we are pierced women {guest post Osheta Moore}

Our paths crossed in an online group of faith writers, and I am continuously struck by the boldness and vulnerability Osheta brings to the page, particularly when she's writing about race, faith, and family. She is a woman who loves Jesus deeply, and her blog, Shalom in the City, is one to watch--a breath of hope in a world of cynicism.

This month on my blog, I’ve been writing about finding my tribe. I’ve never thought about a community of like-minded women as a tribe before, but there’s something fitting about this word that takes its roots in the primitive, organic, and ancient. To be a tribe means to push pass the excess to the essential of who we are and what we stand for.

So my thirty-one days have been on “finding my tribe”, my community who pushes pass the excess to the essentials of Jesus, his life, ministry, and death. Every time I wrote the word, “tribe”, certain images and sounds filled my mind.

I heard vibrant, welcoming, rhythmic beating of drums. I felt the heat from a gathering fire as women dance with abandon, laugh from their bellies, and wet the shoulders of their fellow tribeswomen with cleansing tears. At the word, “tribe”, I pictured sable beauties with shorn hair and fascinating markings on their strong bodies. I see women with interesting piercings, naked and unashamed with their tribeswomen.

And that’s the image that drove my series—a tribe of women so committed to Jesus that we’re willing to be inconvenienced, uncomfortable, and forever changed. Like Jesus, who for love was pierced to stand in solidarity with us, I want to be a woman who loves the women in my life well enough that I am willing to be pierced for them.

Last Friday, for her seventh birthday, after a month of pleading and promising that she was ready, I took my daughter to get her ears pierced. Then, much to her delight, I would get my nose pierced.

But my bold and brazen daughter, who can put her brothers in their place with a well-executed eye roll, stood outside the shop and said, “Mama? I don’t think I want to do this anymore.”

After a few hugs and promises that I was with her, and even I was a little afraid, she straightened her spine, shyly smiled, and said, “Let's do this.”

That’s my brave girl! I remember holding her hand as our sexy-chic body art practitioner, who noticed her telltale shaky breaths and nervous fidgeting, knelt down and said, “Girl, you’ve got this” to my little woman-child. “When I’m done with you, it’s going to be so cute, you won’t believe it.”

He winked up at me, and I wondered, ‘How does he get his eyeliner to do that?’

Sitting in his chair as he prepped to pierce, my daughter and I held each other. I could feel her heart beating, yet she smiled and played with my hoop earrings.

“Okay, girls” Sexy-Chic began, “I’m going to count to three. When I get to three, breath in, and when I tell you to… breath out.” He positioned the pink tourmaline stud on my baby’s right ear and gave me another wink over her head.

“1…2…3…” he said confidently, and we breathed in together. “ Now exhale,” and as we breathed out in unison, the stud pierced my daughter, marking that moment with both beauty and pain.

We did the same for her left side, sharing breaths and twitches that reminded of me the hours after her birth when she slept on my chest, twitching and breathing with an exhausted me.

Then we did my piercing, and when she saw tears flowing down my cheek, Trinity handed me a tissue while Sexy-Chic cleaned me up promising, “She’s alright, boo. But isn’t your mama’s nose so cute?!”

Today she remembers our piercing date as fun mommy/daughter activity. And it was, but one day when she’s older, maybe on her thirteenth birthday or when she gets her period, I’m going to sit her down and show her this outing in a different light. I’m going give her a pair of hoop earrings—her first pair and teach her about being a Pierced Woman.

Maybe this first pair will be large beaded silver and gold hoops like the ones she’s eyeing in my jewelry drawer now, or maybe they’ll be simple white gold that goes with everything. They’ll probably be made my refugee artisans as this Tribe, this Jesus Tribe, cares about women globally.

They’ll definitely be chosen with love and care because this lesson is one I want her to hold onto.

I’ll sit across from her, who somehow has become more woman than child, and ask her if she remembers when we got pierced together. And then I’ll tell her,

“Trinity, these hoops are for you. Every time you wear them, I want you to think of Jesus who was pierced for us out of his great love for all people. His love is as never-ending as this hoop is round. When you go to wear them, remember, just as He was pierced for us, so we must be pierced for him and press into the hard of being a Jesus follower, baby.

"When you go to match these hoops with your outfit, remember that this Jesus Tribe is diverse and beautiful and quirky and fun, so take chances. Wear them against an odd color or different texture. Celebrate the different. Remember how Jesus was pierced to bring unity among diversity. This is what we pierced women do, baby: we love the diversity and defend the unity.

"When you put these on, remember how we held each other while you were oh so afraid of the pain of the piercings, and ask Jesus to help you hold your friends when they are afraid. This is what we pierced women do: we hold the terrified in our strong, capable arms since we know what it’s like to be afraid.

"Trinity, I give you these hoops and I hope you remember that I, too, was pierced with you. This is also what we do—we are pierced women who love the pierced King, and we stand with one another through celebration and pain. Just as we both celebrated your seventh birthday and shared in the pain of our piercings, celebrate with your friends and share in their pain. Listen to their keening cries that pierce your eardrums when her heart breaks. Hold her hand and let nails leave marks on yours as she bears the weight of sorrow. And somehow find a way to share in her pain. This is what is means to be a pierced woman.

"And when the usurper of relationships comes to cause you to doubt if your tribeswomen have your back, remember the times they were pierced for you. Go back to your ugly cries on their shoulders and the late night with Ben and Jerry’s. Place your fingers in those holes in your soul left by your tribe’s love, and like doubting Thomas, remember that You. Are. Known.”

And someday when she’s moved away and maybe has a daughter of her own, I hope she comes across those hoops while rummaging through her jewelry box. I hope smiles as she remembers Sexy-Chic and his amazing eyeliner. I pray she remembers how her birthstone just happened to be her favorite color—pink. I pray she remembers being held in my arms, trembling and sharing anxious breaths. Then maybe, she’ll puts those hoops on and ask Jesus, “Lord, help me be a pierced woman today.”

Hi, my name is Osheta. I’m an Assembly-of-God-Methodist-Southern-Baptist-a-teryn turned Anabaptist. I love Jesus who is THE MOST scandalously loving person to walk the face of the earth. I love to dance and you can find me doing the Robot with my husband and three kids in our tiny apartment in Boston. Someday...somehow...somewhere I will be in a flash mob. All the better if we dance to Michael Jackson's "Thriller"! When I'm not dancing, I'm planting a church with my husband, writing on my blog, Shalom in the City, or watching "Pride and Prejudice" for the eleventy billionth time

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