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Mark Albright
Monday, August 26 2013

Al Fox: How She’s Thrived as the Tattooed Mormon

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Let me share with you a story that I tell during my firesides that everyone gasps out of shock to. An experience that happened to me- due to my appearance- that when I say it everyone reacts the way I did when it happened. Although, truth be told, if it wasn't me telling the story to them, it could of very well been any of them that did the same thing as this man did.

This happened 3 years ago; my very first day in Utah after the long, uncomfortable and terrifying trek across the country by myself to a new place where I didn't know a single person. I moved, against my will, because I knew that's what Heavenly Father wanted me to do. I moved regardless of how hard it was and regardless of the fact I had no idea why I needed to be here. And I was scared. Not just because it was new, but because of the warnings I received from so many people. “Al, don't move to Utah. No one will like you. Al, if you move to Utah, you will NOT fit in." That was really hard to hear and I tried my hardest to ignore those remarks.

So here I am, my very first day across the country in my new home, and what am I suppose to do now? I haven't the slightest idea. Heavenly Father didn't tell me that much yet, haha. I ended up at Cafe Rio- we don't have those back home- and you have to know I have a thing for tacos. So, you have to visualize this, you know how the line kind of snakes around, so you are in a big group of people while waiting? Well, I was right in the middle of it. And I was holding a church book in my hands. It was more of a grasp/hug to this book; it was a biography on one of the prophets. And while I was waiting in line I felt very tense. I could feel stares in every direction; it felt like lasers. I stood there stiff trying to ignore it but I couldn't. I could physically feel the stares from everyone. Finally, the guy next to me tapped my on the arm and said, "You know...it's pretty ironic you look the way you do holding that book."

My heart broke. Stomach knotted. Eyes teary.

It took a bit for me to react. So many emotions ran through me, and I had to decide which one I was going to express to him. What I so badly wanted to do was to turn to him, and yell. Yell and cry to him, "Do you know what I just went through?! Do you know how hard this is! Do you know who- and what- I had to give up to be here, and I don't even know why!"

How badly I wanted to walk around everywhere with my scriptures so that the 'lasers' would stop. And they didn't. I so badly wanted people to see me for who I've become. I literally craved more than anything for people to just know that I was trying. That's it. That I was trying. And they couldn't, and it hurt me so badly that it became physically exhausting.

How easy it would have been to yell at him. How easy it would have been to get mad. To get offended. How easy it would have been to not just take it out on him, or the people of the city as a whole. But furthermore, how easy it would have been to be upset and confused towards Heavenly Father for leading me to such a place with so many lack of answers, answers that would have been very comforting during those experiences that so frequently occurred. How hard it was at this time to have just been baptized, still with such a small sliver of knowledge of the gospel and feel that. To not have any boys talk to me because they are looking for temple-worthy girls. Because they are looking for someone I do not exactly portray, that they didn't even talk to me.

Yeah- how easy it would have been to feel and react that way. But I fought it. I decided otherwise.

 I turned to this man in Café Rio. I introduced myself. I shook his hand. I smiled so big and simply said, “I just got baptized; this is my first day here!” I said it with happiness. I said it with pride. With confidence.

How different things would have gone if I didn't do that. I had to make a decision. And it’s a decision I have to make every day. One you have to make every day. Several times a day. And what that is is to choose to get mad. Choose to get offended. Bothered. Confused. Or….not.  The decision to keep going. The decision to be happy and follow the spirit and counsel given….or not. Choose to have faith. Choose to trust. Or not. What it came down to- and what it always will come down to- is choose God. Or not.  And I already chose who I wanted to follow, didn't I?  That is what happens when you get baptized.

To keep in mind, always, that everyone is at different spots in life. Everyone needs to learn different things, different ways. And to know, that I could maybe be the one to help them learn to not get mad and prove them right, but to be me and prove otherwise. It’s a question I often thought of following my baptism and my family’s disapproval, and that is, ‘How do you teach someone that doesn't want to listen?’ ‘How do you teach someone that you may never get to speak with or meet?’ And after much thought an prayer, I came up with an answer. An answer that inspired this blog to be started in the first place. An answer that inspire me to make Youtube videos. an answer that triggered my ‘March Madness’ traveling all over speaking for the pasttwo years and that is, by example. Teach by example. What happiness that has brought! How many incredible people I have met because of that decision. How many incredible experiences! How many blessings.

When those times arise where you have to make that same decision I did, think to yourself, ‘is this worth giving up my eternal salvation?’ Is that comment your ward member said to you worth giving up your eternal happiness? Is that look someone just gave you worth giving up the profound, indescribable blessings Heavenly Father has to give to you? Is it worth stopping yourself from returning to live with Him again? Is it worth your exaltation?

