A few years ago, I had the word rebirth tattooed a few inches below my left armpit. I had been writing that word out in cursive in so many places for so many years, that I had been long searching for a rebirth before I ever figured out that I really needed one. And even once I knew I needed one, it took a few months for me to figure out that I had been in the process of getting a rebirth for some time.
My whole life, I had been bothered, even scared, by the word repent. It was being screamed at me a few times a week by a sweaty, red-faced preacher who seemed to think that the whole world was going to Hell. Repentance, I thought, was just admitting that my whole existence was an abomination. And deep down, I never truly believed that. Why would God make us if he hated us? How am I supposed to believe all these people are going to Hell? It never clicked with me. I could never make sense of it.
As I got older, I let go of most of those things. Celestial ideas of Heaven and Hell, the rule book, the inherent truth of every word of scripture. I started to believe that Jesus’ words mattered and Paul’s were largely taken out of historical context and a lot of peace came with that. Rebirth number 1. After a summer in New York, I had major rebirth number 2. And I realized that repentance is just turning away from one thing so you can turn towards a better thing. It’s a rebirth. A reinvention. For me, a few life-altering decisions that led me to my future husband and a close-knit group of friends. And so I tattooed the word rebirth on my body, knowing that somewhere down the line I’d need another one.
And I need it now. So many things are shifting, some subtly, some in very loud, life-disrupting ways. And a rebirth, repentance, reinvention is coming. I just don’t know where it’s going to take us. And I’m just wondering when I’m going to start to feel like myself again.
Mostly, I’m just thankful to be on the cusp of 30, having learned that you can make up your own rules. There’s no time table, no “correct” roadmap for your journey, nothing to dictate what you have to do and who you have to be. Most of the time, we’re just putting those pressures onto ourselves. Once you accept that, the rebirth is possible.