July 2011 Visiting Teaching Message: Come to the Temple and Claim Your Blessings

Have you ever been to the temple and had a negative experience? I have. Have you ever attended a temple session with someone who was taking out their endowments for the first time and was so upset by it that they left church activity? I have. Do you know anyone who doesn’t have the time, money or just plain doesn’t like the temple? I do. So, rather than offering a recitation of promised temple blessings, I am going to start this month’s temple-themed visiting teaching message by reminiscing:

A very dear friend was talking out her endowments for the first time, and I was one of a very select few she invited to attend (read as: only family, her fiancé and me). The session went simply and silently; I was one of the last to enter the celestial room after. In the pale, clean and crystal-laden celestial room it was immediately clear that she was angry. Very angry. Her family had physically distanced themselves and she stood on her own. Her grandmother told me that as a temple worker, she had “seen that look” before, and was very concerned. She was waiting for my friend to bolt. Some family members tried to speak to her, but she shooed them away. After some time, her heroic fiancé told her that he would always love her, and she could have out- out of the wedding, out of the temple, just out—and he would support her. I had nothing monumental to offer, so…

I made a silly comment about hats.

After we both became so loud with laughter that she was telling me to be quiet, she whispered her issue: “I wanted to understand it, but I don’t.” She thought that she was supposed to understand everything there all at once. And a lot of it didn’t make sense. Why the layers? Why these ordinances? Why the ritual? Why the symbolism? Why… !?!

Well, lets talk about hats for a moment, just for fun! Historically, hats were worn to display social status as well as for practical purposes (see here). An easy example of this is in the modern graduation mortarboard (aka “Oxford cap”). History suggests that the mortarboard design is derived from the hats worn by early Catholic Clergy, showing the academically pious (social/class) status of the wearer. The academic application also includes the tassel or bow hanging from the side of the mortarboard. This is moved from the right to the left sides, symbolizing the transition from candidate to graduate. The change of sides is a symbol that represents both progression and authority.

Hats are often still status-based (Princess Beatrice, anyone?). But historically, academic head gear for women was much different to men. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the majority of women’s colleges were seminaries focused on nursing and liberal arts. Thus, graduation caps for women were more similar to the white habit worn by Florence Nightingale and her nursing apprentices. An earlier example of this can be seen in the image of Mary Lyon, who founded the all-female Mount Holyoke College in 1837, just a year following the dedication of the Kirkland Temple as a “house of learning”. (Mount Holyoke was a women’s seminary and the first of the U.S. “Seven Sisters” [Female Ivy League] colleges). Isn’t the bow tied on the left of Mary’s bonnet especially pretty?

The inclusion of women at universities in the latter half of the twentieth century gave way to the acceptance of the mortarboard cap, robes, and honour society sashes in unisex university ordinances (a.k.a. university internal legislation) and academic regalia. Whilst not common in the US, the academic regalia in some countries includes decorative sash, often in the colour symbolising a specific field of study. White, for example, often represents music, arts, humanities and theology. Further, many universities have doctoral graduates’ heads topped with a Tudor Bonnet (or similar, a Balmoral Bonnet) instead of the motarboard. The bonnet retained the tassel and its associated honours, again moved from right to left in graduation to signify the achievement of a higher philosophical degree.

Once you have obtained a university degree- are you done learning? Of course not. Just as the temple is not the final step in religious progression. You also do not need to understand everything. Think of the temple ceremony as obtaining a university degree. In order to succeed in a field of study, your research and development must be ongoing… the classic phrase “publish or perish” describes the need of the post-graduate to be academically active. Any doctor, lawyer, teacher or otherwise will tell you that they need to keep up with the latest developments in their industries as to maintain and increase in their professions. The same is of the temple. If we accept the temple as a final place in our personal progression therefore neglect to further our study, then we will spiritually perish. We are taught that the temple is a place of learning (D&C 109:7-8). Further philosophical application and development of the basic principles that lead us to the temple will arm us with glory, power and abiding angles (D&C 109:22-23), but only when we continue to study.

Wait? Was there a message this month? Oh, yes!

Sisters, we are most blessed. The Savior stands at the head of this Church. We are led by living prophets. We have the holy scriptures. And we have many holy temples throughout the world where we can obtain the ordinances necessary to help us return to our Heavenly Father.

We go first to the temple for ourselves. “The primary purpose of the temple,” explained Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “is to provide the ordinances necessary for our exaltation in the celestial kingdom. Temple ordinances guide us to our Savior and give us the blessings that come to us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Temples are the greatest university of learning known to man, giving us knowledge and wisdom about the Creation of the world. Endowment instructions give guidance as to how we should conduct our lives here in mortality. … The ordinance consists of a series of instructions on how we should live and covenants we make to live righteously by following our Savior.”

