Who hasn’t done something they regretted when they were younger? We all make stupid mistakes and bad decisions especially during those years where we are finally free to be on our own but have little to no idea who we really are.  For me, well, I got a tattoo, a very silly tattoo that I didn’t even really want and while I though I was being smart about picking an obscure place to ink my body, it never occurred to me that there would be a name for that locale that would make matters even worse (think – tramp stamp).   But recently, my view of this “mistake” has been significantly changed and I owe that shift to an inspiring memoir called “Love Warrior” written by Glennon Doyle Melton.

Going back in time to my sophomore year of college,  I didn’t think too much about the decision to get a tattoo and it was so spur of the moment that I had no idea why I was doing this or what I would even want permanently inked on my body for all time.  Over the last 15 years I have spent a good amount of time being embarrassed over the fact that I even had a tattoo but what has always bothered me even more was trying to explain to someone what it meant.   I avoided the discussion like the plague and shyly explained away the random body marking in a quiet voice while barely making eye contact with whoever was questioning me.  Now a days I don’t give it as much thought because frankly I don’t really see it (since it is on my back) and it is rarely noticed except at the beach.  This past summer my older son finally noticed my tattoo and asked me what happened and I was completely at a lost for words.  Since then I have considered taking the steps to have it removed but don’t like to consider the pain associated with that so I just keep hoping no one will ask me about it again.

Fast forward a few weeks ago when I (like thousands of other people) read Glennon Doyle Melton’s “Love Warrior” in only two sittings. A book so good, I simply could not put it down; a true, raw, funny, sad, heart wrenching memoir written by an amazing and inspiring woman that is now #1 on the NY times best seller list.  While reading her memoir, I highlighted so many sections that at one point it felt as if the entire book and every single sentence was something I would need to refer back to and remember day after day.   The book spoke to me on many levels but when the author begins to uncover the meaning of the word warrior, connects the dots to being a woman and creates her own definition of love warrior – well this is when I knew I was meant to be reading her words.

Here is what the author discovers –

“the original Hebrew word for woman, a word that is used twice to refer to the first woman, three times to refer to strong military forces, and sixteen times to refer to God, is this: Ezer.”  “The word Ezer has two roots: strong and benevolent. The best translation of Ezer is: Warrior.”
God created woman as a Warrior.”

The author goes on to talk about being a warrior and the significance of this path, especially for women.  In her book, she writes,

“I think about the tragedies the women in my life have faced. How every time a child gets sick or a man leaves or a parent dies or a community crumbles, the women are the ones who carry on, who do what must be done for their people in the midst of their own pain. While those around them fall away, the women hold the sick and nurse the weak, put food on the table, carry their families’ sadness and anger and love and hope. They keep showing up for their lives and their people with the odds stacked against them and the weight of the world on their shoulders. They never stop singing songs of truth, love, and redemption in the face of hopelessness. They are inexhaustible, ferocious, relentless cocreators with God, and they make beautiful worlds out of nothing. Have women been the Warriors all along?”

So back to that tattoo, the really dumb mistake I made in college that I have felt was a mistake not only for the marking but more so for the meaning – well it means warrior.  Yep, who knew.   On that random day all those years ago with no real desire for a tattoo I could not decide what to get and rather than choosing a standard butterfly or flower I decided to go deeper (as I always do) and had the Japanese symbol for warrior done.  Explaining this has always been tough – but here it is.  The name Kelly is a Gaelic baby name. In Gaelic the meaning to the name is: warrior.   While deep down I have always felt this was an appropriate name for me and known that I have a good amount of fight in me, as life presents more challenges and it is harder and harder to fight back sometimes it seems I have started to doubt this for myself.   Now, however, after reading “Love Warrior” there is a part of me that woke back up and remembered why I chose this in the first place and that maybe just maybe it was the right choice for me.

These last few years have been a blur of changes, transitions, highs and lows and I am still struggling to find my way through the maze of life.  My identity is constantly challenged and playing the roles of wife, mother, special needs advocate to my son, friend, daughter, sister and “on a break career woman” has caused me to second guess myself, doubt myself and question my strength or ability far more than I care to admit.  Lucky for me I found an inspiring woman who has not only survived some serious battles of her own but speaks to it with truth and authenticity and without embarrassment or fear. When I read her book I laughed and I cried but when I read her words as she discovered what being a warrior is truly about I was moved. Moved to remember who I am, why I am and what I want. I think or have to think that the whole reason an author would put herself out there in such a vulnerable way is because she has learned that the truth is freeing and that sharing our stories with each other is how we connect. Glennon Doyle Melton – if you are out there let me just say thank you for showing me that we all have that warrior within even if we don’t always see it for ourselves

PS. If you haven’t already “Love Warrior” run don’t walk to the store or download it tonight. You will not regret the wisdom and truth contained within and you will hopefully re-discover your own inner warrior as well.


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