The Truth About Mormon Temples & What to Expect When Going
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November 2, 2012, I went to the the Provo Temple and got endowed. It wasn't because I was going on a mission, and it wasn't because I was getting married, (not saying those aren't awesome and just as important reasons, just as long as you're going for you and for the right reasons). I went because I wanted to go on my own, I went because I wanted to be closer to God and strengthen my relationship with Him. I loved it so much that two weeks later, I became an ordinance worker there! (And later worked in the Jordan River Temple, too). I honestly don't know what I'd do without it. But there are plenty of those who have not yet been and have questions about it. Here are my responses:
'What if I'm really nervous to go? And but Al, isn't the temple a little weird the first time you go?' Let me just shake you now and yell, 'No!' You're going to the Lord's house, don't be nervous. It is filled with nothing but the spirit. When people speak to those who haven't gone to the temple yet, I think they focused too much on the whole 'it's so different' phrase that it unnecessarily freaks people out for no reason. Don't get freaked out. It's different in a sense that we don't do this in church, and not in a freaky way, haha. You'll be surprised at how comfortable you are there and how strongly you will feel a familiarity with everything, and you will feel that it is in fact the Lords literal house, and He does walk those hallways, and He does know every time you are there and you can feel it. If things don't make sense to you the first time, is that not just more of a witness that it is not from man? Don't get confused or discouraged, take confidence knowing that spiritual things come directly from God, not man, and will be new, but oh so exciting!
'What about garments?' Right after I got baptized, on P-day, I played a ball game at the church with the missionaries. I had no idea what they were at the time, but I noticed everyone wearing them, even the sisters. I had no idea they were tied to the temple, no one ever mentioned them to me yet, yet for some reason, when I saw them I immediately wanted them. For some reason, when I saw them I thought 'protection.' For years, going to the temple was my top priority, I wanted it so badly, and I wanted to wear garments so badly, (I might be the only one). When the time came and I got to put them on, I was so excited I flung open my dressing room door (note: dressing room door, for those that were wondering) in only my garments, in front of three 80-ish year old temple workers and started to do a dance, I am not kidding. Could you imagine the temple workers' faces when I did that? Haha. They aren't ugly, they aren't weird, they aren't uncomfortable, and the promises that are tied to them, are my favorite promises from the temple (if I am allowed to pick favorites, haha). The only negative thoughts on garments, and I mean this in the nicest, non offensive way possible, are tied to prideful and selfish reasons. Here's the deal, temple garments are the only tangible thing you can take with you from the temple and I feel truly spoiled I can always have that with me.
'What if I'm afraid of making more promises to God?' Good. Keep it that way, because then you will always be conscious to live the right way, haha, but don't let it stop you from going and making them. The promises you make in the temple are nothing you can't do, and truth be told, it is nothing you wouldn't be already willing to do had you known what they were before you went.
'How do I know when the right time to go is?' I'll be honest and tell you how much I hated this question. If I had it my way, I would have got endowed a month after I got baptized. I thought about the temple literally everyday, and it was my top priority. Just over my year anniversary I went to talk about it with my bishop to see if it was something that I could do. His answer devastated me. "Al, I know you are ready, and there isn't anything you can be doing that you aren't already doing, but it is just not time yet." Stab to the heart. I hated that I was ready and it just wasn't time yet. I visited my bishop I think every month asking if the Lord had changed his mind yet and it had became time to go. It wasn't until a month after my 3-year baptism anniversary, just barely 24 yrs old, that it changed. Despite my great desire to go, it wasn't until then that I was waiting to do baptisms that I felt that I didn't belong there. Not that I didn't belong in the temple, but that I didn't belong in that section anymore. I went to speak to my bishop and a week and a half later I got endowed. If you are like me and are seeking to go without a mission or marriage, His timing truly is best, even if it is devastating. Also, the spirit often speaks to us with reoccurring thoughts. If this is something that keeps coming to your mind to do, it is definitely time to start taking that thought seriously. Don't let your age or anything else discourage you. It is between you, your bishop, and the Lord when it is best. In my opinion the best way to prepare to go to the temple is to prepare and be ready and willing to accept everything you will about to experience. When you get to the point knowing that the temple is the House of the Lord, and whatever you do, and whatever you will hear, it is of God, then you are ready. A lot of you will go to the temple because you 'have' to go, and you don't really get to pick when, because of mission—get excited!
'How to best prepare to go to the temple.' Sure there are tons of scriptures you can probably read, but to be honest, those scriptures that are related to the temple didn't make much sense to me until after I already went to the temple and then read them. Even now, every time I read in any addition of scriptures, from all parts of the bible to Doctrine and Covenants, I am surprised how much the temple is laced in. The best way to prepare is to strengthen your testimony. The stronger your testimony is, the more ready you will be, the more understanding and accepting and receptive you are to spiritual things and things of God, simple as that.
'Marriage and the temple.'
Getting sealed is the last ordinance there is, which says a lot about the importance of family to God, (best for last, for sure). I would recommend going to get endowed as early as you are allowed, which I think is 2 weeks before your sealing date, so you can really focus on the ordinances and covenants without the whirlwind of everything that goes into a wedding. Try to go as often as you can before your wedding day to better understand what promises you made, and to build that experience and relationship and habit with your soon-to-be spouse. I would definitely recommend doing sealings with your fiancé with temple names before your own sealing. Often times, the first time you do sealings is when it is your own, and 99% of you don't remember what was said. These promises are absolutely incredible, and it is the perfect way to know what you and your spouse will receive and have together as a companionship. Most of us love the idea of "forever families" because it sounds romantic. But it's not just there to be cute. It's essential. Because we aren't just sealed to our spouse, we're sealed to Christ. If this is something you can't do beforehand for whatever reason, go back as soon as you are back from your honeymoon, if not before or during it.
'What I feel like I'm not getting anything out of the temple like I used to?'
I heard an awesome response from a guy brought up the fact that he's been to the temple often enough that he was concerned he had become too comfortable there. But then he added how that was a great thing! To have gone often enough to feel like he is home when he is there, because it is. It is literally a piece of heaven here on earth, and should consume us with those feelings of comfort and love and ease. Also, a reminder that, although we may not learn something new when going to the temple, not to overlook the promise that just by going, we leave completely surround by extra power and protection to handle whatever it is that's going on in life.
'Tattoos and the Temple.'
I often hear, "but Al, I heard you can't go to the temple with tattoos." I hope this whole article answered your question. The temple has blessed literally every aspect of my life. I don't know what I'd do without the Temple. It's home. Don't be afraid, fear is not of God. Relax, you're going to the House of the Lord. Go. And go often. Go to feel and don't worry about understanding everything the first time you go. Making and keeping covenants opens the gate to an outpouring of blessings. Never should it be viewed as a burden or approached apprehensively. Rather, sought after and embraced with joy and excitement to be able to partake more fully and receive the greatest things ever created. Not just in the eternities, but here, daily, in mortality. I don't think I can write anything that I didn't already say in my personal favorite video of mine that I did. Watch my 'Mormon Temples:'
David O. McKay, in response to temple covenants: “Brethren, I think I am finally beginning to understand.’ Here he was, the prophet—an Apostle for over half a century and even then he was learning, he was growing.” Go often. Go seeking. Go listening. But most importantly, just go.
xox AL :)
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