I feel like people with tattoo's are kind of looked at as irresponsible heathens. It's as if people think that anyone with tattoo's is gonna get them hooked on big time drugs and go rob a bank. Because obviously, ink in your skin means you are a criminal.
I'd like to take the time to remind you all that the most prolific (and horrific) criminals of our time didn't have tattoo's. Just sayin'.
I don't regret getting them. Each time was very cathartic for me and truly helped me get passed some of the crappiest parts of my life. I look at them now and think Heck yes, I survived that. It did not and does not define me. I won. That is worth it to me. They are true expressions of very big parts of me.
|Full Disclosure: I didn't get my tattoo's while I was a practicing member of the church.|
Why? Because I have children. Simple as that. I don't want my kids to grow up and see my tattoo's or Daniel's tattoo (Yep, we are both tattoo'd heathens) and think that it is okay for them to go out and get one. I wouldn't look down on their tattoo's. I would accept and love them as they are and I know that they're exercising their free will. But I would be disappointed in that decision, and that I didn't instill in them the deep abiding love and acceptance for what their Heavenly Father has asked them not to do.
Which is what this all comes down to: as a practicing and faithful member of the church, our Heavenly Father has asked us to treat our bodies as temples and not put a bunch of holes in it or to cover it with tattoo's.
Just because I have tattoo's doesn't make me "less Mormon" or lesser in any way. It simply means I have tattoo's. Period. I don't feel as if I am branded as some sort of outcast in the church, but I know a lot of that has to deal with my attitude about them. It's hard standing out with a permanent record of something that the church has asked us not to do. But people don't know my story, they don't know my life but that sure doesn't stop anyone from judging me.
I want to be clear that no one in my church has ever said anything to me about my tattoo's. To them I am Sister Rice and they love me just as I am, tattoo's or not. I have never felt out of place when I am at the temple, I have never felt unworthy because of my tattoo's. Which I think is kind of funny because everyone thinks Mormon's look down upon you for things like this. While there are always a few bad apples in a barrel, for the vast majority I haven't felt anything but love. I know that I am lucky in this and there are those that feel persecution for being different and to them I say: some people suck. The gospel doesn't suck. The gospel is awesome. You do you and don't worry about them!
Luckily for me, and for all of you, Heavenly Father knows the very details of our lives. He knows us and loves us just as we are. He is the one I answer to, not the old bitty in the grocery store who thinks I am a hooligan, and not the uppity people of society who think I am an irresponsible miscreant because I have Barbra Streisand's autograph on my foot. If anyone got to know me they'd know instantly that I am not even close to any of the stereotypes of those who have tattoo's. I would hate to think someone didn't want to be my friend or invite me to things based on perceived ideas about my lifestyle. Not to toot my own horn, but they'd be missing out.
I believe that's why not judging is such an important lesson. You never know anyone's story unless you take the time to ask them, unless you take the time to know them. Writing people off based on stereotypes or society's standards...well, that cuts off a whole lot of amazing people.
You never know if one of those people you aren't giving the time of day is supposed to be your best friend. My best friend and I have a lot in common, but we didn't at first glance. We were completely and totally different, we didn't (and don't) agree on a lot of things. But we think the same things are funny. We have a lot of the same anxieties. We are both loyal and loving. Where would I be if I decided she was a goody goody and what if she decided I was a rebel bad girl? I can tell you I'd be missing a HUGE chunk of my life and my life would definitely be lesser without her.
Just because you have a tattoo doesn't make you a bad person. Just like going to church doesn't make you a good person. You have to take the time to get to know someone based on what is INSIDE and not what is on the outside. It's cliche but it is 100% true.
Just give people a chance, love them, support them and leave the judging to Jesus.
Can I get an amen?