I’m not a very open person.
Which is funny, because those who know me best know that sometimes I can be a little too open. I have to wholeheartedly trust you before I’ll disclose an OUNCE of information about my personal life. I have a lot of history. But who doesn’t? So many of things that I have gone through have just molded me into the heavily guarded person that I am today. I didn’t let people in easily before I had a second heart to worry about, and I for damn sure don’t now.
I’m working on that. And I’m working on being more open about the things that make me, me.
I’ll start by telling a story about the man who saved my life.
People often ask me about my tattoo. It’s just a simple, small, purple and blue shooting star placed on the top of my foot. I always get the “aww that’s a cute tattoo,” or “why would you get such a random tattoo?” questions.
When I was fourteen, I was a brat. I was mean to people, I was rude, I was hurting. I was just in a dark place after getting out of a “relationship” that I was too young to have been in in the first place. The ONLY person I ever confided any of this in, was this man that had been a relatively constant person in my life from age 11-12, and he was also my youth pastor.
His name was Art Lilley.
Art was the most grace-filled person I have ever met. His relationship with God was inspiring, not just to me, but to everyone he came in contact with.
When I was around sixteen, he was driving me home from our youth meeting one night. We were talking about a mission trip that I was planning to go on the following summer to a place called Camp Barnabas (that’s an entirely different, yet amazing story). Camp Barnabas was a camp solely for special needs campers and I wasn’t feeling confident enough in myself or my faith to feel prepared to go on the trip. I remember asking him, “How is it that you are so secure in your faith?”
He said, “I’m not.”
This threw me to a place of pure speechlessness, which doesn’t happen often. This man, who was the reason I had handed MY life over to Christ, was sitting here telling me that HE’S not secure in HIS faith?
He saw my confusion and continued, “Taylor-Leigh, I know that I’m going to heaven. And I know that when I get to those doors, Jesus is going to look at me and say ‘In a minute, I’m going to turn off every, single light in the world. And for every person that you have led to me, one star will light back up.’ And I want EVERY star to light up, not just a couple here and there.”
That conversation stuck with me forever. A few weeks later, Art deployed to Afghanistan. I signed up for my trip, and everything was set to go.
A month before I was to leave, I was on a bus full of children when I got the call that Art had been killed in action in Afghanistan.
That night, I was sitting on the porch swing reminiscing about the impact that this man had on my life. I remembered the night in the car, and the story that he told me. I remember looking up, and just collapsing into tears.
Every single star in the sky was shining more brightly than I had ever seen in my life.
One of those stars, was me.
And now I have the permanent reminder of this man who saved me in the form of a simple, small, purple and blue shooting star placed on the top of my foot.
So that’s the story of my cute, random little tattoo. It’s so simple, but reminds me of where I’ve been, how far I’ve come, to be humble, and to be grateful.