The man with the face tattoo

Two men came into Moe’s today.
One looked like our standard clientele around that time of the afternoon, business-y people on a late lunch break.
His friend had on an old t-shirt and ripped jeans and he never took off his sunglasses.
He had tattoos all over his arms and neck…and his face.

Across his forehead was the word FORSAKEN.

I was so struck by it that I probably stared for longer than was professional as I stood with my chip scooper in one hand and his burrito in the other, trying to remember the words “Will that be for here or to go?”
He answered gruffly, “I’m with him,” nodding in the businesslike man’s direction.
The businesslike man said more kindly, “We’re taking it with us.”
I couldn’t tell if the man with the face tattoo was looking at me, because of the sunglasses, but I felt like he was.
Forcing myself to smile and continue with my usual script even though I felt like crying, I asked if he’d like a drink.
“Doesn’t matter.”
The businesslike man told me, “He can have one.”
I rang them up and they walked out the door. The man with the face tattoo walked behind the businesslike man, not beside him like friends would.

I watched them get in a pickup truck and drive away, and one of my coworkers came over and asked me, “Did you see that guy’s face?”
Because I’m a terrible person and I make jokes as a defense mechanism when I feel vulnerable, I said, “I couldn’t really see it under all the tattoos.”
He said, completely seriously, “That man’s probably been in prison for a very long time. There’s no way he got those by himself. It’s sad.”
That seemed to make sense to me, and I wondered if the businesslike man was some kind of sponsor, not a parole officer but maybe someone volunteering to help ex-cons get used to freedom.

Sometimes I see people and remember the verse in the parable about the rich man, where it says “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”(it’s Mark 10:21)
I looked at the man with the face tattoos and I could feel Jesus loving him so much it made my stomach turn. And I wanted to jump over my register and give him a big hug and tell him so. But the bigger, more selfish part of me wanted to look away and go back to work and normalcy, so that’s what I did.

I know nothing about this man…except for this:
He is NOT forsaken, no matter what his forehead says, no matter what he’s done, whether he’s been to prison or not.
Jesus really really really loves him.
I’m sad that I didn’t say so. I hope he comes in again someday, and I hope my staring at his face for probably too long didn’t make him feel less lovable, because I’m sure plenty of people have already made him feel that way.

All I can do now is pray for him for a very long time.
And now that you know about him, you can do the same thing.

And hey, if you happen to run into a man that fits the above description, he’s probably him, so you can pass on the “Jesus really loves you” memo. Even if it isn’t him, I think anyone who looks like him could probably stand to hear those words.
I’m definitely numbing with humor again. I’m a work in progress.


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