Going home for Thanksgiving offered me the invaluable opportunity to interview a new addition to my wonderful family, Julia Rose Burklin. She just recently married my cousin and I had the privilege to hear her story. “I got my first tattoo on my eighteenth birthday, it’s the one on my back. It was in honor of my mom who passed away when I was seventeen. I’ve always loved tattoos, ever since I was little. We went to California and I just fell in love. I just love the art and I always want to know why a person has what they have. I don’t know, I just like hearing it.
“Anyway, I was watching the Olympics and I saw this professional sand volleyball player and I remember her mom died and she was spreading the ashes on the court. I remember seeing wings on her back and I thought it was really cool. The wings embodied and represented her mom and what her mom meant to her because she was really close with her mom. I was really young, I don’t remember when that happened but I just remember thinking, ‘Wow, if I got a tattoo it will definitely be for a family member.’ Little did I know that years later my mom would suddenly pass away. And when she did, I thought back to that and immediately I knew what I wanted to get. But I wanted it to be more sentimental, so I have her initials down the middle, ‘JRS,’ and the bottom turns into a rosebud. On my mom’s side of the family, my grandma is a twin. She and her twin sister decided that all the girls on my mom’s side would have Rose as their middle name. So that’s why all my cousins, my mom, my mom’s cousins, and my aunts have Rose as their middle name. And I decided to have it as a bud because I’m not done, I’m still growing. As long as I’m alive I’m still growing.
“It’s interesting because I was at the beach one day after I got it done and someone asked why I had my initials on my shoulder. It registered in my mind that my mom’s initials are my maiden initials. So my marriage almost adds more meaning. It’s another reminder of where I come from. That was just kind of interesting.
“I guess my tattoo really means a lot to me because it’s my first and I got to design it. I took an art class my senior year. My mom died the August right before my senior year and obviously it was traumatic, her death was out of the blue completely. I can’t really remember my senior year other than I made a lot of really poor decisions. I was not a believer, Jesus was not a part of my life. It was definitely a God thing that I took this class, Intro to Art. For an hour I would sit and do some kind of art project. That’s where I realized I could paint. My teacher helped me design my tattoo. It adds to the significance for me, I put a lot of thought into this and designed it. I mean, the artist at the parlor tweaked it to make it his, but it’s basically what I had written up. It’s a way for me to share my story and my journey as a believer.
“And I don’t know how it all works, if when people die they become angels, but I like to think of it like that, like they’re looking out for you. But now I know there’s God, an all-powerful being who is looking out for me no matter what. Who isn’t a spirit of some dead person but is actually God, Himself.
“And that is how I got this cross. I think I got it January 21, 2014. It was kind of an impulsive decision. I was at this Bible school in Colorado and went home for winter break and I did not make very good decisions. I just needed a tangible reminder of who I belonged to and where my worth is actually found. That I don’t need other things to fill that, you know? And that His grace is sufficient, it is enough. A reminder to let things go.
“Something I’ve always stressed out about was getting married,” Julia paused and laughed. “Obviously I married your cousin so that all worked out! But I have really wanted to be married ever since I could remember. I’ve always wanted my own family, and some of that could be because I’m adopted. And then my family was not the most,” she trailed off. “I mean everybody’s family is somewhat dysfunctional, but my dad and I didn’t have the best relationship growing up and my mom was that buffer between us. But then she died so I looked for support or love in guys.
“I was originally going to get this cross on my finger, on the inside of my ring finger, but I was working in a kitchen at the time and that didn’t make any sense for me. I was always washing my hands so it wouldn’t have healed. The artist told me that the skin under my wrist would heal better. I said it didn’t really matter where it was, I just wanted to see it. It was just a reminder that God knows me, He loves me, and no matter what I’ve done or what’s been done to me, I am loved. Imagining a functioning family and imagining a man who would love me with all my brokenness, hurt, and pain was almost impossible. So I just wanted this tattoo as a reminder that no matter what, ultimately God is in control and He gives pain a purpose. He loves me and cares for me, He created me. I am His workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which He has prepared in advance for me to do. And that’s something that I’ve hung on to. Little did I know that after I got this, the Lord would bring Yannick into my life. And Yannick would love me for who I am.
“It’s a reminder of how good God is. He knows you, He created you. Despite what you may think you need or what you think you want, He knows. I always thought I was going to be with a crazy, loud person because those were the guys I always liked. You laugh because you know Yannick. God obviously was like, ‘No, that’s not going to work.’ So the Lord blessed me with Yannick, who is quiet and creative, soft spoken and patient.
“So both of my tattoos are reminders that we don’t know what’s going to happen and we don’t have control, but just to trust the Lord because He does know, and it’s ok not to know as long as you know the one who does know. That’s something I have to be reminded of all the time, I should probably just get a tattoo on my forehead that says that.”
Thanks to Julia Burklin for sharing her story.