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I absolutely do not like the nickname “the Tattooed Mormon.” I would never call myself that and prefer that others would not refer to me as that either. (But I promise I wont get mad at you, either haha). I think talking about what is on my skin is completely irrelevant to where I am now in life and what I want the focus of my efforts to be on—how real and incredible the gospel is and how to use it on our lives. (And also the small detail that I got them when I was not a member).
How I got the nickname in the first place was from a blog post I consciously named myself, “Tattooed Mormon,” in an effort to avoid even bringing up tattoos in the post at all because I really didn’t want that to be the point. I figured having it subtly in the title I could avoid missing the point of the actual post about the incredible power of the atonement. I never would have imagined it would be a label that I can’t seem to shake no matter how hard I point others away from myself and towards Christ.
Calling me the tattooed Mormon is hardly any different than calling someone else the “used to smoke Mormon,” or the “I used to look at pornography Mormon.” Let me be clear, I am not saying tattoos are next to those sins, but I am saying that it is referring people by who they no longer are and by what they are no longer doing and a part of. And why would anyone ever want to do that? We most definitely would not like it if others did that to us. Because of repentance, because of Christ and His atonement, to God my tattoos are not just something He chooses to overlook, because they in reality do not even exist at all. That is what the atonement is. That is what the gospel does for us.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post about change, I received a priesthood blessing years ago and God told me that, “You are clean in front of Him. When He sees me He does not see my past or what’s on my body. They are gone. And He personally weeps with me when I don’t see that in myself.”
Maybe one day I wont be known as the “tattooed Mormon” to the world, but maybe just the happy Mormon or hopefully simply just the Mormon who is simply trying to help others. Just like the title of my book says, I am somuch more than that. And so are you. You are far more than the mistakes you’ve made. There is so much greatness in you. God sees that, and thatis what matters.
Let us move past the fact I have tattoos. Let us move past the fact that there are people in your ward that have a different journey than you with different lessons. Let us move past the fact that there is a lot of crazy stuff happening in the world, with even crazier opinions and viewpoints and changes. Let us refocus on why we are here and what we need to be doing. Let us refocus on Christ and His compassion He showed to absolutely everyone and His dedication to returning to our Father in Heaven. Let us have compassion and eternal motives behind every thought and action. Move forward with a brightness of hope and a new mindset and perspective and a whole lot of love and understanding.
“The wickedness of the church was a great stumbling-block to those who did not belong to the church; and thus the church began to fail in it’s purpose” (Alma 4:10). How awful is that scripture? That it is members of the church that is stopping the progression of others wanting to join our church because of how we choose to act. We’re all in this together. And if we as followers of Christ—the only ones with the true and full knowledge for happiness here and forever— are not the ones that will show love and compassion to others, who will be?
Today is the start of anything you want. This day will never happen again. Make it count. When we listen to negative comments, we’re giving permission and allowing the adversary in. You get to decide how your day should be. Decide how to react. Decide to be happy today, even in your trials and with other people’s shortcomings. Decide to love and be an example rather than judge and scold. Decide to laugh a lot & follow God. Live the gospel and eat lots of pizza. Be a little better than who you were yesterday. Exist to be happy, not impress. Experience forgiveness and extend forgiveness. Don’t let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life. Quit worrying over things that don’t matter because life is too short to not love the journey and lessons God has for you. Just relax, enjoy life & enjoy it being completely true to who you are and who God wants you to be.
The truth is that our trials and our circumstances and how other people see us will never alter the unchanging truth that this is all real— the gospel is real— God really does love you—and Christ really did die for you so you can become better and happier. The gospel is not our last option, it’s our only option. Do not let anything dim your faith, slow you down or diminish the truthfulness of His promises to you. His promises are so real and they never expire. No matter what, choose God. Choose His ways. We may not have all the answers we want about our future, but we know enough: we are led by an all powerful, all loving God. Why stop when we can keep going? Because can you think of anything more important than eternal life and endless happiness?
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