To all those that feel that they do not fit in, I tell you with confidence, that you’re wrong. To all those who are afraid to return because of past mistakes, I say, Come! To all those who sit there offended and holding yourselves back, I ask, is it still worth it?

This gospel is for you.


43 Comments

  1. Im proud of you. Thanks for your example and for your courage.
  2. Amazing story. Thanks for sharing it.
  3. look -- just remember 90% of everyone in or out of the church are idiots. You seem like a great person -- stay strong and ignore the haters! The tats won't keep you out of heaven (they are actually kind of cool)!
  4. Good for you!!! Enough of narrow-minded judgementalism already! But let's give the guy the benefit of the doubt and hope he was just making an observation (though better left unsaid) and not an indictment.
  5. I am so impressed with your story would love to here your continuing blessings, thank you for your story and the strength you have EVERY day.
  6. Interesting. About 10 years back, during an endowment session at the Oakland Temple, my wife and I were the witness couple at the altar. The officiator was a middle-aged Polynesian man, and in the web of his right hand, between the thumb and the next finger, was a small gang tattoo. Here was a Brother who had obviously turned his life around and come a long way. You need to be careful when you judge.
  7. Great article with many things to think about...so important for us not to judge others. As a convert of just over 40 years, my church membership is more valuable to me every day. This young woman has grasped that already and there will be a wonderful young man who will see her worth, fall in love with her and take her to the temple one of these days, I'm sure.
  8. Great article!! I am forwarding this to my "less active" daughter who has been offended by members, and is using it as an excuse to be "excused" from Heavenly Father's commandments which bring us hope & happiness. I am so happy for you and your new life. I would love to subscribe to your blog. How can I do that? Sincerely, Gregg Sheppard
  9. Good for you, Al!!! All of us are sinners and cannot "earn" our way back to Heavenly Father. We are all in the same boat called, "Reliance upon Him who is mighty to save, even Jesus Christ." It was our savior who said that when we judge another, there remains in us the greater sin. Keep shining! You're a great example to us all.
  10. My great grandfather had such a bad reputation in Provo (and he earned it) that when my grandfather went to church when he was 16 some little old ladies sniffed 'what are YOU doing here?' He ended up joining the Church 10 years later, but wow what a difference that could've made for my family. I always keep that example in mind when I run into somebody who doesn't appear to fit the stereotype. After all, God wants EVERYBODY, and none of us has any right to say Him nay based on our own stupid prejudices.
  11. thank you for reminding us that we are all God's children, no matter what our circumstances we should treat others as such and also how to be positive in a negative situation
  12. It was special the first time I heard her story and even more so now. The guy she is marrying must be special also. Heavenly Father knows how to move a soul!
  13. What a wonderful story. I sent it to my grand daughter that is going to serve a mission when she is 19...
  14. I am so proud and happy for her! What a great reminder to NOT JUDGE and to resist taking offense.
  15. This is really worth sharing and shows how important it is to wake up and smell the roses, no matter what your circumstances.
  16. Dear Al, you go girl!!!! I am so proud to call you sister! The Lord will bless you for you efforts. Think of the people out there who think their not good enough because of a tattoo. Your example gives me hope and gives me strength. Thank you for your example.
  17. What an amazing young woman. All too often I find myself on both sides of what she is talking about...either the offender or the offended. Thank you for this message.
  18. Al, I follow you on facebook. I have heard your story before. Thanks for sharing it again. My daughter who is 21 was treated unkindly yesterday in Relief Society. She handled it well on the outside and cried inside. I cry on both sides for her. Your story teaches 2 lessons. One of acceptance 1 of choosing God. thank you.
  19. We are here to love and not to judge others, something that we need to remember everyday. Look at ourselves and remember we may have a mote in our eye. Thank you for your courage.
  20. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for being vulnerable, and sharing that with me. I take this article personally, as if you were talking just to me. And, again, I thank you. Whether a person is newly converted, or has fallen away, and working their way back...as I am.... this article gives me more strength to face the fears of judgement, and discrimination. <3 Thank you.
  21. Sister Fox, I welcomed you into the fold of God with open arms and an open heart. You radiate the beauty of the gospel and continue to demonstrate a sincere desire to seek and obtain the riches that the restored gospel offers. How wonderful you will be joined eternally in matrimony! Please continue forward, dear friend, with faith and hope. You are a very special addition to the kingdom of God on earth. Sincerely, your brother in the gospel.
  22. Met and talked to Al at BYU Education week, a very charming and nice young lady. She will go far.
  23. A beautiful awakening for you. I'm so happy to have heard your story! May the Lord continue to bless you!
