Though I have a lot of thoughts I would like to share (most of which originated with listening to the FAIR podcast over the last few weeks), I will narrow the focus here in an attempt to get these thoughts out so I can move on to my homework!
At the temple on Saturday I saw a woman at her locker who was very obviously pregnant. She asked me for a favor and when I said yes, she turned around and asked if I would zip up her dress. I chuckled and said that I would and asked her how far along she was.
"32 weeks. It might be my last time here for a while."
"In this dress, I think you are right!" We both laughed as I wrenched the zipper and she explained that she was having a third boy. I empathized and as I finished zipping I noticed a large-ish, faded, though once brightly-colored tattoo between this sister's shoulder blades. Her temple dress just barely covered it. She smiled, thanked me, and moved on.
And it was at that moment that I learned what I was meant to learn in the temple that day. When Sister Preggers got that tattoo a decade or so ago she was likely in a very different place in her life. Perhaps she'd never heard of the gospel and was just doing what all of her friends were doing; perhaps she'd been a member all her life and this was an act of desperate rebellion; perhaps her mother cried her eyes out when she saw the tattoo wondering if her daughter would ever come back the fold . . . . there are many possible scenarios. However, it is probably safe to say that she wasn't thinking/didn't care about what the prophets have counseled in the last 15 years regarding tattoos and piercings, nor how her Heavenly Father might feel about her marking her body that way.
But it occurred to me that even if there was sorrow among those who loved her at the moment of her marking herself in her rebellion, that it doesn't matter now. Her temple dress handily covered the outward manifestation and her covenants have taken care of the inward decisions that drove her to it. When we willingly come to Christ, the atonement can take care of everything. But unlike the temple dress, the atonement doesn't just cover the sins, it obliterates them.
And I realized something else: the story isn't yet written on any of us. A tattoo might mark the body, but there are other, darker things that mar the soul. Things that only Christ in his mercy can root out; only His grace can make us new people with changed hearts and willing hands. My story isn't yet written for good or bad. Just as I'm engraven upon His palms, I want His admonition and love and healing sacrifice written in the fleshy tablets of my heart. I want His words written on me. His countenance in mine. My hands to be His hands.