Post Author: Stephanie Sorge Wing
I’ve spent 39 years on this earth without any tattoos. I’m not anti-tattoo, but I couldn’t think of anything that I would, without any doubt, want forever engraved on my skin. For some reason, as I approached my most recent birthday, I suddenly had a desire to celebrate it with permanent ink. In small Hebrew lettering on my upper arm, close to my heart, I got my two sons’ names, which both came from Hebrew Scripture and hold great meaning. Less than a month later, I was already planning my second tattoo.
This second tattoo was inspired by the gift of a week at CREDO, a program in some denominations for pastors that looks deeply at overall health and wellbeing in five areas: vocational, spiritual, financial, physical, and emotional. From the start, one word kept coming to the fore: Enough. I journeyed with that word for the week in the company of wonderful colleagues, and knew what my next tattoo had to be.
For those familiar with the Enneagram, I am a very solid One – often called The Perfectionist, or as I prefer, The Reformer. Ones are always striving for improvement. We want to make the world a better place. We want to improve what is in our environment. But the strongest focus of that drive for improvement is internal. I’ve always known that I hold others to high standards, but none nearly as high as the expectations that I have for myself. It’s pretty exhausting. Ones are always our own worst critics.
As a One, the word “Enough” was the word on which I needed to meditate. What would it look like for what I have done to be enough? For me to be enough? When do I know that enough is enough?
In some ways, “enough” and “grace” could be used interchangeably. To be honest, the word “grace” might have made for a more graceful tattoo. Ryan O’Neal, the artist behind “Sleeping at Last,” has created a whole body of music that is enneagram focused. I sometimes just put “One” on repeat, listening to the refrain “grace requires nothing of me.” Grace is enough. But for me, “enough” conveys a little more, too.
The word has become a centering word for me, something on which I can meditate. I am enough. What I’ve done is enough. Enough is enough: that is setting boundaries, which is usually hard and holy work. God’s grace is enough. Also – you are enough. I hope that reminder can make me a little more gracious with those I love, especially, and with others, too. But I also see my tattoo as an opportunity. Others might see it or ask about it, and hear the message directly from me: you are enough. It’s an affirmation that we all need to hear every now and then – not just Ones!
As we begin a new year, there are plenty of resolutions to go around. Some people have moved away from making resolutions and moved towards setting intentions. Intentions invite us into deeper mindfulness about our activities and orientations towards the world and others. In the church, I see more congregations incorporating a “Star Words” practice into the epiphany celebration. Epiphany begins each year on January 6, and commemorates the visit of the Magi to baby Jesus. The season of Epiphany is all about God’s self-revelation to us in Jesus Christ.
Star Words are just that – words written on stars, alluding to the star that guided the Magi to Jesus. A star is drawn randomly, and an invitation given to use the word on the star as a point of reflection for the year ahead, asking how God is revealing God’s self to you through that word. Presbyterian Pastor Marci Glass has written beautifully about her experiences with this practice on her blog.
We don’t always get a word that makes our hearts sing, but as my 5 year old says, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.” In some ways, meditating on the words that are more challenging or dissonant can be even more revealing than words that we like, or words that make sense. Sometimes the word we most need to hear is that which we least want to hear.
Enough? How can a One ever accept anything as enough – without room for improvement? Especially ourselves? It’s a word I need to hear, repeat, on which I should meditate, and remind myself daily of all the layers of Enough. Obviously, I had no choice but to get it permanently marked on my body, right? You might not go the same route, but I think setting a word for intentional focus can be a helpful practice for us all. What do you most need to hear to soothe your soul? Or challenge yourself to growth? Is there a word that keeps coming to the fore in the moments when you are most fully and authentically yourself? In this new year, may this be an invitation to find and meditate on a word or phrase. Tattoo optional.
Stephanie (she/her) is celebrating a decade of ordained ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She is Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where she lives with her family, tries to juggle all the things, and finds that it is never enough.
Image by: Stephanie Sorge Wing
Used with permission