Monday, April 11, 2016

The power of weekly temple attendance

When possible, weekly temple attendance can give you the spiritual foundation and eternal perspective to face life's toughest challenges.

In late 2013, I got a prompting from the Holy Ghost. I should attend the temple more often. I lived in Provo, Utah, the temple was a ten minute drive from my house. I was busy mother of three small children, and had a husband who had a demanding schedule. I was currently going once or twice a month, and before we had children we used to go weekly to the temple, but in the current stage of our lives I couldn't imagine where the time would come from for me to attend more often. The answer was: get up earlier. It didn't make sense to me, my baby was only two months old (and I was sleep deprived and "not a morning person"), yet I felt the need to start going to the temple at 5am on Monday mornings.

I loved my time at the temple. I didn't always make it every week, but I tried, and it was a habit of mine for many months before we moved from there. It was such a special, special time for me, and I want to make sure I remember it, so I am recording it here.

The respite of the temple in early morning hours
In the early months, I would get up to feed Ephraim at 4am or so, and then get dressed and ready to go to the temple. The entire house was quiet, the whole town was quiet. I would drive in the cold and dark, one of the few to arrive to the temple so early.

The world is a different place at 5am. The quiet is overwhelming, the darkness engulfs you. Even the air seems to stand still, waiting for the world to wake up. I still look back on those quiet morning hours, now a few years later, with fondness.

The temple was so peaceful in those morning hours, it gave new meaning to the word "respite" and what that could mean from a temple experience. There was very little waiting involved, no crowds, no hurrying home to the babysitter. I would sit and be fed by the word of God for two hours, and then return home just as the sun was rising. One morning a thought struck me: it's interesting how many people are willing to sacrifice sleep to exercise in the early morning hours, and with great consistency will do so. However, starting our Monday mornings with the temple is not usually something we consider.

Creating a spiritual foundation
Looking back on that time now, it was a really special, sacred time in my life. Attending the temple every week gave me a chance to start taking the truths I learned in that holy place and making them a part of my daily life. Even still, to this day, when I participate in an endowment session, certain phrases, even the music, will transport back to those early morning hours in the Lord's house, and refresh in my mind something I learned for the very first time from those weekly sessions. I have a different, deeper understanding of the Lord's doctrine learned in the temple because I have this foundation of weekly attendance in my history. Sometimes when we start a good spiritual habit, we get overly concerned with making it sustainable or constant... but increased spiritual effort, no matter how long you sustain it, will always be met with increased blessings.

There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. -Doctrine & Covenants 130:20-21

Truth has become so much more black-and-white for me now. I am more able to discern what is good and what is evil. I am able to notice subtle tactics of Satan that I was before unaware of. Most of this I attribute to being fed weekly both visually and spiritually what it looks like to defeat Satan, a special privilege of those who listen in the temple.

A periodic review of the covenants we have made with the Lord will help us with our priorities and with balance in our lives. This review will help us see where we need to repent and change our lives to ensure that we are worthy of the promises that accompany our covenants and sacred ordinances. Working out our own salvation requires good planning and a deliberate, valiant effort. -Elder M. Russell Ballard

An eternal perspective
One of the gifts of the temple is to lift your sights to a higher plane, to give you an eternal perspective that you cannot find anywhere else. When you choose to participate in weekly temple attendance, you are blessed to remember in your daily life where you came from, what you are here to do, and where you are going. That kind of perspective will change your daily actions, and fortify you when you are unhappy or life's challenges start to weigh you down.

It elevates us beyond limits of our own perspective and power. It is like the difference between plodding through a muddy field and soaring through the skies in a supersonic jet. --President Russell M. Nelson

Each Monday morning I would come home beaming. God's truth was implanted on my heart, and with a different perspective that lifted my sights throughout the week. "Life" began again, and with my tiny tiny kids and it was always a whirlwind, so much screaming and crying, in my memory, but I had had those quiet moments to connect with God each week that I deeply cherished.

By Sunday night, I was very ready to go back again, ready to again have those truths constantly on my mind, guiding my every thought. And each Monday when I would come home from the temple, I had a new resolve to live righteously, and keep my covenants.

We no longer have a situation where the temple is so close (or one that has 5am sessions!), but my "stint" with weekly attendance has changed what the temple means to me. It's no longer a "to do" checklist item, but something my soul needs, and a sacred privilege to connect with God in His house, to be taught from on High and be strengthened against discouragement. I am truly blessed to be able to attend the temple. I show my gratitude for this gift from my Heavenly Father by making time to be in His house often.

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