Monday, June 17, 2013

I'm a tattooed Mormon too

So there's this really sweet awesome amazing girl who everyone is talking about. My mom sent me a link of her story in a church magazine. She said she thought of me when she read it. The girl is nicknamed The Tattooed Mormon. She has an amazing story of her conversion, baptism, relocation to Utah, and I'm pretty sure her engagement story is amazing as well. I love her, and even tho we haven't met, she's my hero. Her bravery in not hiding her tattoos is awesome.

I guess I don't intentionally hide mine, if I showed them off, I'd need a censor bar.... Well, for one of them. But since I've gotten married I've become real conservative when it comes to clothing. Cuz once I got married, I started going to a family ward at church, and I guess I don't want to be the one who makes the kids ask their parents if tattoos are ok... So I watch what I wear. (I like my tattoos, sometimes when I'm feeling down on myself, I look at them and I feel good about how I look, and am not as bothered by the fact that I haven't lost the baby weight yet....)

Anyways, I grew up Mormon, was baptized, but my conversion happened much later. No sparks, no angel chorus, no light from above, just the feeling that this gospel, these teaching were what I needed in my life, were what I was missing. I needed truth and belonging, and I got that at church. I felt at home in church, and I hadn't felt comfortable in church for a very long time. I made friends at church, friends who had the same goals, who didn't judge me and wanted to lift me up. (Not saying that my previous friends wanted to bring me down, but I didn't always make the best choices with my other friends.) I was discovering who I wanted to be, who I could be. I was figuring out who I needed to be. 

One thing I've learned since I moved out here : be careful who you open up to. I had been dating a boy for a few months and he had started to talk about marriage, hasn't proposed officially but had said on few occasions that he wanted to marry me. Well, his younger brother was struggling, had started drinking and smoking, and I felt I needed to share a little bit about myself with him. I told his brother a little bit of my story, and basically told him to be careful, and to always talk with his family, your family is always there for you. Well, the brother told my boyfriend and the boyfriend stopped talking to me all together. Wouldn't take my phone calls, wouldn't answer my text messages, nothing. I saw his brother a few weeks after our talk and asked him if he knew what was going on. The boyfriend didn't like that I had a past and didn't want to marry someone with that much of a "bad" history. Well, I met Shark a little after that and I was really apprehensive about telling him anything. We ended going swimming with the church group, he saw my tattoos, they didn't bother him. I didn't let that boy go!!

Anyways, I put up a lot of walls, and I didn't share much with anyone because I didn't want to feel like that again. I felt like the whole world (here in Utah) would shut me out, turn away from me, judge me for who I had been, who I was trying to change from. I wanted so desperately to be liked, to belong, to have friends. So I hid parts of myself, parts of who I had been. But I am so glad I found Shark, because even tho I have tattoos and know what goes better with rum than whiskey, he loves me for who I am now, and who I will be, who I have potential to become. He sees me as a wife, a mother to his children, as a Daughter of God. And I love that. I need that. 

I struggled when picking out my wedding dress. Should I get one that had a high back to cover my tattoos, or should I get one with a normal back line? I had come to the decision to find one with a normal back line. I felt that showing my tattoos was an outward expression of how far I had come, the obstacles I had overcome to get to where I was. I was going to be walking out of the Temple in this dress, tattoos showing, sealed to my eternal companion!! I also felt that if anyone had a problem with it, it was not on my head and they should talk to a higher authority... I didn't show my tattoos out of disrespect for the Temple or the sacred ordinance of marriage and sealing, I showed them because they are a part of me. They do not define me, but have become just another scar on the canvas that is me. Just one more thing I have overcome, one more trial I've faced on my pathway to being sealed for time and all eternity. 

And honestly, in making all my truckload of mistakes I've come to know myself. Who I am. I am confident in myself. I know where I stand. I'm comfortable with me. I know what I'm capable of getting thru. (And I keep surprising myself cuz tougher things keep coming!) I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. And even though it felt like I wavered and zigzagged, I look back on my life and it is a straight line to where I am right this minute. If I hadn't gone to BYU-I, if I hadn't gotten dismissed from BYU-I, if I hadn't moved in with my aunt, if my car hasn't broken down and I moved back to WI, if I hadn't gotten a job offer and moved back to UT, if my friends hadn't told me to leave, if I hadn't slept in and gone to the later ward, if I hadn't moved to Shark's city..... Yeah things would be SOOOOOOO different. 

I know it's hard. Trust me, sometimes it sucks. But I know the life we're given, the trials we individually go thru are not above us. Yes, we struggle, but that's the point. I know, it sucks to struggle. Sometimes it seems like that's all we do, is struggle with hardship and trial, one right after the next. But we are strong. I believe our Heavenly Father knows exactly what we can handle. He doesn't give us trials that we cannot get thru. Remember math in elementary? When we started addition it was hard. Then they gave us subtraction and that was hard too. And multiplication was hard. And then division, and then they mixed them together... And then they added letters! And it was all hard, but subtraction wasn't really harder than addition, it was just new, so we had to learn how to get thru it. And now look, we can do hard math with letters and parentheses and fractions. Cuz we're awesome. 

I may just be a stay at home mom with a heart condition, but it's hard. This life is hard. No one has it easy. Some days it's hard to have a child climb all over you and punch you with his little lime-sized hands, and on those days I just want to cry. And I do, I had no idea there would so much crying in motherhood... But then, thru my tears, I see our wedding picture. And I see that young blonde girl in her wedding dress, grabbing the tuxedo of that handsome young man, as they smile into each others eyes, their hopes and dreams reflecting there... They family they have planned, the house with the dog. Neither one suspecting that in 3 months she'll be told she needs an open heart surgery, and he will go thru anxiety and stress that comes when faced with a loved one's mortality. Neither one ever thinking what they go thru in the future could bring them closer, because how could they ever be closer, stronger than they are right now? On their wedding day?

And that's when I pause Handy Manny, and scoop my son up in a hug and dance with him. Because if I were not who I am today, I would not see it this way. I would not be as grateful for the blessings in my life. I would not know the good from the bad, the bitter from the sweet. I'm grateful for the lessons I've learned. Yes, I learned those lessons at a cost, no choice comes without a price, but it is one I would willing pay again to have the same knowledge and insight I do. 

I know it's hard. But always look to the light. Where light is darkness is not. But please do not feel like a failure if your thoughts aren't always light. We read our scriptures, we pray as a family, we go to church, we pay our tithing, and the hardest thing I've found is keeping the Savior in the forefront of my mind, in my thoughts daily. I suck at it. Seriously, it's like, "ok thinking of Christ...ooh, pop tarts..." And then I don't bring my mind back around to Christ for hours. I've tried to start seeing Him in things I do daily. Like cleaning the house, when the house is clean, we're happy and at peace, and peace at home brings Christ and the Holy Spirit into our home. Or playing with my son, when teaching my child, it helps me to be more child-like and submissive to His teachings. And singing, I sing Danger's nursery songs with him, they bring The Spirit right into the home, plus they make us happy and Danger is learning them! 

I want to say : you are not alone. No matter who you are, what your situation might be, what faith you are : YOU ARE NOT ALONE! You are not the first person to have that trial, that struggle, that test. You are not the only one facing these things, having these thoughts, having these challenges. 

Heavenly Father and our Savior know you, know your struggles, know your Spirit. You are loved. You are strong. You are awesome. 

Always look to the light. 

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