Jan 7, 2014

My Journey to the Temple

Saturday morning was one of the biggest moments of my entire life, for on that day I went through the Lubbock Texas Temple(1) to receive my own endowment(2).  I've been trying to write this blog for a few days now, but I find myself at a loss as to how to put what I experienced and felt that day into a coherent post.  I'm still unable to find adequate enough phrasing, but I think the words just don't exist to describe the sheer joy, peace, happiness, safety, light, and glory of the House of the Lord(3).

Me standing in front of the Lubbock Texas Temple
I've had the temple in my sights my entire life, although there was a period of time in my young adulthood, my personal dark age if you will, where I found myself focused on worldly pursuits instead of celestial aspirations.  Saturday was the culmination of years of spiritual preparation through hard work and a lifetime of anticipation.

My journey to the temple became an actualization the day I put God first in my life.  All the issues I went through during my "dark age" were due to disordered priorities.  I was unhappy, depressed, and plainly felt like a bad person all the time.  I was filled with a poisonous guilt that was affecting every aspect of my life.  This rancid guilt had me feeling like it was too late for me; that I had ruined not only my temporal life, but my eternal one as well and I could never recover.  Looking back, I see now that guilt was from the Adversary for it was holding me back and preventing me from moving forward

During this time I had the world's best Visiting Teachers(4), Cambria and Jenn.  Faithfully they visited me every single month--even though I was resistant at first.  Their visits were a welcome light within all the darkness I had put myself.  They weren't pushy about attending church at all.  Instead, they befriended me and made me feel, finally, that there were people who cared about me.  I can't describe what this meant to me.  They were the answer to my prayers and remain, to this day, a blessing in my life.

This summer, the missionaries(5) began stopping by to check in on me and to share gospel messages.  I still wasn't attending church, but their visits were a pleasure as well for they also brought light and peace with them.  During one of these visits, the Elders felt inspired to share a scripture that, quite literally, changed my life.

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.  He who seeketh to save his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 10: 37-39)

In this scripture, the Savior is outlining what our priorities should be.  He should come first, above family to include spouse, parents, and children.  Once the missionaries shared this scripture with me, I knew I had to correct my priorities and put the Savior first.  And once I did that, everything fell into place.  Light and happiness returned to my life.  I became a much more positive person and I felt like a good person once again.  I still have difficult trials, but they are much more easily borne and conquered for I now know that I am doing what I should be doing.

I knew there were many things I needed to change in my life--things I needed to start doing again, things I needed to stop doing, and things I needed to truly repent of.  I met with my bishop(5) and he helped me figure out what I needed to do to get my life in sync with what my Father in Heaven would have me do.  He then signed me up for the upcoming temple preparation class(6) and encouraged me to make temple attendance a priority.

I had undergone a true change of heart.  I so utterly changed that prior temptations weren't effective on me anymore.  I had and still have no desire to participate in activities that had led me and trapped me in spiritual darkness.  Instead, I filled my life with heartfelt prayer, personal and family scripture study, family home evenings, and sincere repentance.  I learned that if I'm not actively moving forward toward my Savior and Heavenly Father, then I am moving backward toward Satan.  I will not move toward the darkness again.

Upon completion of my temple preparation class, I had a temple recommend(7) interview with my bishop.  Here, he asked me questions to ensure I was ready to attend the temple, essentially to make sure I was keeping the commandments and had a testimony in Jesus Christ and His church.  At the end of the interview, he found me worthy to receive my recommend!  The next step was to meet with my Stake President(8) for my final interview.  This one was very similar as my interview with the bishop and I was, once again, found worthy!  I now have an active temple recommend!  There are two separate interviews by two different people "that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established" (Matthew 18:16).

Once I had my recommend, I felt there was no need to put off receiving my saving ordinances(9), so two days later I found myself at the temple, finally.  And yet again, there are no words to describe my experience.  Writing this post is taking a lot out of me as I relive that spiritual high from the temple.  It was pure, focused light, peace, joy, happiness, love, charity, and safety from the world.  There, I was able to really pray without distraction.  There, I was able to feel my mother's presence around me and her joy in my achievement.  She is proud of me.  There, I learned in greater detail about the purpose of this life and about God's work, "For behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39).  There, I was able to ensure my eternal salvation as long as I endure to the end.  My experience was incredible, powerful, enlightening.  I want to go back again and again.

Many of my friends came out to support me.  From left: Me, Cambria, Angella, Meichelle, Blake, Susie

My family, from left: Tommy, Ken, Joan, my dad Corian, Me, Danny, Bobby

From left: Danny, Linzy, Me, Kenneth, Lexi, Bobby, Tommy, Christina, Jeff
So many of my friends and family joined me at the temple.  Their love and support for me on this day were nearly tangible. I'm so grateful for the close ties I have with all of them:  my dad, my brothers (Danny, Bobby, Tommy), my escort and her family (Joan, Ken, Kenneth, Christina), my bishop and his wife/my temple prep teacher (Brad and Debbie), my visiting teachers (Cambria and Jenn), my Relief Society president (Angella), and all my friends (Rachel, Liz, Scott, Meichelle, Blake, Susie, Linzy).  I will never forget they were there for me on this life-changing day.  I also felt an outpouring of love and support from my best friends who were not able to attend, mainly Jenna, Molly, Erika, Sandee, and many others.  I am blessed indeed to have them all in my life.

Me and Susie right after my session.
My family with me in front of the temple
The temple is where heaven meets earth, and the peace therein is indescribable.  As I made covenants with my Heavenly Father and received blessings, I knew that is exactly where He would have me be.  I am doing what I'm supposed to be doing.  I am a good person.  And I am happy.  No matter what life will throw at me from this day forward, I know I am endowed with the power and protection to overcome it and that I can return to live with my Father in Heaven again.

1) Temple: A building dedicate to be the house of the Lord where sacred work and learning are performed.
2) Endowment: A gift of power from God and includes instruction about the plan of salvation.
3) House of the Lord:  Another name for the temple
4) Visiting Teachers: Women assigned to watch over and help specific women in the church.
5) Bishop: The head of a ward (a congregation).
6) Temple Preparation Class: A class held during church to help prepare patrons for their first temple experience.
7) Temple Recommend: Authorizes members baptized for at least one year to take part in all temple ordinances.
8) Stake President: The head of a stake (a group of wards within the same geographic area).
9) Saving Ordinances:A sacred, formal act performed by the authority of the Priesthood (10) that are essential to our exaltation.

For more information, or for more definitions, please visit www.lds.org or www.mormon.org.

4 comments:

  1. Im glad you were able to write this about your journey. I still have not journaled my experience.

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    1. It's hard to put an experience like this into words. This was my fourth time trying to put into words my experience. I had to stop and pray for guidance. Then, I threw my outline out and wrote from the spirit. The words seemed to pour out from my heart and I ended up with a post that was nothing near what I intended to write. It was better. I look forward to reading yours when you do journal, if it's alright with you. Do you have a blog?

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  2. Beautifully written, Rachel. I'm so happy for you. So sorry we missed being there. Jaclyn and Gavin's plane left that morning. Perhaps we can attend together another time. Your Mom is watching over you and is so happy and proud of you!

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