I don't have any kind of particular desire to get a tattoo, but if I did, there are two words I would get tattooed somewhere on my body.

One: Alleluia.

Two: Coraggio.

I have a sweatshirt that says "Hallelujah" across it in really pretty cursive script, and it's absolutely one of my favorite things. Alleluia is one of my favorite words in any language. If there's one word I would want to describe my life, this is it. I want this word to be my response to God, my response to the world: one big, huge bite out of life. A posture of seamless rejoicing. I want to open my heart and face and arms to the sky and twirl in circles both literally and metaphorically and live with my whole life in a sense of Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Coraggio. The Italian word for courage, and if you've been around here for any length of time, you know that I'm super duper about courage here.

I've written over and over again about how I'm brave, and how I'm learning that about myself. But I guess I'm STILL learning it, over and over again, because every time I get a new realization of this fact, I am surprised.

And you wouldn't think I would be. I write about bravery quite a lot. But that doesn't mean it's sunk into the marrow of my bones, the center of my sternum.

(I see my sternum as the center of my body, even though it's super not where my center of gravity is. I digress.)

Coraggio. What Dr. Ankrum, who would later become my voice teacher (though I didn't know it), said to me when I didn't advance in a competition. She hugged me as I shook with sobs -- I thought I had gotten better, truly! And this was like a slap in the face. But she hugged me tight and rubbed my back and spoke to me. "Coraggio. Coraggio," she soothed. You've got a lot of it."

That's stuck with me for years (obviously). That I have a lot of courage.

Just in my natural state of being.

Recently I was talking to my counselor about a conversation that hadn't necessarily gone the way I wish it had, and she commended me: "I admire your courage to ask for what you want."

Huh?

Me, courageous?

I mean, I guess.

Some of you are probably laughing at me (in a nice way), and I don't blame you! How many dang times have I written that I'm brave?

We have to learn it over and over again. We have to constantly allow it to dawn on us. Just like sunrises and mercies are new every morning, well, so is the realization of Who We Are. I don't know if we ever get there, if it ever becomes fully integrated into our psyche. But, I mean, we get a little closer. We inch closer to full embodiment of who we are, and then we get to Heaven, and everything becomes as right as we always longed for it to be.

You know, though, it's always a delight to discover that you really are what you've always wanted to be.

You really are what you've wished you were but weren't sure. Whether it's loved or brave or free. In Jesus, we are all these things and more.

If I ever wanted two words to define me, they are Courage and Alleluia.

And guess what? Those are my words. I believe they've been graven on my heart for a reason. Maybe it's because God wanted me to know that this, right here, this is my life now. Not later, not in my dreams. Now.

May this be my outcry, the beat of my heart. May all my life thrum with the steady bass of alleluia, and may I know that wherever I am, whatever I do, I'm a warrior, son.

May they be tattooed on my brain and on my heart.

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