Friday, May 9, 2014

Being married to the 'Tattooed Mormon'

Oh, the words of advice we were given from people before we were married. They would say marriage is tough. Marriage is hard. Marriage is a battle. Marriage isn't easy. Are you sure your ready? You're life is over. No more fun and games. Others would say that it was the best time of your life. A new adventure. A new beginning. True happiness.We've all heard them right? I think being married to my wife has been the best thing that has ever happened to me.

A lot of people know my wife as the 'Tattooed Mormon'. Though, I must say I very much dislike that nickname for my wife. I have never been a big fan of the name 'Tattooed Mormon' and she knows that. When we were engaged people at her speaking events, and even people I know would tell me 'How does it feel to marry a celebrity?' Or 'how do you do it? How do you look past the tattoos she has, knowing that people will stare?' Some would even applaud me on marrying her, because of her past and how her past is so visual. I mean really? Serious? Hearing that use to bother me. Not once have I ever noticed or even cared that she has tattoos, I just don't see them when I look her. Sure, I know they are there, but its not something I have ever cared about. When we were writing on my mission or when we were dating I would tell people about her, it was: "She is a blonde hair, blue eyed girl, with a killer testimony and personality." Not ever was it: "Oh, I'm dating this girl with tattoos, with blonde hair and blue eyes." Because, to me who cares if she has tattoos. It's not a big deal. That was part of her past, before she even became a member of the Church.

I don't think she should be defined or known by some as the 'Tattooed Mormon'. Sure she has tattoo's and to some her past shows, but why should that define her? She is just like anyone in this Church. The greatest part of this Gospel is that people can change. She is a wonderful example of that! Boy, is she ever! She has shared with me how hard it was for her in Utah with people judging her for her tattoos, not giving her a chance. Pasts scare some people. But, I love that about her.

I have a past that I'm not proud of, a past that took me years to overcome and years to cope with. I know very well now I have been forgiven and lots of blessings have come. I was always worried about who I would marry, because I thought who I used to be would be a road block for some girls. I always wanted to marry someone who knows me, and accepts me, and has a story of her own. I found her. I feel as though, it's hard sometimes to let people change. Or doubting that they even can. This Church and Jesus Christ is about accepting anyone and everyone. No matter what they look like, no matter what they have done or where they have been. Christ is the master of change. He gives anyone who comes unto Him a new heart and a new mind. He is beautiful. He makes everyone beautiful, if they just trust in him and believe they can change.

Let pasts go. Allow people to show you that they can change, grow, and become better. My wife was called out for how she looked on her first day in Utah because she was tattooed and holding a church book. That guy told her how foolish she looked. That's messed up. When my wife and I meet people, a lot of the time I will notice their eyes just starring at her tattoos. To me she is not the 'Tattood Mormon' nor will she ever be in my eyes.

Marriage for us, I can firmly say, has not been hard one bit. Sure there have been life difficulties, but we get over them. I love her more and more everyday. I love her more than the day I married her. I find her even more attractive then when we first met. I fall in love with her everyday. Even to this day when I look in her deep blue eyes, I know why I married her. I married her not for her looks, sure that's a bonus, but I married her for WHO she is. I love who she is, where she came from and what it took for her to get where she is today. I married way above myself. She keeps me corrected. She keeps me on the right course. Marriage should never be tough. Never marry because of looks and looks only. Marry someone who you are attracted to in every way, especially spiritually. Spiritual attraction is most important, that's what makes those hard things easier. Marry someone who has the same end goal in mind.

Sure my wife has tattoos and a lot of people stare, and some know her as the Tattooed Mormon, and others know who my wife truly is. I love my wife and her courage to open her mouth to prove that people can change. I have. She has. We all can change. Don't let your appearance, your past, or whatever stop you from changing. Let people show you they can change, you never know what their potential is. Tattoos should never define someone. Pasts should never define someone. Christ died for our transgressions. If he forgets about them and doesn't notice us for what we have done, let us forget and forgive.

34 comments:

  1. Ben,
    You are my Hero!!!! God bless you for your determination and ability to be like Christ!

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  2. Bah! I just wrote stinking long reply and somehow lost it... maybe I'll try again later.

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  3. Wonderful post! We've all made choices and mistakes in our life. That's why we are here! To learn and to grow.
    1 Samuel 16:7

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  4. There is no saint without a past, and no sinner without a future.

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  5. You guys are awesome! I loved this article. Honestly you kinda make me think of my hubby and I. We both have some serious pasts and have found a lot of peace in the church. Honestly I have found the fact that I have tattoo's that people can see to be a wonderful missionary opportunity. After all every member must be converted. When people first meet me I am judged for them but once they get to know me even for a short period of time they realize that it's not who I am. They often times are less judgmental towards others who look like me. I was always told that I would regret so many of the decisions that I made including my tattoo's and yes my life would have been easier without those mistakes but I love who I am today and that I can help others from the lessons that I have learned.

