Eight years ago, I swore I would never get another tattoo but recently, I got an arrow tattoo. The arrow tattoo has a variety of meanings, but here's my story and what it means to me.


The arrow tattoo points to identity

Many of you know I'm a cancer survivor. Over the years as I've worked through this pain, I've not only dug up trauma from cancer but other circumstances in my life. As emotional triggers made me aware that I needed deep healing in my heart, I began to walk out this journey.

It led me to a place where I evaluated my identity. If I'm more than a cancer survivor - who am I? This was a question without easy answers, but it had a process that helped me tap into my faith and realize I'm more than a cancer survivor - ultimately, I'm a Christ follower.

I'd once tattooed a "blue star" on my body to forever remind me of my cancer fight, and I wanted another tattoo to symbolize my true identity - daughter of God.


The arrow tattoo means freedom

If I had to describe my deep healing journey, it would be like a butterfly looking back at the phases it went from fuzzy caterpillar to winged creature. The process was painful at times, but in the end, I realized I am healed physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I now live free of lies, pains and disappointments that used to bind me. It's not that I don't have stressful moments or bad days, but they don't wreck me like they used to. By God's grace, I can stand up again if I'm struck down no matter what may come my way.

Simply put, I've been set free. It's a deep freedom that comes from my heart.

The arrow tattoo reminds me that I'm a free woman. "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery - Galatians 5:1."


The arrow tattoo means I can fight back

Psalm 11 is one of those verses that came into my life and has become a "life verse." It's short, yet powerful. And it's helped me understand why I've faced pain in life, yet God's justice and heart for me.

The wicked's attack

In Psalm 11:2-3, it explains why bad things happen to good people - and especially those who are young.

For look, the wicked bend their bows;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows
at the upright in heart.
When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”

As I read this verse, my pain made sense. My faith tells me an invisible enemy shoots arrows at me - arrows like cancer and my parent's divorce, abuse and suffering. It's not people behind my pain, but the enemy causing havoc any way he can.

My strong defense

At the end of the verse, God reminds us why we must stay strong and hold firm against the enemy.

For the Lord is righteous,
he loves justice;
the upright will see his face. (v. 7)

As I clung onto this belief, I felt an inner strength and courage. Arrows may be shot at me, but I'm not powerless. I can stand firm and shoot my own "arrows" at the enemy. They're arrows of forgiveness, wisdom, grace and faith.

The arrow tattoo reminds me I can have a voice and not back down.

My arrow tattoo from Sparrow Tattoo Company

Something that's extra special to me is that I got the tattoo at at Sparrow Tattoo Company in Mansfield, TX - just outside of Dallas. I traveled there for work with Fight Colorectal Cancer to be part of a campaign on biomarkers, and then a reality show taping of Ink Masters.

I'd connected with Clint, the owner of the shop before he passed away, and was sad when he passed away. I'll forever fight in honor and in memory of my fellow colorectal cancer fighters, as this is a part of my journey of healing I'll never outrun or forget.


Danielle blogs about cancer survivorship, communications and faith. Subscribe to her weekly devotional in the Monday Morning Survival Guide so you don't miss anything she has to say!