Katy Perry, Jesus, and loving yourself

Katy Perry has a Jesus tattoo on her wrist.


Now, I’m not trying to judge her, I can get down to some California Girls, but I’d say Katy has strayed a bit from her Christian upbringing, or at least the way she used to define it.

And yet, she doesn’t hide the tattoo. She’s proud of it, actually. She said in an interview, “I knew I wanted this on me because no matter how much changes around me or how much I change, there’s not really an eraser for this… I think I’m not exactly what I was born into, but I still have my roots. I appreciate it and respect it to the fullest.”

I have no plans of rising to international pop-stardom anytime soon, but I totally resonate with her statement. Like Katy Perry, I’ve stopped believing some of the things I used to believe. My tendency has been to look back on who I used to be with chagrin, often calling up scenes from my past while thinking, “If only I’d known then what I know now.”

I used to be a long-haired, minivan-carpooling homeschooler.

Joshua Harris books used to guide my dating philosophy.

I used to be a side-of-the-road-sign-waver for republican causes and candidates.

Posting cheesy Christian lyrics as Facebook statuses used to be my favorite.

I used to be a complimentarian, a Calvinist and a John Piper groupie.

Today I’m an online-dating site user, a feminist, a political moderate, and a Christian progressive.

But who I am today can never change who I used to be.

The big epiphanies I’ve had over the past few years, the times I have said, “Oh my gosh, that way I used to think was SO messed up,” sometimes make me want to interpose my new feelings onto my old self. I want to believe that as a complimentarian I felt oppressed. I want to believe that as a conservative I hated everyone who was different from me.

But when I look back on college, I don’t remember feeling oppressed or hateful, though in retrospect I know some of those feelings were hidden beneath the surface. Mostly though, I remember feeling happy. If I could go back to college now, of course I would do things differently, because I’m a different person. But I love 18-year-old Sammi. She could be very judgmental, she was naive and she was ignorant about a lot of the things she took loud positions on. But she was also beautiful, outgoing, willing to be vulnerable and had an incredibly stupid but also incredibly still hilarious sense of humor. She was excited about her new-found faith and wanted to chase as hard as she could after it–whatever that meant. Sometimes she did “Christian” things in order to be accepted and popular, but many times she did those things because she truly wanted to obey God.

I’d love to go back in time to tell myself through the years which guys not to waste my time on, which friendships to invest in, which ugly handbags to stop carrying, and to, for goodness’ sake, GET OFF OF MYSPACE AND GO READ A BOOK OR SOMETHING.

But who I am today can never change who I used to be. There are pieces of my old self that I have set down that I might one day pick up again, and pieces I have picked up that I may later set down. I can only make decisions about how I live my life today based on the truth I know today.

In my past I have been insecure and confused. I have been self-righteous and closed-minded. I have trusted people who let me down and I have been hurt. That’s all true. But there is more to the story. There always is, isn’t there? In my past I have also been loved. I have felt safe and sure and protected and a part of something. I’ve had bad experiences–terrible and devastating, even. But even in my darkest seasons there was also light shining. I want to remember both.

Having peace with the old me helps me to have grace with myself today and also with the people around me. I don’t want to be an enabler and I do want to be a truth-teller, but I want to go through life remembering that we are all just doing the best we can.

Let’s take lessons from the bad, have gratitude for the good and have peace with the fact that all of it is part of us.

Then let’s all get matching Jesus tattoos.


Photo by (Flickr CC): NRK P3