Who gets a tattoo when they are 42 years old? Me. Impulsive, wild, crazy me somehow missed the “lower back tattoo” trend in the 90’s and opted for no needles. I instead opted for a foot tattoo in a foreign language. Cliché at best, right??
I got my first tattoo at the age of 42 after my second trip to Haiti. It says “Renmen Lavi” Here is the story:
I was doing an individual session with a young man who experienced things you can’t even imagine. He was in a restavek situation and all the difficulties that go with it plus a lot of additional trauma.
We started our session with him drawing on an “award ribbon” and I asked him how God made him special. He immediately said something in creole. I looked to my translator who said, “He is friendly.” I exhaled feeling confident that some of my play therapy techniques could translate.
I went on….”How else did God make you special” I asked.
His reply: “Renmen lavi.” I looked up at my translator whose smile was both sad and sweet. “Loves life. He loves life.”
Tears filled my eyes. I was sitting in front a child whose life was harder on the easy days than mine has ever been on my worst day. I flashed to the moments of insecurity, doubt, fear, anger that I felt over small annoyances—the times I doubted God’s plan for me because it just wasn’t happening fast enough ----the times that I didn’t love my life because I wasn’t getting my way with the people I love the most. The times that I hurt so much that I can’t breathe. The times that I cry in session with someone and wish I could take away their pain. The times that I see how we treat each other and think---how can this be happening?? All those times that I didn’t love life but also didn’t do anything to change it.
Renmen Lavi. I made a promise to love my life. Always. Forever. As God has given it to me. The ups. The downs. The times I get my way and the times I don’t. Because it is all a gift. A Beautiful Gift.