By Celica Cook, SBM Student Life Editor
Claire Wiley, a junior Christian ministries major has some unique stories behind her tattoos. While some people have tattoos representing other people, places, or event-specific dates, Wiley has a tattoo that is representative of a single, simple, yet important moment in her life—the moment where she felt the Lord’s peace when she needed it most. Now, her tattoo serves as a daily reminder that the Lord is with her.
What tattoos do you have?
I have three tattoos technically, all on my hands. One is a leaf on the top of my right hand. The other two are three chevron arrows on the inside of each of my middle fingers.
What do your tattoos mean?
My first tattoo, the leaf, is actually based on a moment I had on this campus my first year. I was walking back to Witmer. Autumn had just begun, and leaves were starting to fall. I was going through a lot at this time. There were some hard things going on with my family and also just my own adjustment to college life as a new first-year was hard. This specific day I was just feeling really alone and in a bad headspace. Basically, as I was walking up the sidewalk to Witmer a leaf just fell right into my hands while I was walking. It was startling, but for some reason, immediately comforting. I didn’t really know why, but in that moment I just felt the Lord’s presence so strongly.
This past year, I spent time studying the book of Revelation at a missions conference and in the last book of Revelation, John is describing the Tree of Life in heaven and he says “the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations”. I realized that the little leaf that fell in my hand was just a glimpse of God, and one day I will be in His full presence—in the presence of the tree of life. So the leaf on my hand serves as a reminder that though for now we only see glimpses of God, one day we will see Him fully. And that for the here and now, I can be a part of bringing those leaves of healing to all nations.
The arrows on my middle fingers build off that concept. The arrows on my right hand point outwards, towards the world, and the arrows on my left hand point inwards, towards myself. The idea is that any tattoos I get on my right hand and arm are representative of things I want to give to others, messages I want to send and love I want to give. Any tattoos on my left hand/arm are representative of things I want to be quick to receive, to remind myself, messages that I need to be willing to receive. I’m also left-handed so that hand feels more like mine, whereas my right hand is the one I shake with, more representative of others. So I got the arrows to represent the whole give and take of life, that in order to give we must be willing to receive. And that in giving we receive, it’s all kind of full circle.
Why did you decide to get a tattoo?
I’ve always liked the look of little, minimal tattoos—especially on hands and forearms. They serve not only as a reminder for myself but also as a conversation starter with others.
What is your advice for someone thinking of getting their first tattoo?
I’ve always said that if you think of an idea for a tattoo you may want, wait a year, and if you still want it a year later, go for it! Also, there will be the “freak-out period” a couple days after where you slightly regret everything but soon enough it becomes normal to see on your skin—like a scar or a freckle, and it becomes a part of you. For anyone who is scared about the commitment of it, I would just say go for it, this life is short, and really, these bodies are temporary.