  24. Hi Al, Let me tell you that I think you are wonderful! You have done a courageous thing and I am positive that Heavenly Father and the Savior and the Holy Ghost are so proud of you and pleased with you that they just beam with heavenly love for you. I am a descendent of pioneers and still had to gain my own witness that this church is true, and yet through the years I and my family have been ostracized and shunned because we were poor (because I had a serious illness) and not counted as "real" as others also because I am also a divorced mother. There have been other problems we have had to go through, but I still know with all my heart that this is the most beautiful gospel on earth and is the way back to personal association with Deity for eternity. I find joy and peace in the gospel daily, and I cheer for you for holding onto your faith. You are wonderful - never let someone else make you think otherwise! You are loved.
  25. Congratulations, you are a true saint! I loved your presentation.
  26. Al has fit in because she is darn good looking woman. People over look her tattoos for not only her outer beauty but her inner beauty as well. She is a sweetheart.
  27. Bless her heart for sticking to her covenants. This is a perfect example of not judging. Heavenly Father knew what was in her heart, now we do too. What if every choice we made growing up (good and bad) was permanently visible to everyone. Would we speak at firesides? This (absolutely beautiful) young lady is so mature! Great story!!!
  28. I think you are a very worthy and courageous sister! Thanks for sharing your story. You are my sister in the gospel.
  29. I have followed her story from the time she appeared on the cover of "LDS Living". What a remarkable person! The gospel was made for people like Al Fox. It is really gratifying that she has found someone who will love and cherish her. She deserves it!
  30. A wonderful story! Following the Spirit is always best. And He does let us know what He wants us to do if we will just listen. I am very thankful for the Gospel and that my Father in Heaven loves me. I sure do love Him!
  31. I loved this blog and video! Now I know I will be so happy when I see someone in church or in the temple with tatoos.
  32. Well done Sister Fox - hope your wedding day is wonderful. Thanks for your example and wisdom.
  33. Thank you for following the path that was shown us by The Lord Jesus Christ when He was on earth. If only more of us would really just love and not judge, life would be much so much easier to live each day. To take offense is a very hard way to go through life but when we are not sure of the love our Heavenly Father has for us we can get lost in the things that are happening each day in the world. So, sweet dear little sister, keep following our Saviour and all will be well in the end. I have found that when we do that, we are the most happiest and blessed people on earth. Lots of love from me to you.
  34. I love this girl! but I am puzzled: why is Mark Albright's name on this piece? I can't find anything here that isn't from Al Fox!
  35. Thank you for your post. Oftentimes I feel totally feel singled out because I am different. I have a tattoo, just one, on my leg (just an itty bitty one) but I still get disgust looks from devout Mormons. What these people don't know, or even care to ask, is "why" I have the tattoo. I think it is sad that people judge you on your appearances and not on your character. I will continue to be me no matter how others view me with their temporal eyes. Again, thanks for the post. I am happy to read it and get to know a piece of your history.
  36. I love this story!!! Thank you so much for sharing and for being the sweet spirit that you are! You are an inspiration. :)
  37. Oh Sigh. (That's what I say when something is so special to me.) And hearing and seeing what the gospel has done for Al boosts my spirit by 1000%.
  38. You rock! You are beautiful!
  39. He wasn't being offensive at all. I think you missed the irony in his comment. Great article though otherwise!
  40. I lived in Salt Lake for two years while attending the U of U. I want to say this: for every judgmental Mormon you may meet, there are ten more who will love you and accept you for trying. I love you and I accept you, tattoos and all. I think you have courage and are an example to many others who seek to better their lives with the gospel. You go, girl. I'm on your side and I'm cheering you on! :-) By the way, my two daughters are temple-worthy women with children and great husbands. They are also covered with tattoos. They're a couple of great women!
  41. Loved this article and glad you didn't give up, we all have battle scars from living in this world some are on the outside some on the inside but we all have. Thank you for not giving up and being a pioneer for others who may feel out of place and hopefully after reading this we will realize that we are all Heavenly Fathers children no matter how we look :)
  42. It's the small victories that lead to winning the battle. Something - in different ways - that I'm working on most every day. Way to be strong.
  43. Wow such an inspirational story! Never judge a book by its cover or in this case a real soul and convert to the church whose heart is bigger than life. I had a rough patch in my life as well and have a few tats to show for it. I was brought back through the recovery addiction program. The Lord gave me a second chance. I have been sober for 23 years and my children have served missions and married in the temple. The Lord in due time will do that for too!

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