While the social stigma about tattoos still clings in many families and communities, Parker argues that "for all we know, a guy or gal could have gotten their tattoos next door to a preschool... on a Tuesday afternoon… after getting their teeth cleaned."
"But for those who do have a juicy, 'dark alley' story behind their tattoo—one filled with regret, one they’d like to move past—what better way to have their dignity restored than to have a tattooed neighbor, pastor, or co-worker reach out in friendship?" Now, this doesn't necessarily mean everyone should go out and get a tattoo just for the sake of networking, but Parker suggests that "if you’ve got one, God can use it to put people at ease and build solidarity."
"Much like grief, tattoos are highly personal. But unlike grief, tattoos are oftentimes out in the open for all to see," Parker explains. "Memorial tattoos can help people confront their grief when the significance of their loss is displayed. Also, tattoos in remembrance of service to one’s country can create a healthy sister and brotherhood among fellow veterans."
Parker recalls a Christian family camp in the redwoods of California, one where she's gone with her family and experienced "40 years of sweet memories, timeless traditions, meaningful connections, and tender God-moments." While she has no tattoos, Parker thinks if she got one, "it’d be a small redwood tree as a reminder of my roots at camp, the place that grounds me every summer. Then as life runs its course throughout the year, with its highs and lows, I’d have a small tattoo to daily renew my perspective. Much in the same way I’ll stick Bible verses on my mirror or on my fridge to remind me of God’s presence, my little redwood tree would act like a Post-it note for the body."
Here, Parker offers a fantastic reason to get a tattoo: "Just the other week, a friend shared about her niece who was born with Situs Inversus, a congenital condition in which the major visceral organs are reversed. She said doctors are suggesting she get a tattoo on her chest, notifying emergency personnel of her condition, should she ever require immediate care."
Medical uses for tattoos are becoming more common, she says. "There are also radiation tattoos that determine the exact area for treatment, applied to the skin for precise targeting. Sometimes tattoos are needed to replace medical bracelets—and so much more."
"Many people get beautiful tattoos to cover their 'imperfections,' such as scars and burns," Parker adds. "They can act as a confidence-booster, especially at the beach when sporting a bathing suit. But one thing to consider: large scars and burns require even larger tattoos, taking up a sizable portion of skin real estate—so it’s definitely worth thinking through."
Listen up, young people! "Because tattoos and regret often go hand-in-hand, tattoos can also serve as great reminders to make better choices," Parker explains. "If a person is obsessed with the Philadelphia Eagles at age 21, they may not be at age 75. And while tattoo removals are becoming more effective, they’re still a little iffy."
Before going in for a tattoo in honor of someone or something you love or respect, take time to pray it through, she suggests. "And if the thought of a loved one tattooing your name onto their bodies gives you the heebie jeebies... it’s too late, for someone already has. Isaiah 48:16 says, 'See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands,' revealing that God is all-out committed to you."