I'm going through some very difficult things in my life right now- things that I swore would never happen to me. I have scars on my heart that the world will never see, but the world CAN see this swallow engraved on my back. I chose a swallow because it represents freedom and hope. In the days of sea travel, sailors tattooed themselves with swallows to denote long distances traveled. "...Legend holds that since swallows return to the same location every year to mate and nest, the swallow will guarantee the sailor returns home safely. A sailor would have one swallow tattooed before setting out on a journey, and the second swallow tattooed at the end of their tour of duty, upon return to their home port"(taken from wikipedia.com). Life is a long hard journey, but God's care ensures that we will return safely to Him someday.
The process of tattooing involves puncturing the skin with needles and injecting ink into the dermis, the second layer of skin below the epidermis. Tattoos are permanent because they are embedded deep in the skin. Getting a tattoo is painful! It not only hurts during the process but for days afterwards.
Much in the same way, God often has to puncture our hearts beneath the surface, deep into our souls, in order to refine us. The trials He gives us hurt deeply, but it is the trials that hurt the most that teach us the most. I like to think that God is tattooing a beautiful design on my soul, and that even though the pain right now is almost unbearable, someday His beautiful design for my life will be finished and my pain will end.