There Will Be Pain

Do you remember this scene from Rocky III when Clubber Lang (played by master-thespian Mr. T) gives his prediction for his upcoming fight with Rocky?

Do you know who won the Academy Award for best screenplay the year that Rocky III came out?  No?  Me, either.  But it wasn’t Sylvester Stallone.  In fact, he wasn’t even nominated.  And that’s a shame.  Clubber’s one word prediction of “pain” is the movie line that I quote the most.  And pain is also the reason that I do not have any tattoos.

I am not a pansy; my pain threshold is the stuff of legend.  If I have a splinter, I will dig into my skin with whatever I can find until it is removed.  I can pull out multiple nose hairs without flinching.  I have been the recipient of  numerous noogies and indian burns, yet I have never shed a tear over either.  I’m tough, but I refuse to purposefully put myself through pain for a tattoo.

But if this ever changes I have a few possible tattoos in mind.

1.  “Weird” Al Yankovic’s face.  Why are we still putting the quotation mark’s around the word “weird?”  I have never seen his name written without the word weird in front of it.  In fact, his career would probably not have been as successful if he was just Al Yankovic.  Anyway, I’m so White and Nerdy that having his face permanently embedded into my skin sort of sounds like a good idea. 

2.  “Krispy Kreme 4 Life.”  If you follow me on twitter and were paying attention this past Friday, I said that this was tattooed across my stomach.  Confession: I was only kidding.  But it sounds like a great idea.  And I’m pretty sure that I could get a free donut out of it.  And I could probably get out of a few tickets with it, too.

3.  An “M” on each cheek.   So when I bent over it would spell…… 

4.  A ’72 El Camino SS across my back.  There is something about those old car-trucks that stirs my redneck soul.  Sort of like when I successfully replaced a commode.  Or when I eat a turkey leg at the fair.  Or when I say “stinkin”” from the pulpit.  It would hurt, but it would be awesome-sauce.  Or whatever the kids are saying these days.

5.  Realistic looking eyes on my eyelids.  The pain of the having my eyelids tattooed would be offset by being able to escape the excruciating pain of meaningless meetings.  Plus, it would really freak out my wife’s poodle.  Have I mentioned how much I can’t stand her.  The poodle, not my wife.  My wife is great.

Honestly, though, I have no plans to get a tattoo.  And if I did there is another tattoo that would be more appropriate:  a bull’s-eye.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
John 15:18

Jesus said that those who follow Him would be hated.  Not just pastors or leaders or teachers or deacons; all believers.  Sometimes I handle the hatred and hateful words/actions with strength and perseverance.

But sometimes I grow weary and weak.

I feel like I have a bull’s-eye a mile wide right between my shoulder blades. 

And it seems like it is being hit again and again and again.

I know that my God is big enough to carry me through these times, that He hasn’t left me or forsaken me.  This knowledge does not take away the pain, though.

But I know that if I keep on holding on to His hand, the dark clouds will eventually pass.  The sun is not gone; its light is merely being obscured for a moment.

It’s going to be okay. 

The pain is real.  So is God.  And so are His promises.

It really is going to be okay.


(Do you have any tattoos?  What are some other tattoos that I should consider getting?  When was the last time you went through a period of darkness?  Share away!)

62 thoughts on “There Will Be Pain

  1. This past September we were diagnosed with a threatened miscarriage with our twins. It had been a six year journey to get pregnant and I broke down. It was a dark period for me. I ended up going to see a Christian counselor to help me deal and sort through my emotions. Praise God they made it through and were born two weeks ago! Oh and I don’t have any tattoos.

  2. No tats for me. It’s not my thing. Oh, and by the way, if your readers are even tempted, I would caution against watching the body modification documentary that’s on Netflix streaming: my wife and I got a few minutes into it, and it shows actual body parts being actually modified. I think I died a little inside. Looked so painful. We switched to Bizarre Foods.

    Most painful tattoo I ever heard of: supposedly a guy was such a huge Apple fan that he had the logo tattooed on a very sensitive area, one that is two degrees cooler than the rest of the body.

  3. Somehow I managed to escape the 90s without a butterfly tattoo. It had to be by the grace of God, because I am pretty sure in WV it became some sort of a mandate for all females between the ages of 18 – 45 to get one somewhere on their bodies. It was either a butterfly or a rebel flag, or maybe a rebel flag with a butterfly in the middle, I can’t really remember.

    After making it through that, I decided that I’m just going to steer clear of the ink until there is something that I know with 1,567% certainty I would want my grand kids to see one day and not say to their parents, “I don’t want to go to Grandma Katie’s…her weird tattoo of a dolphin jumping through a polka-dot rainbow and unicorns line dancing through a field of hydrangeas makes us feel funny inside.”

    The other day someone that isn’t a Christian said to me, “I just wish it was easier to be a Christian.” My first inclination was to say, “yeah, tell me about it. It ain’t no cake walk!” But instead of commiserating I said, “Nothing worth having in life is easy. It’s the struggle that refines us. It’s the hardships that make us stronger. If being a Christian were easy, then I wouldn’t want to be one.”

    • Astute observations on both counts. A line dancing unicorn tattoo would be awesome, though.

      I agree with your second point, but don’t always feel or act like I do.
      Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

      • I definitely don’t always feel or act like I think it’s worth it. Especially in that moment when I said what I said. I wanted nothing more than to have a pity party for myself about how hard and unfair it can feel to follow Christ. But it was essential that I didn’t. This person needed to hear the truth even if it came from an imperfect “I don’t practice what I preach sometimes” person.

