I got a new tattoo a few weeks ago. I really like it. My grandma doesn’t. She hates tattoos. She doesn’t understand “Why you young people have to mark things on your bodies.” She’s cute and l love her so much. And regardless of my tattoo, I know she loves me too.
Hesed is scripted on the side of my wrist. It’s Hebrew for covenant love or loving-kindness. Capturing the true meaning of the word in English is difficult. It’s better defined as a life-style. Like the love Ruth lived for Naomi. It’s the love Boaz lived for Ruth. It’s the kind of love that has no strings attached, doesn’t think about self, loyally loves regardless of feelings, day in and day out, in the hard and in the easy. It’s a sweet love, like the love between a husband and wife. It’s a lasting, never ending love. It’s the kind of love the Father has for His people. The kind of love I want to spew out of me like a geyser and wash over the precious ones in my life and those watching.
Tattooing that word on my body is so much easier than living it.
Sometimes I literally go in the bathroom and close the door, just to be alone. It doesn’t change the fact that I am still needed. There is always a little knock and voice on the other side of the door calling my name. After a few seconds, I’ll see those tiny, brown fingers wiggling underneath. I never knew the bathroom before to be a place of such retreat.
Right now I’m working full time and my husband works nights in the NICU. So I work a full day and come home to two little people who seem to always fall apart when I walk through the door. My husband wakes up right in time to entertain them while I cook supper and pack lunches for the next day. We see him off to work, and I do bath and bedtime by myself. The few hours between the babies going to bed and the time my head hit the pillow aren’t exactly rest either. I’m sweeping up food thrown in the floor from the tantrum at dinner. I collect all of the sippy cups scattered around the house. Run the dishwasher. Iron and lay out clothes for the next day. Check emails, pay bills, and clean the kitchen. The baby has been sick so when it’s my time to go to sleep, I’ve been up with him every night, and working with dark bags underneath my eyes the next day. It honestly seems to never end, the exhaustion. I know you know what I mean.
I’ve learned that when I am physically exhausted, without realizing it, I can become spiritually tired too. I start believing lies about myself and my family. I start to feel frustrated that I am not seen, recognized, or appreciated. After those thoughts start stirring around for a day or so, I develop this annoying, entitled attitude.
“I deserve a break. I deserve to go to the bathroom alone. Or for heaven’s sake can I not just eat without being interrupted?” I start keeping score. “I haven’t slept either. I’m just as tired as you. It’s your turn. I just changed that last dirty diaper.”
There is this distance between the Father and me. I have trouble connecting with my husband, because rather than seeing him as who he is, my beloved, the one I loved first, I see him as two extra hands to help with the chaos of our life. I start to see my children, the ones I prayed so long for, as jobs. My friends hear more of my griping than my engagement in their lives.
And then Father reaches past that distance, and speaks His love all over my heart. He reminds me who I am. I am His. He reminds me what He did for me on the cross. And He reminds me that knowing Him is the greatest accomplishment I can ever have.
The Spirit softens the edges of my heart, the veil is lifted from my eyes, and I am able to love again, freely, without expecting anything in return. Because I already have it all, in Him.
The more I know Him and the more time I spend with Him, the more I start looking like Him. The more I rub up against Him, the more He rubs off on those sweet ones in my life. I don’t love because I have to or serve because it’s a rule I have to follow. I love because of Him. Because He is so irresistible and love just happens the more I know Him.
I got my tattoo, so in those moments of entitlement, I can have a physical reminder of how I want to live this life, a life of hesed. But really, my prayer is that the more I know the Father, He will tattoo it on my heart.
I think my grandma would like that one.
Photos by Rachel Ackerman Photography