Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A House of Holiness

I have felt to write about several topics over the last few days, most of them forgotten once I sit down to write. This is something, however, that has stuck with me. It is a topic very close to my heart. I am aware that the internet is not always the best venue in which to share deeply spiritual things, as there are those who may read them who will mock them. Despite knowing this, I feel it important for me to share what I can of what I feel and know on this subject, despite feeling awkward and unwieldy in my words.

There is too much back story to share it all, but I'll share what I can. When I was fourteen, I had an experience which inspired me to want to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From fourteen to twenty, my future plans were centered around this event. For any reading who are not aware, before a man or woman serves a mission for the Church, they must receive what are called "endowments" in the temple of God. These endowments consist of additional covenants with the Lord, much like baptismal covenants. These covenants, again like baptism, help you become what you must become to follow Jesus Christ and return to our Father in Heaven. Typically, no one makes these covenants until they are preparing to either serve a mission for the Church or to be married for eternity. When I was nineteen, I felt a strong impression from the Spirit of God that I should go to the temple, despite being two years away from a mission and much longer than that from marriage.

I had heard many rumors about the temple, some of which were a bit unnerving. But I prayed and continued to feel the strong desire to go. My parents were against the notion. Although they were both members of the Church, they felt that I should wait until later, until a time more typical for this step. After months of praying, searching the scriptures and counseling with my bishop and stake president, I decided to go. This was a difficult decision. My father was stationed in Korea at the time and my mother was far enough away to make it impossible for either to attend. My only family members in attendance were my paternal grandparents and one of my mother's sisters.

Despite this, the entire experience was beautiful beyond description. There were parts I had not expected, but the session was filled with the most glorious power of the Spirit. I learned things I had read before, but never properly understood. I learned empowering things about who I am and who I could become. I learned about the work and glory of the Lord, and I covenanted to be a part of that great undertaking. I felt whole for the first time in my life. I felt that I was part of something, that I belonged.

It wasn't until much later that I learned that the temple experience was not that way for many. There are some who found the experience mundane or even physically hot and uncomfortable. There are some who find it to be simply a hoop to jump through in order to be a "perfect Mormon". There are some who are not comfortable with the promises made or the things said. One of my favorite companions was one of these. We were so much alike in many ways, but her first experience in the temple was downright panicky for her. We spent many hours during that six weeks talking about the temple and about our different perspectives. I think she felt better about things, understood them better, after our talks.

I understand that the temple is a thing of mystery and sometimes fear for many, but I know that it can be the most beautiful experience imaginable. I am grateful that I did not have to work for that first understanding of its power and beauty, but I am not exempt from the need to work for that understanding now. And it does take work for most of us. Even now, though my feelings of unity with God and His children are not guaranteed every time I go, I long to be in the temple. It is quiet there. It is home. Only in the temple can I truly step away from this life for awhile and obtain an eternal perspective. There I can feel the love of God more strongly than anywhere else. Whether you who read these words are an LDS member or not, study and learn about the temple in the hopes of eventually attending and strengthening your bond with God. In the end, it will be an experience unparalleled.

If you are curious about what you will do in the temple, I can tell you that everything you need to know is in the scriptures. If you read, pray and prepare, you will open yourself to understanding. D&C 38: 30-33
I tell you these things because of your prayers; wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear*.

And that ye might escape the power of the enemy, and be gathered unto me a righteous people, without spot and blameless—Wherefore, for this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the [temple]; and there I will give unto you my law; and there you shall be endowed with power from on high;

And from thence, whosoever I will shall go forth among all nations, and it shall be told them what they shall do; for I have a great work laid up in store, for Israel shall be saved, and I will lead them whithersoever I will, and no power shall stay my hand.

*Prepare yourself with prayer and by reading the scriptures - the Old and New Testaments, as well as the Book of Mormon - and you can be an even greater part of His great work: the salvation of His people.

1 comment :

  1. I'm so glad you decided to share your positive feelings about your first temple session. I had a similar prompting to make those temple covenants at age 20.

    My parents, however, supported me in that decision, even though they lived on the East coast, too far away to accompany me. I went with a group of returned missionaries in my BYU student ward.

    Your words express my sentiments so well: "the entire experience was beautiful beyond description. There were parts I had not expected, but the session was filled with the most glorious power of the Spirit."

    Since then, I have had many opportunities to attend the temple, and my understanding of, and appreciation for the endowment has greatly increased. I went on to serve a mission a year later, and eventually married in the temple six years later.

    However, more than 40 years after the event, I can still remember some of special moments of insight, joy, love and peace I felt that first day.

    Thank you for your sensitive description of what seems to have been for you, as it was for me, an extremely important milestone in our spiritual lives.


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