What Does it Mean?

ship-tattoo.jpegMy most recent tattoo is the biggest I’ve ever gotten. It took two sessions, a total of 8.5 hours sitting in a chair in perhaps the most uncomfortable position. (Truly, the way I had to sit was worse than the actual tattooing). And the final product is STUNNING.

Eddie Molina (website) did an incredible job with this piece and I’m so happy with it. And now that it’s healing and dozens of people have asked the meaning, it’s time I explain.

Of course, via a blog post. Because why would I do anything if I can’t exploit it for blog reads?

So, there are a ton of little meanings here, but I’m going to focus on the big picture. You’ll see some fig leaves, a ship, and a swan at the front of the ship.

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

-Mark 11:12-14

The entire chapter of Mark 11 confused the shit out of me when I was doing my BCC at YWAM Orlando. It just didn’t make sense.

Yeah, Jesus was making a point. If you don’t produce fruit then… then what? He’s going to curse you? And you’ll shrivel up and die?

Or maybe Jesus was just hangry?

But, knowing my God, I can assume that this wasn’t a random act of anger. Yes, Jesus shows emotions, but Mark included this story, in the way he did, for a reason.

Between the above verses and when the disciples and Jesus pass the fig tree again to see it shriveled, Jesus cleanses the temple. He sees money changers and those who are defiling the house of God and keeping people from entering into the Holy Place and thus, relationship with him, and starts overthrowing tables. Jesus shows incredible righteous anger and emotion here.

When I studied this chapter, I decided there just HAD to be a connection between the cleansing of the temple and the fig tree. Between the anger at vegetation not producing fruit and at people keeping God’s children from worshipping him.

A lack of relationship.

The Fig Tree was cursed because it wasn’t producing fruit. Then Jesus cleansed the temple because it wasn’t producing the pure, good things it was meant to. It was meant to be a house of prayer, not greed. In both parts, the disciples saw Jesus react strongly when something was not producing the fruit God created it to.

The lesson from the fig tree shows that, not only faith is important and if you ask you shall receive, but also that Jesus has the complete power. The temple is torn apart after Jesus destroyed it and the fig tree is withered. And both things were planned by God. Perhaps they may have seemed like overreactions or acts of anger, but I have to assume based on the knowledge I have about the character and nature of God, that this anger was righteous, for a reason, and not a reaction but extremely prepared and specific.

I’m going to stop myself here because I could go on for about four about 5 pages. Which, incidentally, I do. (Is this a hint for a future announcement?)

But I need to move onto the ship. This one is a bit more obvious. MOSTLY (though there are reasons) this is referring to the calming of the winds. I know my tattoo doesn’t look like the type of boat Jesus was on, but this one looks cooler. Plus, pirates. So, yeah. I took some artistic liberties.

Okay, I don’t really want to explain more. Check out this blog and this blog. 

Cool! Now, the swan.

The Swan is a symbol of purity, beauty, grace, love, and elegance. The swan as an animal totem can also help you understand better spiritual evolution and maintain grace in communication with other people.

When I lived in Amsterdam with YWAM, we would spend hours in the red light district. That was HARD.

We saw so much brokenness and pain. We saw impurity and a lack of love. We were surrounded by spiritual darkness.

In moments, it could seem hopeless.

And then we would turn around and floating in the canals would be solid white swans.

It was like a moment of fresh air. A reminder of God’s pure, untarnished, love and beauty and grace. Even in the heaviest, darkest, dirtiest places, God was still there. And his love and goodness were still unblemished.

Why did I put these together in one big tattoo?

Because I wanted to.

But really, it was a perfect duo in my head. The fig leaves symbolize the academic side of my relationship with God. The righteous anger. The reminder that I should be producing fruit. God is in control. It is the fear of God and the reminder that I love to study and ask questions and dig into the word.

And floating right next to this is the ship. The reminder to be still, at peace. That there is an emotional side of my relationship with God. That I can just be still and hear his voice and worship and feel that need for him to calm down the storms.

He isn’t always cursing fig trees and tossing over tables. Sometimes, he’s calming the storm.

He isn’t always calming the storm. Sometimes, he’s cursing fig trees and tossing over tables.

But he’s always there, pure, good, loving, graceful, leading me forward.

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