This is not a condemnation of tattoos (I will probably, maybe get one someday) or of my son.

My son came home with a new Las Vegas tattoo on his inner left forearm Sunday evening. I laughed and wanted to cry. I think about tattoos as identity. After all, they become a part of you for life. I find my identity in Jesus and cannot imagine permanently etching anything into my body that does not convey that reality.

Eli also has a D III tattoo. It denotes family. It draws a line of connection between his grandfather, Orville Douglas; his father, Daniel Douglas; and himself, Elijah Douglas. I get that. I am drawn to get a tattoo that supports my son’s and mirrors his commitment to legacy. However, I have not because even that falls short of my standard for identity. But wait, there is more.

I am called to speak out against consumerism. Our materialistic society encourages us to work hard so that we can purchase our identity on the free market. The brands we own, the experiences we buy, and the individual productivity they represent define who we are. Work hard, play hard, live well! Anything else is a sin. The Holy City of consumerism is, of course, Las Vegas (Macau learned it all from us.  Sorry New York and Los Angeles. Try harder). I freaked—quietly, on the inside. I thought, “Is this all my fault?”

I encourage Eli to question my life style and challenge God. “Do not repeat my mistakes. Be better than me as I hope to be better than my father. Tell God you don’t believe and walk away. If God is real like I believe, you’ll find out. Just, please o’ please o’, avoid sitting safely in the middle. Do not be one of millions of Americans who say they believe in Jesus, plan on going to heaven, and avoid the inconvenience of living a Christian life.” I am confident he will grow into maturity with full possession of his own identity and his own faith. I’m not raising a mini-me. I am, or at least I was, excited to see how Eli’s identify will form . . . A Las Vegas brand for life . . . Oh no!

After I finished flailing about internally and lamenting silently, I asked Eli why he choose to mark himself with a symbol representing a place much of the world refers to as Sin City. It turns out that he thinks of tattoos as narrative. Having spent the majority of his life here, Eli wanted a sign to help him tell that story. Stories and symbols I understand. My aesthetics may not match Eli’s, but I am not in an all-out panic yet.

Please pray for our family, if you are feeling led.

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