Today (and every day) I am grateful that after twenty-plus years of wandering away from what I knew to be true, I let go of my pride, followed my heart, and landed straight back with my LDS faith. Last week I entered the temple for the first time with my family and friends to take out my endowments. I am now officially a wearer of temple garments and it feels grrreat! All I could think the whole time was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful and yet again, wonderful.
When I first came back to church, the temple was on my mind constantly, the glowing beauty on nearly every horizon of the Salt Lake Valley seemed to call to me wherever I could see it. But I had not followed the law of chastity for the last twenty years, I was still drinking and had only quit smoking in the not-so-distant past, I was drinking tea and coffee religiously, not to mention the idea of tithing and garments?! How would someone like me ever muster up the strength to overcome my addictions, my shortcomings, and manage to get there?
If you are considering going to the temple for the first time, I know how daunting it can seem. But the process is simple. In the words of Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Lattet-Day Saints, “We must learn that in the Lord’s plan, our understanding comes “line upon line, precept upon precept.” 6 In short, knowledge and understanding come at the price of patience.” I did what I could, with a steadfastness in Christ, I listened to what the spirit was prompting me to do, and made changes in my life little by little. I started going to church. I prayed morning and night. I decided to read the Book of Mormon in it’s entirety for my very first time. After that, my life continued on, filled with challenges as always. Only now I had the spirit with me and blessings started pouring out.
I started back at school, I found this class which lead me to creating this blog and sharing my story, my sister whom I had been praying for moved back in with my mother and I in search of help, I have been allowed to be by her side to grow and learn with her, my family ties have been re-invigorated and strengthened through our faith in the plan of salvation and our love for one-another, I have made new friends who inspire and uplift me, I have been given opportunities to inspire and uplift others around me, with the help of my bishop I received my temple recommend, I received my Patriarchal Blessing, I have been called as a Ward Missionary, and I am ready to enter the temple. The list keeps growing, my mind keeps expanding, and my testimony grows and grows with each passing day, each trial, and each triumph.
In the early weeks of my return back to church, as I was testing the waters with the active members of my family, looking for guidance and support, my nephew Connor, a recently-returned missionary, told me I should listen to this talk given by Brother Brad Wilcox. I have since returned to it over and over. His words are so encouraging and have given me the hope and motivation to press forward.
Ever since I received my temple recommend back in September, my family and I have been meeting (almost) every week to review the Temple Prep Classes. If you are preparing to enter the temple, I highly recommend taking the classes, and (if you are able) I would recommend doing them with your family. It has been such a blessing for us to gather and discuss things like the plan of salvation, the importance of temple work, the importance of the use of symbols in teaching, the purpose of temple garments, etc. It has been a great testimony builder, and a source of strength and power for me and my family to gather and intimately share our beliefs, experiences, hopes, challenges, and most of all our testimonies has been a treasure beyond measure.
Another thing I highly recommend is reading a post by a fellow blogger entitled “The Truth About Mormon Temples, and What to Expect When Going”. This post gave me hope and helped to relieve any residual anxiety I had about getting there and how my life would change after I went. This post completely changed my perspective on temple garments (women you need to read this!) Her attitude and enthusiasm towards garments (something that seems like such a hard concession to make, especially when women are told by the fashion industry to dress a certain way. But I have learned that there is such freedom in dressing modestly, and
How wonderful and perfect is God’s plan for each and every one of us? If it weren’t for the gospel, I would not be where I am today. If it weren’t for the requirements to enter the temple, I wouldn’t be making the progress I have made in my life in order to get there. I can not wait for the next growth spurt that will come after I go. To quote my sister Annie, the temple is a place where all are welcome. Elder Russel M. Nelson advises that, “No one is denied access so long as they are Our Redeemer requires that His temples be protected from desecration. No unclean thing may enter His hallowed house. 11 Yet anyone is welcome who prepares well.”
I am living proof of this and I am so grateful for all the wonderful blessings, wisdom and experiences I have gained just by preparing myself to go.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.