Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My First Temple Experience

I hesitate to post this--But I wanted to share with others who have maybe had a similar experience or are preparing to go for the first time. The temple is the house of God and covenants are our way back to Him--people usually have pretty strong reactions their first time through, and this is how it went for me..



Before I went to the temple I was writing in my journal about how I had anticipated this day for years. This day would be a culmination of all the choices I have made in my life up until this point and I was so excited for this experience.

After the ceremony as I sat in the celestial room with my parents--my dad helped me realize I have been waiting much, MUCH longer than 24 years for this day to come. This day was eternally significant for me. It's very possible that I have looked forward to this day for maybe eons of time.

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The initiatory was such an incredible experience. I felt love and peace, and cleanliness. I felt like my Heavenly Father was very aware of me and very pleased with my decision to be there. It actually felt  a lot like my baptism day. What beautiful blessings and promises. 

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As I sat in the ordinance room and the session started I was GIDDY to finally be there and finally be witnessing the things I had only heard/speculated/dreamed about up until this point in my life. I was eager to pick up on all these new profound/earth-shattering insights and my mind was racing the entire time.  So much so, that I kind of missed the bigger picture because I was so focused in on the details... 

When we got to the end of the session I had trouble trying to put everything that had just happened in context with everything else I know about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For example, on my baptismal day--I knew exactly what I was doing and why I was doing it. I needed to be baptized to enter the gate back to eternal life with my Father in Heaven. I needed to be baptized so I could be cleansed from my sins and become a member of the Lord's church. With my baptismal covenant I had a clear idea of the cause-and-effect relationship of what I was doing and how it fit into my framework of the gospel, and I understood. 

After my endowment I did not feel that way. I felt disoriented and confused and a little unsettled by some of the symbolism that was so foreign to me. I got distracted. I knew ahead of time what I would be covenanting that day and I was excited to do so. I was excited to whole-heartedly commit my life to the Lord and the gospel I love. I was not scared of the covenants I was making. But at the end of the session I was scared about the feelings I had had (or lack of feelings I was expecting to have) I was trying to piece it all together but I felt totally lost--it was so much to take in and I felt like I wasn't getting it or that maybe I'd missed it all together.
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 Boyd K Packer has said, "As members of the church, can you be happy, can you be redeemed, can you be exalted without them? (speaking of temple ordinances) Answer: They are more than advisable or desirable, or even than necessary. More even than essential or vital. They are crucial for each of us" 

With baptism, I understood exactly how and why it was crucial--But at the end of my first session in the temple I wasn't connecting the dots at all. How had what I'd just done affected my eternal progression and why? Where was the Savior in all I had just done? In everything I had read and studied leading up to this day in the temple I knew that what I had just done was MONUMENTAL in my life...but sitting in the Celestial Room after I didn't really understand why. I felt disappointed that I didn't understand--disappointed that I didn't feel and experience what I thought I would feel and experience. Had I not prepared well enough?  It was a whirlwind of information and ceremony and symbolism and I was just desperately trying to get my bearings. Honestly, with so much build up leading up to it, I felt kind of heartbroken at the disappointment. 

The next morning I read a list of scriptures Sean had put together, and I reread Elder Packer's pamphlet on the temple, and as I talked to people about my experience throughout the following few days I started to settle down a little and feel a little more at ease when I realized many others had been in my shoes and had felt what I felt.  Elder Packer said:

 "The temple ceremony will not be fully understood at first experience. It will only be partly understood. Return again and again. Return to learn. Things that have troubled you or things that have been puzzling or things that have been mysterious will become known to you. Many of them will be the quiet, personal things that you really cannot explain to anyone else. But to you they are things known. What we gain from the temple will depend to a large degree on what we take to the temple in the way of humility and reverence and a desire to learn. If we are teachable we will be taught by the Spirit, in the temple."

That statement from President Packer helped put my heart at ease. I am excited to return to learn. I am excited for a lifetime of learning. I think it's true that for some people, their first time in the temple is an earth-shattering, mind blowing, life-altering experience. But as I look back on my life and try to identify patterns of gospel learning--that's never how it's been for me. I learn line upon line, precept upon precept...so it is with the temple. As I'm patient/faithful and return again and again, those earth-shattering, life-altering moments will come, right? The best moments in my life have been moments in the Spirit, and I'm excited for more to come inside the Lord's House.

Anyone who wants to learn more about temple should check out here, here, or here! :)

1 comment:

Landon Southwick said...

You are awesome Christy! That was amazing! We will have to go to a session together when I get back from Hawaii in December.