A Family Man’s Tattoo

This one reminds me to serve

Tattoos grab people’s attention because they are permanent. They hold people’s attention because they mean something.

When you get ink under your skin, people are interested. They want to know what it means. They know it must mean something. Why else would you do it?

It used to be a little more common to meet people who got tattoos because they were drunk, or because they wanted to go along with their friends. I think people also did it because they were feeling rebellious. But tattoos are all over the place now. It’s pretty hard to rebel with a tattoo.

Now when you see a tattoo, you know it really means something to the person who got it. If you think about it, tattoos are interesting because they are permanent. You see someone with a tattoo, and you know they can’t wash it off or change it next week. They live with it, so you know they take it seriously. You know there’s a story there.

I think this is also why it’s becoming more common for people to get tattoos in areas that are visible. It’s possible to hide tattoos, but people don’t always go that route. And when someone makes their tattoo visible, then it can be a great conversation piece. That’s what I’ve experienced with the tattoos on my arms.

My tattoos are statements of purpose. They say, “This is who I am.” They say, “This is what I believe.” They say, “This is how I live.” My tattoos have deep meaning and significance to me, and I love it when people ask me about them. I love talking about them.

I think it’s increasingly common to see young people using tattoos the same way I do. They use tattoos to express their identity, or as a way of telling their story, or as a way of making a statement. If you see a tattoo, you know you are seeing a significant expression of that person’s life story. Whether it’s a word picture, or actual words, it has meaning.

A Way to Remember

I don’t know how many people use tattoos as a reminder, but I suspect it’s pretty common. When you know there’s a story there, then you know there are strong feelings about it.

The tattoo on my left forearm is really important to me. It’s important for every reason I’ve given here. It’s a permanent statement of my purpose and my identity. It’s a conversation starter about what I believe and how I want to live my life. “No Man Shall Live For Himself” has deep meaning and significance for me.

And I really like the way it reminds me that this is how I want to live my life.

You see, I’m not always able to live for others. Like anybody, I can be selfish. Sometimes I get frustrated. And sometimes, you know, I just don’t want to live for others. It can be difficult.

When I get into my selfishness, I have a reminder on my forearm that says, “You need to serve. It can be hard, and sometimes you don’t want to do it, but it’s still the right thing to do.”

Serving My Family

It’s an especially good reminder when it comes to serving my family. It can be harder to serve our own families than it is to serve other people.

You’ll see a lot of people serving the least among us, yet not serving their own wives, husbands, or children. Mostly it’s because they’re with their families every day. It really can be as simple as that.

There might be other reasons too, some more subtle, some more complex. There could be some frustration there, or some wounds, or other things built up, like anger or animosity. For whatever reason, sometimes it’s just harder to serve the people you live with and love the most.

I get that. It happens to me from time to time. But I have my tattoo to remind me. I see it and it brings things into focus. It balances me. It reminds me that living for other people is not just something I want to do. It’s a lifestyle I intend to live. It’s my purpose. It’s my reason for being. And I am committed to it.

The most important people that need to see that are my wife and children. That’s why I serve them. And I’m glad to be reminded of it, every day.

I am the author of To Stir a Movement: Life, Justice, and Major League Baseball (2013), and my second book is in the works. Visit my Huffington Post page here. I blog here. Follow me on Instagram & Twitter: @JeremyAffeldt.

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