Editor’s Note: Chad and Julie Veach’s lives turned upside down when they learned that their beautiful baby girl Georgia had a rare brain disorder called Lissencephaly. Soon friends began getting tattooes of the letter G in support and prayer. Before long, G-tatts were being shared on social media the world over including super stars and celebrities. Georgia’s illness continues to worsen, but the Veach’s testimony of unreasonable hope in God only grows brighter.
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I don’t know about you, but I think there’s a missing love language. There can’t only be five, right? Another language exists out there. We’ve all seen it, and it looks something like this:
The words “I love Mom” cascading down a forearm. Something in Hebrew etched along the center of a lower back. A flock of birds on an ankle, a shoulder blade, a wrist. (Really, you could put a flock of birds anywhere, and people would still find a way to make it meaningful.)
Half of a tribal symbol stretching across a chest with the other half on that person’s best friend’s chest.
Anchors. Roses. Chinese characters. Sleeves and sleeves and more sleeves!
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Love Language Six: Tattoos.
Tattoos have become a sign of loyalty, love, and endearment in our culture. Getting inked can often communicate to loved ones that “we’re in this together” or “we’re family.” It can also communicate that not everyone thinks things through before they do them. I mean, we’ve all seen some terrible tattoos out there.
I think we can all agree that a tattoo is pretty serious.
You may be surprised to discover that this sixth love language is not a revolutionary new idea. I actually believe that God originated it. That’s right, Hipster Bearded Man, you did not invent the tattoo or like it before anyone else.
God actually went out and got ink first.
Isaiah 49:16 wonderfully communicates God’s thoughts toward His people. It says,
I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.
And that was written in 740 BC, so... it’s kind of like the first tattoo ever.
I had read this verse many times before, and though it did often fill me with warm Christian fuzzies (oh, God loves me, yay!), I didn’t quite grasp what an extreme act of love this was until I had my own encounter with tattoos. Because of the G-tat and Joe and many others’ acts of love, tattoos — something I had never really wanted or thought too much about — became a very important part of my life and the Georgia journey.
It was a new kind of love and commitment, and I have been completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of this sixth love language.
Some time after the G-tat experience with Joe, I read Isaiah 49:16 again. It is such an amazing message from God to His people. God is speaking not only about engraving His people on the palms of His hands, but also on the hands of His Son. This verse comes from a portion of the Bible that foretells Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. God would soon give His only Son and, on the cross, put permanent scars on His hands.
A tattoo of us.
I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.
It’s funny how God continually uses my daughter and the reaction of my community to reveal something about His character to me. He went out and got marked for me. Not only that, but He marked His Son for me.
I mean, He’s like obsessed with me.
He’s so obsessed that He put me on His hands.
When you’re the Creator of all things, your hands are pretty important. They represent power and compassion. They’re what you build things with, create things with, reach out and hold things with.
Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.
These were Jesus’ words in Luke 23:46 as He breathed His last breath on the cross.
Hands are a trusted, sacred place, and right smack-dab in the middle of God’s are what else but my initials!
And not only did God get marked for us, but He also marks us and writes on us to reveal that we are part of His family. In Jeremiah 31:33, God says,
I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts.
I like to imagine God as a frat boy who’s super pumped about His new tattoo. “Look, I got one! It’s you!” I imagine Him saying that and then following with, “Hey, let’s mark you too!” In His excitement, He gives everybody tats to show that we’re all in this together.
I will be their God, the verse continues, and they will be My people.
God knew us and had us written on Him before we were even born. Then He went so far as to send His Son to die for our sins, and he marked his Son for us. Finally, to show us that we are His people, He marked us and wrote His promises, His hope, and His love on our hearts.
It’s hard to wrap my mind around how people I’d just met or strangers who only knew me through social media were getting tattooed in solidarity with me and my family; but even harder to understand is how a great, awesome God who’s perfect in every way went out and ruined His perfect hands with my initials. All I’ve ever done is wrong Him, yet He put me in the palm of His hands. Let me invite you into my internal dialogue with God.
Uh, God, why? What’s wrong with You? Why would You do this? When did You do this?
Was this when I signed up for that conference? Was it after I Instagrammed my daily devos?
Was it when I first stepped into a church building? Was it when I tithed regularly?
You probably regret this decision, don’t You? I mean, a tat, that’s like... permanent stuff.
I grew up in a subculture of churches in the ’90s that I tend to blame for internal conversations like these. You may have experienced the same or simply watched something similar from the outskirts. It was a culture that often shouted the phrases, “You gotta chase after God!” or “You need to get ahold of Him!”
So try to “get ahold” of Him I did. I read my Bible. I prayed with my eyes shut extremely tight. I didn’t do drugs. I didn’t sleep around.
“Am I ahold of Him yet?” I’d ask.
It was all about striving. What can I do to reach God so that He loves me? What do I need to give to God to earn His favor?
It was all lies.
Paul put it this way:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. — Romans 5:8
The answer to my questions regarding when God drove out to the tattoo parlor for me is right there. He did it while I was screwing up, before I ever knew Him. Basically, all of my devo-Instagramming means nothing because He already loves me and has loved me since the beginning.
I know that it’s hard to fathom, but we don’t take the first step. He does. It took me a while to finally learn that Christianity is not about doing stuff; it’s about receiving God’s great love.
There’s no need to be insecure around God. We can be confident that He’s in this for the long haul. As 1 John 4:18 says,
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.
We can be 100 percent confident and secure in Christ Jesus’ perfect love language. Forget words of affirmation and physical touch; we’re talking about the language of a God who sacrificed everything for us while we were still ugly, broken, dirty, and bad people.
Because of this, we don’t have to be afraid. Can all the Christians who have been killing themselves by spending 80 percent of their time apologizing to God, living in shame, and feeling rotten breathe a sigh of relief now?
To those who are highly task-oriented, you may be having a small panic attack now, thinking, What’s my job, then? What am I supposed to do?!
It’s simple. Just rest.
We never have to guess. We never have to question. He loves us. He’s together with us on this.
When it comes to my little one’s life and the stormy seasons, it’s easy to feel as if toil would get me out of my circumstance. Maybe if I just prayed one more prayer while she was in Julia’s womb she would’ve come out healthy and happy. Maybe if I fast more God will heal her. Maybe if I spend half of each day on my knees He’ll come through for my family. Maybe if I hadn’t made so many mistakes, this never would’ve happened.
But God didn’t give me a sick daughter because I lost His favor in some way, and working around the clock to earn His favor will not get her out of this situation. I have to learn to rest and trust that God not only has me written on His palms, but He also went out and got His own G-tat.
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Some assume that one moment of weakness, one moment of sin, or one mistake can shake God loose. But that is not true. Nothing you can do can put you out of God’s grace, blessing, and unconditional love. That’s why they call it unconditional. Even when you are faithless, Christ is faithful.
I am convinced of this love God has for me. Paul wrote,
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 8:38–39
Nothing I can do or have done will separate me from the love of my Father. It’s time for you to be convinced of this love too.
Watch the video for Unreasonable Hope
Excerpted with permission from Unreasonable Hope: Finding Faith in the God Who Finds Purpose to Your Pain by Chad Veach, copyright Chad Charles Veach. Published by Thomas Nelson.