I have always loved the temple. I was a child when "I love to see the Temple" was a new primary song and the Jordan River temple was being built. I enjoyed watching my children as they soaked up the beauty and excitement of attending the Draper temple open house a few months ago. We are excited to attend the open house for the new temple next Saturday with a part-member family in our neighborhood.
I loved temples as a youth and young adult--their beauty inside and out, what they stand for, the feelings I had when I was able to go inside and do baptisms for the dead. I collected temples--decorative plates, photos, drawings, and even rubber stamps. I have fond memories of driving the 7 miles to the Manti Temple grounds with my roommates when I needed a break from studying for finals at Snow College. Watching the lit temple appear and grow in the distance as we drove toward it was truly awe-inspiring.
I dreamed of being married in the temple, and was so pleased to accomplish that goal. Scott and I were able to walk to and attend the Logan Temple frequently during our first year of marriage (and my last year at USU).
It was awesome to do baptisms for the dead with our daughter in the Nauvoo temple just a year ago.
The strongest message I have ever received--that it was right for me to leave my job as a full-time mother and take a job as a high school teacher--came in the Salt Lake Temple. I also attended the temple for inspiration to call my counselors in the Primary presidency.
I distinctly remember one year when Scott had a sister that was married in her in-laws' home and then a brother that was married in the Manti Temple about a month later. The difference between the marriages and the spirit that was there was amazing to me. I could not imagine settling for the non-temple marriage when the temple marriage was oh so much more.
This list could go on and on...
But in other ways, the temple has not always been for me what other people say it is for them. Church members bear testimony of the temple and how they are able to leave their troubles behind, a peaceful place for solace and escape. When I go to the temple, it gives me quiet time to think even more about my troubles. More time to worry about being away from my children, or not having time to get done everything I have to do. I often feel anxious about receiving an inspired answer to a question, trying to understand how true inspiration feels and how to know what God's message to me really is. I have anxiety around people I don't know, so frequently I feel a bit anxious in the temple. And one of my worst emotional experiences ever happened in the temple when I reflected on the recent affair of someone in my extended family, someone very close to me, and the severe nature of covenants they had broken regarding the law of chastity.
So I don't always look forward to going to the temple. I mostly do it because I am told that I should. I go in the hopes that maybe I will get another moment of clarity like the one when I took my teaching job. But mostly I get tired and bored, or if I really try to pay attention, frustrated. Part of the temple ceremony is the story of the creation. And no matter how hard I try to pray and understand, I just don't understand why God commands Adam and Eve not to partake of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil when it is actually necessary for them to do so to fulfill other commandments (like multiplying and replenishing the Earth) and to pave the way for the plan of salvation. Why give a commandment that you know will be broken, and in fact, has to be? It baffles me every time I sit through the presentation. And why is it Eve that partakes of the fruit first? Is it because she is less obedient? Or rather, is it because she is smarter and realizes that she cannot keep other commandments without breaking this one?
Likewise, how can I possibly keep the commandment from Christ himself to "Love one another" and "judge not lest ye be judged" without breaking the commandment to follow the Prophet? I am so confused.
Today I attended a Stake Women's conference, and the theme was Temples and how they are a shelter from the storm. When I first saw the theme on a poster and sitting on every table at lunch, I couldn't help but smirk and think briefly about the commercial from the National Organization for Marriage--oh no, a storm is coming! Run to the temples to protect yourself from the homosexuals!
Seriously, though, it was a momentary irreverent thought, and otherwise I understood the purpose of the theme and thought it was fine. After lunch, the first speaker talked about why we should go to temple and blessings we get from going to the temple. She had some great comments, my favorite being that the temple is a place where we can learn more about our Savior Jesus Christ so that we can try to be more like him. But the talk went on and on, and soon I started to tune her out.
Then a stake priesthood leader spoke. By this time, the meeting (on a Saturday afternoon, no less) had gone on long enough, and my attention span was spent. So I have to admit that I was not paying very good attention, not that I wasn't trying. I just was not capable. He said something about being careful to change what we do or say so that we do not offend people. He gave a hypothetical example of inviting neighbors over for a BBQ, neighbors that are maybe a little over-zealous on the word of wisdom, but leaving our Coke in the fridge instead of getting it out to have with dinner so as to not offend, even though it is our house and our right to drink and say what we want.
That sounded reasonable. I like the idea of trying to be non-judgemental and accepting of others, making consesions where needed to form friendships.
Then, I must have phased out, because the next thing I know, he is talking about church leaders. Here is how I remember it to the best of my ability...
"It is imperative that we follow. The leaders of the church might not be perfect. I'm not perfect, and the general authorities that I meet with on a regular basis are not perfect. We are all just men. But we are still required to follow. It is not our place to step ahead of the Brethren. That is what Lucifer did in the pre-existence. That is not following. Remember playing follow the leader as a child? You might have not always liked what the leader did, but to play the game, you had to follow the leader."
He read some quotes, one from Herald B. Lee that I have blogged about before. He continued...
"I believe in the last days that things are going to be so confusing and so heart-wrenching, that the only way we will be able to figure our what to do--the only way we will make it back to our Father in Heaven--is to follow. We have to learn how to follow now so that we will be able to continue following when it gets even harder and more confusing."
"Attending the temple can help us learn to follow..."
I was sick to my stomach. I sat in shock at the words I just heard from the mouth of one of my stake leaders. It suddenly reminded me of Abelard's post a while back about Hilter and the Nazis that followed him. Words of inspiration are supposed to feel peaceful and comforting. If it is right, you will know it in your heart and your mind...what does it mean when you feel sick and anguish, the world crashing down around you?
The closing prayer ended the meeting, and I went quickly to my car, drove home, walked in the house, and told Scott I was sick. Due to the flu in our house, he thought I meant I was coming down with it. I clarified in what way I was sick, and we left to the bedroom to talk. I explained the meeting and then burst into tears. I can't do it any more. Just when I think I am back on my feet where the church is concerned, this Stake leader compares me to Satan. I told Scott in a fit of emotional illness that I am done. We have to find a new ward or church to go to. I can't let them keep tearing me down.
I don't know that we are really going to--right now I am angry and confused and hurt. We have missed 2 weeks of church, at least one or two of us will be staying home again tomorrow due to the flu, Scott is being released from his calling, anyone off the street could do my calling. It is just too tempting to throw in the towel and find some happiness by worshiping God in the peace of our own home surrounded by our friends who love and understand and accept us.
We need to start that MoHo ward right away. When should we have our first meeting? :D
And when is this incessant rain going to stop? Don't get me wrong--I love the cool temperatures and the green plants, but it certainly doesn't feel like we live in Utah any more.
I need a shelter from the storm. Please help!