Since the first time missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints exposed me to the teachings of modern day temples, my soul was hooked. It was like a magnetic pull that drew me to participate in proxy baptisms for the dead. The spiritual experiences I obtained in the baptistery firmly confirmed to me there is a God who intimately cares about each individual soul and His presence can be felt inside the temple. Despite my love for the temple, natural disasters made the road to participating in my own endowment windy and full of hurdles. The only reason I made it through the front doors of the temple was because my spirit knew the way and I was supported by an exemplary, small, loving congregation.
I strive to be a woman of my word, so when it comes to making covenants with God, I hold them with high regard. In my preparation, I heard other’s Endowment ceremony described as “one of the happiest days of my life.” The goal of this narrative is for anyone who feels discomfort while inside the temple, to not suffer from the reality of their experience not fitting into the ideal of immense joy and overwhelming peace. It is okay to be overwhelmed with emotion in the temple, emotions of any kind. The temple can be a tough place to be as mortal and limited souls (“the spirit and the body are the soul of man” Doctrine & Covenants 88:15) try to operate on a Celestial plane. The experience within the temple is familiar to our spirit and intelligence who had a pre-existence in the presence of God, but is brand new to our bodies and brains.
Throughout my debut endowment ceremony, both my body and mind were entirely overwhelmed in an experience of turmoil. I left the temple that day bewildered and in tears. How could this be the House of the Lord if I do not feel peace, safety, security within the walls? Was this ordinance not of God? Or even worse, had my brain fabricated my past spiritual encounters and the temple had no validity at all? In a shaken state of confusion and fear, I would say the day of my Endowment was the opposite of “one of the happiest days of my life.” This was the catalyst of two months of my deepest confusion.
I was visiting my grandmother in the months following my Endowment. She insisted I should visit the local, historical sites of my religion. I hesitantly agreed, not wanting to confess my faith crisis. Our visit was a powerful day. As my grandma waited patiently in the car, I walked up to the local temple. I sat down alone in the small waiting area where I meditated on some deep doubts weighing on my heart. I needed to know if the presence of God was truly within these walls and if the church was leading me astray. God was there. I could once again hear His voice and became swaddled in His love and presence. I did not receive all the answers that day, but just enough reassurance to not turn my back on the gospel or deny my previous experiences as truth.
Then God blessed me with an angel. Within my initial encounter with Madi, we became temple accountability buddies. Suddenly, I was faced with a temple appointment and not wanting to disappoint her smiling face, I went. Every week. And it was hard. Every week. My anxiety-ridden brain and exhausted body did not want to go. Again, the only reason I made it through the front doors of the temple was because my spirit knew the way and I was supported by an exemplary, dedicated, loving friend. It took dedication of time for my body and mind to become comfortable within the Endowment ordinance. However, when I found that comfort, I realized my Spirit and intelligence had been learning and growing the entire time. When my spirit and body learned to operate as one in this Celestial sphere, I felt true the power of my soul in action. I became able to truly call upon the priesthood that I was endowed with.
Never should we doubt, diminish, or demean the journey of mortal beings learning how to perform eternal ordinances. For some, it comes more naturally and quickly. For others, it takes more time to settle into the spiritual realm of our Heavenly Parents. For all, it is a lifelong journey in and outside of the temple walls. The temple is a living and breathing experience. It is the embodiment of change. It is where we learn how to behave as spiritual beings living an earthly experience. Change and growth is not always comfortable, pretty, or easily summed up into a nice story.
Faith is acting without fully knowing. Sometimes, we have to let our spirits lead the way when our mortal reasoning fails. Today, the temple is my home. I feel like my true, divine self when I am surrounded by the love and support of my ancestors and commune with my Savior, my Heavenly Father, and my Heavenly Mother. I would not trade the gospel that opened the avenue to such sacred worship. Just as the Divine does not judge my journey to this home or hold back any of it’s blessings from me because of my doubt, we should not judge or punish ourselves or others. “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (Doctrine & Covenants 18:10). Let us show compassion to each soul that takes strides towards divinity. All journeys home are acceptable to the Lord.