It is finished. Paid in full. It is a Greek word and it is what Jesus said on the cross just before He died, bearing all our sins for all eternity. And it is what I got tattooed onto my wrist where I used to cut. In my 19 years of going to church I don’t ever remember hearing the word. It wasn’t until listening to a sermon of my preacher uncle that I was awakened to its wonder. The second I heard him use it and give its definition, I knew that would be my tattoo. For years now I’ve been planning and plotting and sketching and doodling what my tattoo would be.
I first started cutting right after turning 13, although I didn’t really understand why. After a few months I stopped and was clean for just over a year. I started again in about January of 2009 and it got worse and worse from there. I was at my “peak”. I cut constantly. That year I had been clean was the year I spent watching other people get into what I had been in, it was the year the emo reign really took over, and it was the year I had my “official rebellion” and just stopped caring. I went all out. I wore mostly black and neons. I had bracelets 8 inches up both arms and inch thick winged eye liner. I wrote depressing poetry and death notes (not to be confused with suicide notes, although I did write two or three of those). And all the while I was going to church, reading my Bible, raising my hands, etc. But maybe not for every single service.I walked a beautiful fine line. There’s a lot more to it than that but I’ll save the full story for another time. Anyway, I started tapering off at the end of 2009 and the cutting just became occasional in early 2010.
When I started designing my tattoo I initially wanted to have the first initial of every person I ever knew that cut. That list reached the point where it would have turned my wrist tattoo into a sleeve. The potential tattoo took on many forms over the years and at times was very detailed and elaborate. Especially after I quit cutting for good, because the tattoo was going to be my visual testimony and conversation starter. It had to be perfect. When I heard “Tetelestai” I was sold. It was one word. So simple. But it packed possibly more meaning than any other word ever will. So now I walk around with the Greek spelling of the word tattooed across my wrist. And since getting it done, about 3 months ago, I’ve been able to share bits of my story with several people. It’s a beautiful constant reminder everyday.
I spent the past weekend at Rock The Universe at Universal Studios in Orlando. For those of you that don’t know, it is a weekend long concert full of popular Christian artists that takes place within the Universal theme park. A few of my friends have been going every year for at least 7 years now and in the past 3 or 4 years more and more people have been added to the attendance list This was my second year going. When I first paid for my ticket I was in a better place with everyone else who goes. As the weekend was nearing I began to dread it more and more. I was not at all looking forward to spending a weekend surrounded by the very people I’d been spending the last few months avoiding. But I also have a habit of blowing everything out of proportion so when it does happen it’s never as bad as I made it out to be.
Anyway, apart from my “best friends” there were many other “new kids” who have entered the group during my time of absence and I have never met. There are even a couple people who I have spoken to occasionally but never even been introduced to. There was so much drama and tension. I even felt a hint of possible backstabbing. With all the issues that I kept hearing complaints about from one person or another, you’d think we were in the middle of a 21st century blood bath. It made me wonder if this is how I was when I was in the center of the posse. And I pray it was different then, or at least that I had a tad more common sense. Thankfully the weekend itself was quite enjoyable. The majority of my time was spent alone with Nico and/or Dani (the friend I’m the most chill with). I was more or less with everyone during the concerts and there were times when that was overwhelmingly dramatic but it doesn’t even matter anymore and didn’t alter my life in anyway.
The point I’m trying to make is this, I realized what a friend I have in Jesus. Although I didn’t read or even pray about everything that was happening, it finally started to hit me what a fantastic buddy Jesus is. The mood of the weekend made me want to screw all of life and I probably didn’t have the very best attitude but I learned a lesson from it and that’s what matters, right? Throughout the course of the weekend I got to spend wonderful quality time with my boyfriend which, with him living 2 hours away, is rare. And I finally got the courage to completely cut all ties with those “friends”. I don’t know why it is so hard for me to always remember that Jesus is the only one who is forever there for us, understands us best, etc. But He is and He does. Those who I used to spend all my time with, they have good hearts. They are well-intending people. But they are all stuck in a comfortable, upper middle class, suburban box complete with a wealthy church, Starbucks, and a Chik-fil-a. They don’t know anything or anyone outside of that.
Another thing I realized this weekend is that my heart now aches for them. I believe they’ve hurt and/or are hurting many more lives than they know. They are very aware that a responsibility comes with being the popular crowd at a youth group but I dare say they are failing. But I refuse to put the blame on them. I fully admit to and take responsibility for my own actions while I was considered part of the group. While I did say I had plenty friends outside of the initial circle I cannot honestly say that I did everything I could to make sure everyone always felt included and so on. So this is my accomplishment, my lesson, and my enlightenment for the weekend.