Encouragement | T-shirt Testimony

We have been friends with Wes Canestrari for a long time. We have worked mission trips, community service projects, participated in bible studies and worshiped together.  He's always got a wink and a hug, not to mention- he's the guy that you always want on your team for Trivia Night at our local Mexican restaurant because he's chock full of useless knowledge...seriously, I sometimes wonder if he just sits around and reads Trivial Pursuit question cards for fun.  The three of us (Anna, Wes and I) have a sibling-like relationship that I wouldn't trade for anything. 

A few years ago he told me he was getting a tattoo.  Tattoos scare me. Not necessarily the needle part, but the finality of one.  It's there. Forever. Eek. So of course, when he told me this, I rolled my eyes and thought "Oh me, what now?" He wouldn't tell me what he was getting, just that he had been toying with the idea for a couple of years...which was worse than knowing he was getting one in the first place.  

The tattoo that Wes designed was one of the most poignant, meaningful tattoos I've ever seen.  The thought behind it, how it meshed with his story, the Bible verse that was referenced...All of it. I loved it. It was perfect.  So when Anna and I began this little venture and started coming up with ideas for designs, that tattoo kept coming up in conversation.  Fast forward several months to our T-shirt Testimony series; Enter, Wes and the inspiration behind the design for our newest shirt. 

We are thrilled to have him introduce our newest design, his design, which is benefiting Celebrate Recovery, "a Biblically balanced program that helps individuals overcome hurts, hang-ups, and habits.  It is based on the actual words of Jesus, rather than psychological theory." (retrieved from www.celebraterecovery.com)

For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes. Proverbs 24:16

Years ago, during a tough time in my life, I was directed to this verse.  I was in school, away from home, studying a program that I had no confidence that I would finish.  I felt like a burden to everyone I loved, both family and friends.  I felt like I had ZERO direction in my life.  I knew that the situation that I was in was going to come crashing down around me soon, but this verse gave me hope that it would all work out.  It made me go back to some tough physical times like sports growing up, and more serious times like surviving a horrible auto accident that left me bed ridden for 2 months.  It made me think about how if I had not endured my weaknesses, my emotions, my lack of stamina, and mostly my pain, I would not be where I was at that time physically.  

This helped me relate this process to my spiritual life.  Even though it was extremely tough, I knew that God had a plan for me, and was going to use these hard times to mold me into who I am going to be in the future.  Admittedly, this was the beginning of my darkest time of my life.  I had almost no self-esteem, almost no prospect of a job, but the worst thing was the fact that I had no drive to correct my situation.  But during this dark time, I kept remembering that the wise or righteous person always gets back up after being knocked down.  It is the wicked person that lays down and does not fight to make things right in his or her life.  This person is wicked because they do not trust their Father in Heaven to mold them.  With the encouragement of my family and friends, I was able to get back on my feet, get knocked down, get back up, get knocked down again, and get back up again. I felt God’s Grace through the Holy Spirit moving my soul, as well as God’s Grace through all the people that loved me.

Over the next few years of being knocked down I had a want to get a tattoo to be a daily reminder of what I had to do every day of my life.  I designed it myself over the span of a few months.  Finally I landed on eight arrows pointing up, and seven arrows pointing down on top of them.  I had it done on Easter Sunday of 2010 with the support of a dear friend.

Over the years of having this, I have gotten the opportunity to explain the significance of this design.  It is my goal and hope to encourage others, just as others encouraged me, to keep pushing forward and keep getting up after being knocked down.  The Earthly life can be a roller coaster of ups, downs, loops, and rolls, but if we keep our trust in Jesus and our Lord, we can overcome any hardship that we might face.

I know that my life will continue to have some times where it hits me in the face, but now, I have a peace to know that there is always a better situation around the corner.  I just have to get up off the mat and take the next step.  Hope is a powerful thing, and when one feels it slipping away, depression and madness follow.  I know, I was there.  This design is here to show others that you do have hope, but it is up to you to believe in that hope.  God NEVER gives up on us, even when we tend to lose faith in him.  It is my hope that by wearing and seeing this shirt you will be blessed with the knowledge that “It will get better.”

Thank you and God Bless.

Wes Canestrari