“Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo.” (John Sinclair) – as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.
I really like that little saying because it is such an appropriate way to think about the failures and setbacks in our lives. The analogy holds up to a good deal of thought, too. Usually the event that causes a bruise involves something that causes pain first – a bump or a fall or running into something. It hurts at that instance and then your body may turn the site of the bump it into a bruise. The bruise still hurts, if you poke at it; but over time it heals and goes away. Of course, if the incident was traumatic enough to have broken or cut the skin, you may also end up with a scar instead of just a bruise. Scars are more like tattoos: they stay with you for a long time, but they, too, fade away over time. Some failures in life may leave scars, too.
Remember when you were little and fell off your bike or ran into the door while trying to run away playing tag. It hurt; but, your mom kissed it and told you it was just a boo-boo and that you’d be OK – you’d live. Life’s failure are much the same, only mom isn’t there anymore. If you’re lucky you have a life partner who can kiss you and tell you that it’s just a boo-boo and that you’ll live. That failure is just a bruise (primarily to your ego) it’s not a tattoo. It may take a while for the bruise to heal and for you to forget about it, but it will heal eventually and you will forget and move on with life.
There are things that can tattoo you for life and I suppose that they might be called failures; although most of them are called crimes. Having a criminal record, especially for the more heinous crimes definitely act like tattoos on those who commitment. The record follows them around and some crimes involving sex or children or both result in those tattoos being registered in databases that all in the public can see. The exceptions usually involve juvenile offenders whose youthful criminal records are expunged when they turn 21. It’s sort of like having that tattoo removed through laser surgery.
Other things that we experience may causes bruises in our lives. The loss of a loved one, rejection by someone that we hoped would be a loved one, loss of a job, divorce and more can all cause bruises. All of those bruises heal over time, though some require quite a bit longer than others.
There is a corollary saying that also rings true – “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” You may not think that the healing of that latest life bruise will make you stronger; but, you will learn something from it, you will know better the next time and you may be able to avoid getting bruised again by the same thing or person. If you develop the ability to look at life’s failures and setbacks as temporary bruises, it will make life much less stressful or depressing when you have those failures.
If you don’t have a loved one to turn to for a kiss and the reassurance that everything will be OK – that you’ll live; turn to the One who is always there for every boo-boo in life, the One who will never judge you or abandon you; the One to whom you can and will turn to even in the final moment of your life – embrace God and let Him kiss your boo-boo and make it better. In fact, even if your mom is still there, or you do have a loved one that you share your life with; taking your boo-boos and bruises to God in prayer will speed the healing. As you get older you may get a bit cynical about the medicinal impact of mom’s kisses, but you should never lose faith in the healing power of God.
If you must get a tattoo, get a small cross tattooed somewhere where you can look at it when yo need to. Then, in those times when something has just happened that you know is going to leave a bruise or maybe even a scar; you can look at that tattoo and say out loud, “this is the only thing that is permanent in my life.” That will start the healing process. If you really don’t want a tattoo, get one of those bracelets that have WWJD engraved or printed on them and wear that; because what Jesus would do is kiss your boo-boo and make it better.
It’s just a boo-boo: you’ll live and you’ll be stronger for it. Have a great day.