Following my mission, with all the decisions about education and career and family, I felt a consistent, deep need for heaven’s help. I turned to the temple often as a place of inspiration. At one point in my college career I lived just a couple blocks from the Logan temple. I could walk there in minutes and often did, even just to sit outside. The temple became a powerful source of strength. A relief. A refuge. A pavilion.
Sometime after moving to Arizona my connection to the House of the Lord grew increasingly weak. The decline was honest enough; we lived 45 minutes away, and with the arrival of each child and increasingly demanding callings and work assignments, it became more and more challenging to take the time to attend the temple.
For quite some time I felt comfortable that my approach to the temple was appropriate to my situation, but in recent months a nagging impression kept coming that the temple needed to regain priority in my life. At this point, any temple voyage had become a chore. Carving out the time, paying a babysitter or leaving my wife with four wild animals, and being so worn out when I finally got there that my body just wanted to sleep— the cost benefit ratio just didn’t seem to be in favor of the temple and hadn’t felt so for some time. I went periodically out of duty, but my attitude was not great and neither was my experience.
Yet the feeling persisted, and eventually grew compelling enough that I made a personal commitment to choose a specific time on a regular interval to serve and worship in the temple. That was a few months ago, and I’m pleased to report that I’ve consistently met that commitment since!
Here’s the exciting part. Once I made an active decision to set aside specific time for temple worship, once it became a priority again, the temple’s status as a place of inspiration and refuge instantly returned. I’m quite honestly amazed at how much I now anticipate attending the temple now. I love it. I savor a sacred time to feel peace, to calm my mind, to seek inspiration with all the stress and anxiety of daily life checked at the door. It has become an essential part of my life.
The power of the temple hasn’t changed through all this, but I have. It still requires concerted effort to take that regular temple time. But once I gave it proper priority, all those negative emotions dissipated and all the promised blessings returned. I'm grateful the Spirit was willing to push on me until I responded.
Of course the Prophets foretold my experience. Elder Richard G. Scott:
Because I love you, I am going to speak to you heart to heart, without mincing words. I have seen that many times individuals have made great sacrifices to go to a distant temple. But when a temple is built close by, within a short time, many do not visit it regularly. I have a suggestion: When a temple is conveniently nearby, small things may interrupt your plans to go to the temple. Set specific goals, considering your circumstances, of when you can and will participate in temple ordinances. Then do not allow anything to interfere with that plan. This pattern will guarantee that those who live in the shadow of a temple will be as blessed as are those who plan far ahead and make a long trip to the temple.
In the same talk, Elder Scott gave a list of suggestions. #7 and #9 have been especially helpful for me. What about you?
- Understand the doctrine related to temple ordinances, especially the significance of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
- While participating in temple ordinances, consider your relationship to Jesus Christ and His relationship to our Heavenly Father. This simple act will lead to greater understanding of the supernal nature of the temple ordinances.
- Always prayerfully express gratitude for the incomparable blessings that flow from temple ordinances. Live each day so as to give evidence to Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son of how very much those blessings mean to you.
- Schedule regular visits to the temple.
- Leave sufficient time to be unhurried within the temple walls.
- Rotate activities so that you can participate in all of the ordinances of the temple.
- Remove your watch when you enter a house of the Lord.
- Listen carefully to the presentation of each element of the ordinance with an open mind and heart.
- Be mindful of the individual for whom you are performing the vicarious ordinance. At times pray that he or she will recognize the vital importance of the ordinances and be worthy or prepare to be worthy to benefit from them.
- Recognize that much of the majesty of the sealing ordinance cannot be understood and remembered with one live experience. Substantial subsequent vicarious work permits one to understand much more of what is communicated in the live ordinances.
- Realize that a sealing ordinance is not enduring until after it is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. Both individuals must be worthy and want the sealing to be eternal.