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  6. So much about your writing that I loved - but mostly your love story. Her tattoos are a part of her story. Just like our weathered skin from sitting in the sun too much is a part of our story. Maybe not the best decisions long term, but at the time, they seemed reasonable. The Lord looketh on the heart. She was not bound by our standards before a member. Frankly - I wish our seats at church were full of more of these powerful stories of people finding redemption. The most magnificent thing to me is when someone finds the love of the Lord (perhaps through a fine young man) and turns their life over to Him. That's what I think is the most precious about your story. NEVER EVER allow her to be "tagged" with the name Tattooed Mormon. We could have all kinds of tags like, "judgmental mormon" or "self righteous mormon," but that is not who were are or what we represent. We are children of Christ; His disciples and hopefully it is our conduct that tags us as His. Loved your post and your heart! Thank you for touching mine with your love for your girl.

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  7. A lot of what you said reminds me of Jeffrey R. Holland's talk: Remember Lot's Wife. He says, "Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is it charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ." Love you guys! :)

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  8. Ben- This is a beautiful love story =) And you two are a beautiful couple! Congratulations!

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  9. I believe she is a beautiful person inside and out. even though I don't know her but what your words say she is someone very special:) She may have tattoos, but she may want them and like them even though she got them before she became a member. they may be a part of her that she doesn't want to change. and that is ok also! My daughter has a beautiful one on her ribs that make her feel good and beautiful, and she is. and she got it after becoming a member. although know one should judge her. as this was what she felt good doing:) she ha no regrets! GOD sees my daughter as beautiful, as many others do, with or without her tattoo!

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  10. I seriously love your wife! I remember the first time I met her and heard her story I was completely in awe of her and her courage. I didn't even really notice her tattoos until she talked about them being a reminder of all she has overcome. I am one of many people who has a past that I'm not proud of, but I am so grateful of the reminder that this is a gospel of second chances. The past is called the past for a reason. We learn from our mistakes and move on as stronger people. Thank you for writing this Ben, I admire you both SO much!

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  12. My husband always reminds me that he was given a vision of me in the temple the day we were sealed to each other. A vision that showed him who I really am. My husband saw what the Lord sees in me...and that is the most awesome blessing.
    Thank you for saying "spiritual attraction" My husband loves the Lord, and I love him for that. I see the man who the Lord sees.

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  13. what loving person you are (y) sounds very special too me

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  14. My BFF goes to the temple with rainbow hair now. It's not her past; it's her present, and that's ok too. LDS love judgment markers--ways we can pass judgment just by looking at someone b/c it's "the easiest" way to judge their righteousness. I appreciate what you wrote and wish to add on to just the sentement of not judging people's pasts based on looks. We shouldn't judge their present looks either.

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    1. Honestly your friend should reconsider her colored hair if she wants to be taken seriously. The way you dress, act, speak etc believe it or not actually does reflect who you are, and that is the purpose of being unique in the first place. The way you portray yourself actually does say a lot about who you are. Unless she does want people to think she is a rebel Mormon with rainbow hair, but hey, everybody is at a different level of commitment and that's fine, I mean, who would expect every person to be perfect. Truthfully the people who think someone can't judge someone by just looking at them have no idea what discernment is. Like the guys said below, judgements are perfectly normal, gotta do it.

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  15. We all make judgments every day and that is a necessary part of life. However, it is important to make righteous judgments. We moved to Utah about three years ago and have enjoyed being close to family. We did however find some sadness as we talked to non-members who said that they were told that because they are not members their children couldn't play with some others because that is what their church teaches. We are now on a mission, working with a sister who lived in Utah for many years and had to leave before she could find the gospel. I have assured her that the close minded attitude she experienced, that of being looked down up as a less than worthy person is not the teaching of the church. Congratulations on you marriage, and your Christ like attitude. To quote Matthew Cowley; "If all our sins smelled like cigarettes, none of us could sit in church"

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  16. I think it's a cool nickname the tattooed Mormon. it's the thing that sets Al apart. I know tons of girls with good personalities and strong testimonies. But the ones that impact me the most are the ones who fought to get there. When I see her tattoos there like her badges of courage. Her fight to get there is more visible, that's why she is so relatable, in many ways were all "tattooed Mormons."

