The following was written by Irene Stone. To read the full article on This Week in Mormons, click here.
I have found peace in the temple. I have also been blessed in very personal ways by not only going to the temple, but because other people went to the temple in my behalf; I truly believe that those prayers gave me strength in difficult times of my life.
While I believe all these things to be true, we (as collective members of the church) have a tendency to talk about the temple in exclusively these terms. We often forget to acknowledge that it can take several visits to the temple for it to become a source of spiritual empowerment. Sometimes, people never get to that point (I hate to say it, but it’s true); and I think it’s because we gloss over this very important and very real sentence in the Temple Prep manual: “If you are going to the temple for the first time it is quite normal for you to be a little unsettled. We are naturally anxious about the unknown. We often become nervous over new experiences” (“Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple”).
So if you’re going through the temple for the first time, or you know someone that might need some encouragement to go back, here are some tips to have a good experience:
- Know firstand foremost that it is totally NORMAL to feel, as the Temple Prep course states, unsettled, nervous, or anxious. Because temple-talk is almost exclusively “an amazing experience,” “highly spiritual,” and “the place on Earth to feel closest to God,” when the first time through the temple isn’t met with those experiences, it can be quite a shock.As I’ve talked to people about this subject, there are multiple reactions to this: blaming ourselves, feeling guilty for not enjoying it, feeling uncomfortable and hesitant to return, etc. Many people I have talked to did not like their first temple experience. It can feel like you’re the only one in the room that doesn’t know what is going on. There is pressure not only to enjoy it, but to have some sort of deep experience there, and it is difficult those first few times because everything that is new can be a distraction. There are many things we can’t know about the temple ceremony before going, so the first few times it is intimidating and very foreign. Guess what. That’s okay.
- Consider receiving your endowment separate from wedding and/or mission events. This next tip is based purely on anecdotal evidence. Talk to more people about this – I don’t know what any official rule says about this practice, or if there is any. Some people (mostly women) tend to get their endowments in conjunction with their wedding – not all, but some. While it is surely a wonderful experience to have your soon-to-be husband more heavily involved in your endowment, I also think it’s advantageous to go to the temple for yourself and not just because of impending nuptials.This is certainly not the best option for everyone, but if your ecclesiastical leader allows, it should at least be considered. Even though one must first be endowed to be sealed to their spouse, the endowment is completely separate from a sealing. It is your own personal commitment to Heavenly Father, having nothing (directly) to do with your commitment to your spouse. (While there may be some argument there, I’m trying to say that you don’t NEED to have a spouse to take on the covenants during the endowment.)Several people that I’ve talked to said that they wished they had had more time before their wedding to get used to the endowment session. There is so much going on those few weeks before a wedding that adding all this new stuff at the temple (that is extremely personal and really important to your relationship with God) deserves some special time, separate from all the distractions a wedding can present.Likewise, for prospective full-time missionaries, don’t treat the temple as another checklist item before you head out into the mission field. Your first time through the temple is so easily reduced to something that needs “getting done,” akin to a visit to Mr. Mac. So when you get your call, get to the temple early and spend your interim months attending and learning.
To read the full article on This Week in Mormons, click here.