My tattoos – explained

I’ve been asked quite a bit about my tattoos; especially here recently. What do they mean? Where did I get them done? Why did I get them? Did they hurt? Do I want more? Please allow me to explain each of the ones I currently have and give you a glimpse into what I still have in mind for more tattoos that I want to get.

My very first tattoo took me several years to pick out. I knew I wanted a tattoo back when I was about 20 years old. I just didn’t know what I wanted exactly, or where I wanted it on my body. Tattoos are pretty much forever, so I knew I wanted something I wasn’t going to regret. That’s when I decided that I was going to get tattoos that not only pertained directly to my life as I lived it, but also had to do with scripture from the bible. My faith is very important to me and it’s a huge part of my life and who I am. Once I made that decision, the rest all fell into place.

ShueFaithFor my first tattoo I wanted something that would symbolize not only my faith, but also who I am. I had been working on several different designs of my last name (Shue) when I stumbled upon ambigrams. This seemed to fit wonderfully with what I wanted to accomplish. I got the tattoo on my upper right arm area. When other people look at it, they see my last name. But when I look down at it, I see “faith”. It’s just a constant reminder to me to always stay true to my faith in God and my faith in my family. Without my family, I’m not sure where I’d be today. They have been there for me during my darkest days, when I needed someone the most in my life. They have never failed me!

Like most people I know, after I got my first tattoo, I was already planning what I wanted to get for my next tattoo. They are rather addicting. Not only did I have a good idea for what I wanted next, I also knew I wanted it on my left arm. You know, just to balance things out a little bit.

Isaiah 40 31That’s when I decided to get Isaiah 40:31 tattooed on me. That verse kept coming up quite a bit at that point in my life and I knew that I wanted to make sure I never forgot it. Isaiah 40:31 says: “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles: they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Seems like some pretty straightforward scripture that lends itself well to a tattoo design. I decided to go with an eagle grasping a cross in his talons to represent this time in my life. To date, this tattoo is the one that has taken the longest to get. Around four hours worth of chair time after two sittings is what it took to finish this one.

In God We TrustFor my next tattoo I knew that I wanted something on my right arm, just below my Shue/Faith tattoo, since the eagle and cross were so large on my left arm. It took me a little while to find something that I wanted to get. But the moment I saw it, I knew that I just had to have something like it. The first appearance of “In God We Trust” on US currency was back in 1864 on a two cent piece. The shield and banner was what I wanted tattooed on me. I’m a proud American and I trust in God 100%! I took a picture of the two cent piece to my artist, Jeremy, and told him I would like a couple things omitted from the shield and in order to break up the solid field of black at the top, I would like to incorporate stars. This is how Jeremy interpreted the design; and I couldn’t be any happier with the outcome.

Mathew 6 13It wasn’t too long that I was already itching to get another tattoo. During that point in my life things were pretty rocky with my recent divorce and I wanted to get something that reminded me that I should always resist temptation. It seems some people in my life couldn’t resist their temptations and as such, cheated on me. Every time I thought about temptations, I thought about the scripture from Mathew 6:13. It says: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” It seemed rather fitting, so I took some artwork that I found to Jeremy and asked him if he thought he could pull it off. Of course he could, he is an award winning artist. Again, Jeremy nailed it! We put it on the inside of my right bicep. There were a couple spots that were pretty tender; but it was well worth it. This picture was right after I got the tattoo. It has lightened up a little and of course, the redness went away.

I went quite some time without getting any new ink. But the desire for more never ceased. I had ideas for several more tattoos; but good tattoos cost money and they take time. I never seemed to have both of those things at the same time though. Eventually I was able to save up enough money by doing photography jobs to get another tattoo. Actually, it was two tattoos at the same time. I had been reading my bible nightly and praying like I’ve never prayed before. One night while I was reading my bible, I was reading the book of Psalm. All of it.

Psalm 16 11That’s when the idea for my next tattoo came to me. Psalm 16:11 says: “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Back in the day sailors used to use stars for navigation. Now, I’m no sailor, but what I’m doing is using the Lord as my navigation. That’s when I thought about getting a couple of nautical stars; one on the back of each arm. I didn’t want the standard looking nautical stars though. So once again, I took my idea to Jeremy and he came through for me. We came up with the idea of making the nautical stars look weathered; much like my life had been. Weathered, beat up, cracked, but still there.

DoveIt wasn’t very long after the stars healed up that I was back in Jeremy’s chair getting my next tattoo. Things were getting pretty rocky in my life once again at that point. I wanted to get the third tattoo of my collection that would complete my Faith, Hope, and Love tattoos. Faith, obviously with my Shue/Faith tattoo. Hope, with my Isaiah 40:31 eagle and cross tattoo. And the Love tattoo was going to be that of a dove. I wanted the dove on my inner left bicep area. Here’s a little more reading on the background of my dove tattoo.

That’s it! Those are all the tattoos I have for now. I do have a couple more ideas that I would like to get soon though. Some of my friends already know about my ideas for my next couple of tattoos. I won’t get into detail because I think pictures work best for sharing something like this. But what I will say is that they, just like all of my other tattoos, represent my life and they get their roots from scripture. What scripture? Ecclesiastes 3 and Isaiah 22:22. They’re going to be good!


About John Shue

Just a normal guy in pursuit of happiness.
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3 Responses to My tattoos – explained

  1. Jess says:

    Currently they are just on your arms? You are practically a blank canvas!

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