  4. No tattoos for me and I don’t plan on getting one either. What about some of those Chinese signs? I’ve never understood why people who are not Chinese get them.

    Great word about the bullseye. It does seem sometimes that everything is aimed right at you. And we all have periods where things are tough. But His promises are real. Thanks for the encouraging words!

    • Yeah–I wonder how many non-French speaking people get French tattoos?

      The bull’s-eye thing has been on my mind mostly because I have experienced more of that lately than normal. Much of what I write is aimed at myself far more than anyone else.
      Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

      • I’m right there with about writing on what is effecting you. Most of the time I write I’m preaching to myself. That’s the great thing about writing. You can learn so much from yourself.

  5. I don’t have a tattoo, but I was the only soccer mom for my daughter’s team that didn’t have one, so it made me wonder if after delivering babies, I had missed this mom rite of passage.

    no period of darkness lately, but there was a time when I was afraid to move, because I couldn’t see where Jesus was taking me, but he’s a light in the darkness.

    • Seems that a lot of women get tattoos on their feet. I try to keep my feet covered, especially in front of children.
      Glad you made it through the darkness.
      Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

  6. No tattoos for me. I can’t stand needles and I don’t think I would enjoy having something permanently etched on my skin. I change my mind way too often and I know after a few years, I wouldn’t want it anymore.

  7. There are tattoos in our house. And honestly we both have still more that appeal to us. But every since we stopped being 18, we haven’t been able to justify the expense of it, among other things. Lol.

  8. I have four tattoos currently and have plans to add more. My wife has plans for me to not, so we will see how that goes in the future. Nothing big or super exciting: couple of crosses, a fish and the names of my kids and my wife. One thing about them, they’re like Lay’s Potato Chips in that you it’s hard to stop after just one.

    I have thought about getting the Last Supper on my chest, but making it such that when I flex my pecks you can see Jesus actually break the bread. That or a life-sized tattoo of myself only as tall as I would actually like to be.

    The last dark time I went through was about 3 years ago when the church I was serving as youth minister and I didn’t have the same timetable for how long I should be there. Worst part was that it was right after Christmas with a 5 year old, 2 year old and 2 month old. Good times. God however has placed us in a church that has been instrumental in the healing process for us and where things are going very well.

  9. I do NOT have any tattoos. But, my husband does have 2 and is currently considering a third. I don’t think I could ever get one because can barely sign on to his choices, yet alone my own. After 3 c-sections, I’m pretty oblivoius to pain as well. So, it’s not the pain, its the commitment that worries me.

    Period of darkness…probably when my husband got out of the AF and didn’t have a job lined up. He went through 3 different odd end jobs that weren’t really well suited to his abilities or experience, but it was what he could get. It was just a hard time financially, not to mention we were going through a huge transition having just had our first child and entering into life outside of the military. We didn’t have any community to support us. But, boy, did I ever learn the power of prayer.

      • I have commitment issues too when it comes to tatoos. I have mine all planned out though – in case I commit. I would get a tree with root and branches of course, and the phrase winding through it, “everything beautiful in it’s own time”. The tree would be in all it’s seasons, some buds on the branches, some green leaves, some leaves falling, and some branches naked. Now you understand my commitment issues – it’s no little tat – and I’ve never had one before and don’t know my own pain tolerance.

        Sometimes life feels like an ocean that keeps knocking me down again and again – I can barely get my breath. The past couple of years have been like that for me and my family. And working outside the home puts me out in the world for the first time in a long time – it’s an interesting place. I understand your bullseye description. Gotta love a God that is big enough to take care of it all, and intimate enough to allow us to know him and be known by him.

  10. I have two tattoos with plans for a few more. I got the one on my ankle in honor of my cousin who died unexpectedly when we were both 22. The tattoos I have and the ones I plan all speak to something God has taught me, lessons I can hang on to. A lot of thought and planning occurs before I get it inked but I love the visible reminder!

  11. Yep, I have a flame on my left shoulder that symbolizes the tongues of fire from Pentecost. It reminds me of God’s anointing in my life and my dependence on Him.

    Oh, and the bonus feature of option number 3? If you stood on your head it would spell…

  12. Great post, Matt. I love your stuff because you start out with humor, venture out to the ridiculous and bring it back full circle with practical faith/life application.


  13. I always try to tell people in pain this — God is bigger, and He is always faithful.

    People tend to simply live in the now, but they neglect the ways God has provided now and how much more abundantly He will provide in the future. Getting lost in His loving grace is a great way to naturally ease life’s pains.

    • I like to think of it this way — He has brought me through everything so far and He hasn’t changed so I can be confident that he will bring me through again.
      Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

  14. i have one tattoo that reads ‘fierce grace’ on my waistline. it’s underlined by a scar where i had skin grafted to be sutured to a hole on my toe where a melanoma had been removed. i got it two birthdays ago.

    i. HATE. pain. prick my finger? only if you hold my hand. and give me a valium.

    but you don’t know what you don’t know…


    if i were to get another one, which at this point may just be a rub on, i’d like to get my dad’s initials. he passed away about 18 months ago and had cool handwriting. i didn’t tell my mom about my ink but i told my dad, who thought it was cool.

    ‘my ink’. who am i, jesse james? sheesh.

    if i were still a drunk, i think i’d wind up getting a sleeve.

    but only if they put me under first.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s