The Tattoo of Addiction
Recently, when I was in the mikveh, I noticed another Yid, an ehrlich chasidishe married fellow, who, to my great surprise, had tattoos on his body, not something I would have ever known in my encounters with him outside the mikveh, clearly.
Now, I had known this fellow was a baal-teshuva, but seeing the tattoos sort of jolted me, but then I told myself it's obvious he did this before he was even frum, a tinok shenishba, and instead of being stunned it was then I began to appreciate the greatness of this fellow.....
It would seem that the tattoos will always be there on his body, though it has absolutely no bearing on him now or who he is today. He doesn't need to feel like he has to cover his entire body until the actual immersion in the mikveh so no one will see it, because he is confident and knows he was a different person when he had that done, even though to the physical eye it seems the tattoos are very much part of him since they're on his body.
I was thinking this might apply to us. The aveiros and lusting we have done will always be there in the distance, the yetzer hara will not give up its struggle to try and get us to resume these aveiros, so in that sense they are always "there", though we know they too do NOT define us even remotely, for in our essence, we have a Godly soul, a cheilek Eloka! We were different people when we did that stuff, because that's not really us.