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  17. I too have tattoos & feel that because of my past I am more understanding & less judgemental of those going to faith testing times. Thank you for showing everyone that it's what's on the inside that counts & hopefully make us all mindful of "judging not lest we be judged"! God Bless you both:)

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  18. Great post, I am so glad that you love your wife for who she is and not her tattoos, that you are able to look past that and don't see them. BUT...for the rest of us, that is what draws us to her and gives us the desire to know her better and her story. I am so glad that she is willing to share her struggles and trials during a time when she searching for her faith. Many would've given up, because to them faith involves social acceptance, but Al moved forward because she knew what she believed. She knew that her faith didn't depend on others, it was personal to her and God, for some that realization comes later and therefore really struggle in the beginning, only to give up too soon. Many of us don't get the opportunity to know her personally and see more than what we learn from her blog posts. We love her for being the tattooed Mormon and for living a life of faith and trust for our Heavenly Father. You are also a vital part, so I want to thank you for joining her in the adventure she is on and being willing to share your lives to many who are searching for examples. We need her strength, we love her faith and we love her. :)

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  19. I am covered in tattoos myself, head to feet, including my face. I took a turn down a dark alley while others went down a nice shiny road. My mistakes are loud and clear, constant reminders of my past are thrown in my face daily. By members of the church as well as society. But, at the end of the day I feel good inside cause I know for a FACT the atonement is for the people who judge me just as it is for myself. I ended up in places people fear greater then GOD, I seen things that I will never tell anyone but GOD, and I felt an emotional pain in my heart that brought me to my knees in the worst part of a California prison cell begging GOD to forgive me, also begging GOD to help me forgive myself and others. I love everyone that judges me and I hope they can be forgiven for their mistakes. I will guarantee anyone that reads this post that the lds church is true and I have searched high and low, the quran, I ching, native American literature, bhuddist literature, even the demonic books such as the secret teachings of amberlim, to find out one simple FACT the church of Jesus Christ of latterday saints is the only church that ties the rest together there is no guessing. Jesus Christ died for what he believed in and saved everyone of us who will accept the facts and fallow the commandments. love GOD with all your heart mind body and soul... Love your neighbor as you love yourself, Even love the ones that have tattoos. in the name of Jesus Christ amen, -Nic

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  20. I heard Al speak at a fireside last year and her enthusiasm blows me away! Good for her! I love her and I don't even know her. :)

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  21. I love so much about this post. Thank you for not turning this into a "Utah Mormon" hate post. I have grown up here and I know that people's hearts are full of good intentions. Chances are people stare now because Al is a celebrity! haha I agree though, I don't like referring to Al as the "tattooed Mormon" because she's more than that. I love her positive attitude and enthusiasm for the gospel. She is such a light in the dark- and I don't even know you guys! I have personally talked to a lady in my ward who came back after seeing the wedding photo of you two coming out of the temple because of the tattoos. She felt hope and started coming back to church and will be getting sealed to her husband and kids, just from a picture! I am grateful the two of you open up to let people see your testimonies. THANK YOU!!!

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  22. I was inspired beyond words and brought to tears when I saw your wife's story. I celebrated her decision to move on from her past and even though my past isn't as "visible," I felt strengthened by her faith and testimony. You're absolutely right, by my referring to her as the "Tattooed Mormon", I am indeed defining her by the very past she's left behind. Thank you for taking a valiant stand for your wife and your future. May God continue to bless the both of you and may we ALL progress onward and upward.

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  23. oh wow!!! this is sooo well written and should be shared everywhere!! people need to not see someone's past and judge them, but look at them for who they are.. I have a bit of a past, who doesn't and some people still see it and not who I am now. that hurts.. People need to remember to be more forgiving and accepting, that's what the gospel is all about!!!

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  24. I loved this! You really can't judge people by the way they look. People are shocked all the time when they get to know me. I come across as a born into the church Utah mormon and they are shocked when they hear about my past or that I love weapons. hehe. I have to say I love the shock factor though. Bravo to you for seeing her for who she is. When I first joined the church I got engaged shortly after to a member and once he found out about my past he was a total jerk! I found my man who has his own past and has a true testimony and understanding of the atonement. Together we help and love each other like Heavenly Father intended.

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  25. You are both an inspiration for me! I am becoming active in the church after many years and need testimonies like yours. I am really happy for you guys! Thank you so much!!

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  26. I love your family! You and your wife have been the biggest inspiration to me in following the lord and pressing forward. My idols in life. And i am so jealous you met president Eyring he is my absolute favorite!

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  27. Other than a conservative mentality, tattoos are not spiritually wrong. Some interpret them to be rebellious but that is not usually the case. I am a convert and before I joined the church got a few tattoos as a committed expression of who I am. They are all christian in nature and even if they were not I would still not feel ashamed of the or want to remove them. I even am considering getting another one sometime. Righteous judgement against ourselves is one thing, but to take on that responsibility for others is not our place. We should worry about ourselves and not others as we have enough struggles to overcome individually.

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  28. Amen. Thank you so much for this post!

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  30. i just love her conversion story!!!! My 18 almost 19 year old came home from UVU the other day after listening to her speak at the institute there and she was so inspired by her relationship with Christ. Thank you for sharing. It wasn't about her tattoos at all. It was about her courage and faith to follow God. What beautiful and inspiring faith!!!!! We need more of her in the world!

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