, there’s where the idolatry and unrealistic answers can often come in.

For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.” Psalms 96:5

The word’s definition reads as follows:

1) image of a deity, etc., as an object of worship.
2) the object of excessive or supreme adulation, a graven image icon, effigy, symbol, fetish, totem, god, hero or heroine, star, celebrity.

Yes, if we’re looking for any kind of mark on our physical bodies to be our answer and our salvation, we are setting ourselves up for great disappointment. God is the only way the lost can be found.

That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, “Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.” John 18:9

For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” Matthew 18:11

Accept no substitutes. Body modification stops at the body. It does not transcend the soul and spirit.