You are probably wondering, what do these three things have in common? Well, by the end of this post you’ll know!!
I finished reading this wonderful book called “More Than the Tattooed Mormon”, it was so inspiring. The story is about a woman, Al Carraway who is converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and finds herself traveling across the U.S., because her Heavenly Father told her through prayer. She goes through trials, and obstacles. And through her whole story she never gives up, and her faith holds strong. At first, I am not going to lie, it was hard for me to get into it, but after putting it down for a few months and then picking it back up, I could not put it down.
I felt as I read her story I felt that we were similar. You see, I am a convert to the church as well, and also have tattoos. I obviously never went through those major trials that she did, but I myself had trials, like everyone. Here is my story:
I was 21 when I got baptized. At 24 I was sealed for time and eternity. Best decisions of my life. Let me tell you how I got converted. I grew up in a Catholic household, and rarely attended mass. My husband, Dallin grew up in the church but was not active (didn’t attend church). His family however, was active. Whenever we would visit my in-laws , their homes, their attitudes had happiness, peace, love and warmth. I wanted that. So I started asking both my sister-in-laws questions about belonging to the church. I was so interested, and I WANTED to have those feelings ALL. THE.TIME!! The missionaries started showing up to my house and teaching me lessons. Fast forward to a few months later I was getting baptized. Sadly after a few months I stopped going. During that time I felt like I was always missing something…..my Heavenly Father. So, I started going back. I loved going, I loved the callings (“jobs” in the church) I had. I loved the joy.
There was one trial though that almost made me never want to come to church again. Like I said, I have tattoos, and at that time got another one. I posted a picture on Facebook, I know, I know…dumb. But I did. The next day I received an email from my bishop at the time telling me I was not worthy to have a Temple recommend. What?!?! I was going to lose my recommend. The thing that I was working so hard to get a keep. Those of you who do not know what a Temple recommend is, it is a piece of paper, a wonderful piece of paper that allows you to enter the Temple and perform sacred ordinances. I cried to my husband. After praying we met with our stake president at the time and we spoke about the situation. He was amazing, and obviously told me where the church stands on having tattoos but also told me that the our Heavenly Father gave us a gift. A gift called Agency. We have our free agency. We get to make choices but we also have the consequences, whether positive or negative. In D&C 101:78, it says, “that every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment”. I am grateful for my agency. I know the things I do will be judged only between the Lord and myself. And I am okay with that. I didn’t want to go to church. I felt so hurt. Dallin told me with his wise words, “you don’t go to to church for the people. You go for yourself, your faith, your love for the gospel, because of your testimony”. Yet again, he was right!! I could have stopped going, I could have been rude and yelled at the bishop for his judgement against tattoos, not me as a person. But my testimony in the church is far bigger than that. My love for Jesus and my Heavenly Father is abundant. Forward 5 years later, I just served as the Young Women’s president, earned my Young Women’s medallion, and attend regularly.
Some similarities, but, but nothing big as moving across the country!! But her story helped me realize the strength we have no matter the trials we go through. We are all human, we all have flaws. Our goal is to work towards mortal perfection. This talk from Elder Russell M. Nelson Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles says it very best: Mortal perfection can be achieved as we try to perform every duty, keep every law, and strive to be as perfect in our sphere as our Heavenly Father is in his. If we do the best we can, the Lord will bless us according to our deeds and the desires of our hearts.
Now, do you know what these 3 things have in common? They have the love for a Heavenly Father who blesses us. They wear on their bodies choices they made because of their free agency, and it also has 2 girls who wanted happiness and found it. I would totally recommend this book to members and non-members of the church. She is so inspiring, she helps you want to feel closer to the Lord, when you are struggling, that is when you need him the most. She teaches the power of prayer. She encourages and reassures. I recently got to meet her, and guess what? She is totally much more charming in person. If you ever want to hear her speak check out over to Al Carraway for a list of talks, purchase her book, or just read her posts and feel inspired.