Someone very dear to me recently updated her Facebook profile picture, baring her left shoulder to reveal her Medusa tattoo. So far her tattoos have been reminiscent of home: the lilac tree, deer, quail. Lovely works of art representative of important parts of her life. Representing not only treasured things, but also her choice of expression.
Then Medusa. I had to look up its meaning in today’s culture, and found its new symbolism. One website stated, “The Medusa tattoo is not regarded as offensive as it has now been adopted as an emblem of power for sexual assault survivors. Medusa is recognized as a victim rather than a villain, which gives the inkings of her a poignant meaning (the-sun.com). Another stated, “The meaning behind the Medusa tattoo links to the story behind this monstrous creature that has many protective instincts. Many people get a tattoo of Medusa tatted on their bodies to earn a sense of protectiveness from all the negativity surrounding them, especially to keep them away from all the haters” (wildtattooart.com).
These explanations helped me more to understand the choice, especially since our loved one works professionally against domestic violence and sexual abuse. Looking at the design of her tattoo brought other thoughts to mind as well…
Snakes covering the head, or mind, symbolically speak of another reality… that age-old war between the servant of evil bent to rule us and conquer our minds from the truth of God’s love, His gift of redemptive freedom, and the rebirth of our souls to eternal life. Might the opaque eyes of Medusa been blinded, perhaps from the horrors, but as well from the truth of the One Who would set her free? And the long nose – that in the Hebrew description of the character of God means slow to anger, long-suffering, patience – may it in some way symbolically speak to the hope that resides deep within, though in the Medusa seems grotesquely lost? The hope that somewhere, somehow our long-suffering has not been in vain?
It goes to show that the meaning of things is important to understanding the why one stands beneath a certain banner. Under-standing… it goes a long ways towards knowing someone, their reasons why. And like that long nose… patience, long-suffering, slow-to-anger… those long nose traits I would like to adopt, have “written on my heart” by God. Traits that identify me as standing under His banner… with eyes no longer blinded, but wide open, healed from the pain, washed new in the truth that I am a beloved child of God. Would that all who hold within themselves the deep agony of abuse, or trauma of any kind, come to know and accept the redemption of the Living God Who longs to heal us of our pain… to help us under-stand we are indeed truly, gloriously, freely, no matter what, beloved!
Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV) 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.