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The following was written by Katie Steed for the LDS.org blog. To read the full article, click here

Never before had two flights of stairs seemed so long. I was coming back to church after a long absence, and my excitement had been replaced with fear. My desperate hope to believe in core doctrines of the Church, like Jesus Christ’s Atonement and the sealing power of the temple, had driven my return, but I worried that with a visible tattoo and extra piercing I would no longer fit in with my peers in the young adult congregation.

While my time away from church had some extremely dark moments, I honestly consider it as one of the most important times of my life. Never had I prayed so hard, examined myself and my beliefs so thoroughly, or faced my uncertainties so head-on as I did then. Once I came to terms with my struggles and questions, I realized how much I wanted to believe in the things I had been taught in the Church and decided to go back.

After making the decision, however, I started to worry about what others would think of me. I had a tattoo, and I wondered how I’d be judged because of it. I wondered if my questions about the gospel would seem silly to others and if I’d be labeled as undateable, unfriendable, and ignorable.

I finally made it to the Relief Society room that first Sunday and slid into the back row. I recognized a few people, but I avoided eye contact because I didn’t want them to ask where I had been or about my tattoo or piercing. My peers seemed to have perfect testimonies, and I marveled at the intelligent comments they made in classes. I felt like I was the only one with insecurities, and I worried that none of my peers would ever understand or accept me. I made it home that day without having to answer too many questions about my absence, but I wondered, would I feel like I had to dodge everyone and stare at the floor every Sunday for the rest of my life? Would my testimony ever grow?

To read the full article, click here