Mormons & "Tattoos"
What does the “Tattooed Mormon” actually think about tattoos now? And what would you say to me if I really wanted to get one, but know that I shouldn’t? Have you gotten any since you were baptized? Can I still go to the temple if I have a tattoo? Any advice for us with metaphorical “tattoos”- our past mistakes, habits and wrongdoings?
I think those are the mot frequent questions and emails I get. I’ll start out by clearing up any misconceptions there may be. It’s not often I talk about my tattoos, simply for the reason of, I don’t think I need to, it’s not important. I’ve always wanted the focus to be on what I was trying to accomplish with sharing the Gospel and using the Internet for good, not my past and what I look like. I try to teach by example and actions, and allowed others to fill in their own blanks if they needed to, simply because telling the world all of these little unnecessary details about myself wasn’t a concern to me.
But I will clear this up: No, I did not come from a “broken home,” and no they are not a form of “rebellion.” Tattoos were nothing more but a way of culture.
I’ll fast forward to when I got baptized. I knew I shouldn’t get any more tattoos because the prophets said so, so I made the decision not to. I always had it in the back of my mind that’d I’ll always like them and have the desire to get more, but just not act on it. Not the case. And it wasn’t just tattoos, it was several things about the church I didn’t understand or necessarily agree with just because of the culture I grew up and lived in. But more I did in the Gospel, the more I learned, the more I prayed, the more I read, the more involved I got in my Branch, the more my vision and thoughts and outlook and desires changed. I wasn’t seeking answers to those specific things, but the more I exercised this faith I didn’t know if I had or not, and the more obedient I was, the more I just tried,the more blessed I was from Heavenly Father. I literally woke up one day and my mind was changed. I woke up one day and anything that I ever disagreed with, or desires I had that were not in line with the Gospel, disappeared on their own. He gave me understanding. Comfort. Knowledge. I have not gotten a tattoo since I got baptized, nor do I plan to or ever want to. The desire is not there. Do I look at mine with disgust? Absolutely not. To be honest, I don’t even notice them at all.
I actually never thought once about tattoos or even the fact that I had them until I moved to Utah. The way that I was looked at: disgusted, judged, confused, ignored, and mom’s pulling their kids away from me; the way that I was treated was the first time they ever became an issue. I was judged for who I used to be, not who I was and was becoming. So how do you move past that? Assuming most of you reading this do not have tattoos of your own, but what about your “tattoos?” Your past mistakes, habits or wrongdoings? How do you move past those, especially when you think people know them, or judge you by them?
Whether you had the knowledge before doing something you shouldn’t, or like me, had no knowledge of it previous to it, either way, it is irrelevant. Whether I had gotten those tattoos before I was baptized, or whether I grew up in the church and got them, it wouldn’t have mattered. And why is that?
Because of Christ. Whatever you have done, knowledge or not- physically apparent and visible, or not- you can move past it. You can always be forgiven, because of Christ. Everyone can be forgiven. I am sealed in the Temple to my sweetheart, and have been an ordinance worker in the Temple for 2 years and counting! I served in the Relief Society presidency for over 2 years, and am currently in the Young Women’s presidency. And how is that?
Because God does not see me as “The Tattooed Mormon.” Because God does not see any of my tattoos. To Him they are completely gone.
And for you? God does not see yours. Not when we change. Not when we try. Not when we turn to Him, and use this faith you may think you don’t have.
Take confidence in the blessings He has given us. When we repent, no matter who you are or where you came from, when we move away and move forward, not only are we always forgiven, but they are forgotten. To Him, they are gone. To us, they become testimony. Knowledge. Strength.
Our God, your God, is an unchangeable God. And that doesn’t just mean His commandments are unwavering, but also His love for you. Personally and individually you.
Do not let who you used to be, hold yourself back from who you can become. That is frustrating everything that the Atonement stands for and is. “How could ye have rejected that Jesus who stood with open arms to receive you?” (Mormon 6:17) Do not hold yourself back. Do not shortchange yourself. Because it is not Him who is not there for us. It is us who is not there for Him, to let Him help and change and heal.
This post isn’t necessarily about literal tattoos. It’s a post about moving forward. A post about growth. To those who have uncertainties and questions or doubts, I say, keep going. Keep trying. To those struggling to overcome or change, I say, keep going. Keep trying. Keep praying. Communication with your God, your Father in Heaven is essential. You are always worthy to pray. You are always worthy to turn to Him. You will never be “too far gone” to turn to Him. You will never be too far gone for Him to help you. For Him to heal, and forgive you. Because of that unchanging love He has for you. Because of that unwavering, never weakening, always there, love that He has for personally and individually you. “Tattoos” and all.
“A shepherd hath called after you and is still calling after you.”(Alma 5:37) “And I said: Lord, how is it done? And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ.” (Enos 1:7-8)
Keep going. Keep trying. Keep praying. Move forward. Teach by example. Focus. Refocus on what matters most in life. Be patient with yourself, and most importantly be proud of yourself. Be proud of the steps, no matter how small they seem to you, that you have taken to become better. Be proud that you are trying even if you aren’t there yet. Be proud and throw out any sliver of discouragement with your efforts, because it is when we try and act that we are blessed. Help is always there. Comfort and healing is always there. Change is always available, because Christ is always there. Because your Father in Heaven is always available to you. Always.