In constructing this visiting teaching analysis, I obviously like positioning temples as universities. Consider this: universities have general education requirements that many argue are not of value, and fluctuate between different in fields of study. For us, we each have challenges associated with our lives that may prevent us from attending the temple. But like the elusive university degree, if we want the degree- and we want to attend the temple, we have to abide by the bylaws of the institution. History tell us that bylaws and ordinances change over time, so like us, the university itself is expanding and changing as intelligence is furthered. The temple is the same. The ordinances today are different to the ordinances a century ago. In time, university general education requirements are adapted and changed. The temple will adapt and change as well. This reaffirms the idea that we need to open to new learning and the application of new revelation. The temple will always be the house of God, but temple ideology will progress and adapt as revelation continues.

For those who are uncomfortable with the temple, or are not endowed, you can still seek spiritual enlightenment in personal prayer and study. President Uchtdorf reminded us that “For members of the Church, education is not merely a good idea—it’s a commandment.” (see here) Whatever the position of the sisters you teach is regarding the temple (recommend holder, apathetic, unendowed, inactive), I recommend focusing on the study and increase of personal spirituality. In focusing on a personal relationship with God, we receive enlightenment regardless of our endowed/unendowed active/inactive status in the church. This does not mean that the unendowed have limited influence within the church. Consider Emily Lewis. She offered the invocation for the March 2011 General Young Women Meeting. With the First Presidency, General Relief Society, General Primary and General Young Women Presidencies all present behind her (not to mention all of the university degrees and decades of education the members of these presidencies have), this Mia Maid was chosen to invite the spirit to commence the spiritual edification for all Young Women. As Jonathan Stephenson said, “The bridge between our world and the presence of God is personal communication [prayer] with Heavenly Father”. Her prayer was introductory to everything else and bridged the gap for revelation. Even in the presence of prophets, we are called to pray for inspiration for ourselves and those who are in positions of influence around us. Prayer is infinitely powerful, and it is within the reach of each of us.

Moving on:

But our temple service does not end there. President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught: “Acting as proxy for someone who has gone beyond the veil, you will have reviewed before you the covenants that you have made. You will have reinforced in your mind the great spiritual blessings that are associated with the house of the Lord. … In the covenants and ordinances center the blessings that you may claim in the holy temple.”

Ah, yes! Proxy work! It seems to me that we are taught proxy work by and large as being for the benefit of those who were not able to receive baptismal and temple ordinances in this life. I agree with this. But I also recognise that we do proxy temple work for ourselves. Well, at least I do.  I believe that the sisters for whom I have done proxy work somehow empower me. I feel empowered by the generations who have gone before me, as a part of their lineage, strengthened in an eternal bond. In many ways, I feel closer to them than I do to living family. I have always felt this way, I can’t explain it, but I do proxy work for me, and not out of “they didn’t have the opportunity” guilt.

An article written by Lemuel Pitts in the May 1945 The Clearing House journal titled “We Graduate in January Also” , expresses somewhat of the way I feel, but in light of high school graduation ceremonies, before and during the Second World War:

“The boys and girls who had begun to look upon high school merely as a credit factory or who looked upon completion of high school as fruitless and futile lost interest in any sort of commencement program. They forgot that the diploma and formal graduation were not merely for the graduate, but also for the parents who had battled and struggled for twelve years to see the consummation of their ambitions for their children. The parents felt the loss of the program more than the youth who had overlooked the importance of present affairs in the excitement and anxiety of entry in the armed services.”

“There was one man who had left school in 1925 to follow a career without finishing his senior year. In the past four years (1940-1944) the United States Government had changed his career. He had worked at Boeing Aircraft and had done a year or so in the Navy. There was enough to count for a course in aircraft mechanics and military training and experience. His wife represented him to receive his much desired diploma. She was a graduate, and was pleased that he had finished.”

I love those last two lines. I have recently begun to do some temple work for deceased ancestors, but again, I feel like that is also for me—it is my way of thanking my suffragist ancestors for working so hard so I have the life that I do now; it is my small way of sharing the spoils of their hard work with them because I live in a country where I can worship the way I wish, among many other freedoms.

Come to the temple and then come again. Making and keeping temple covenants will keep us on course to the greatest of all blessings—eternal life.

The ending admonition from the message is no surprise. So- if you and your sisters are in a place where you can attend the temple for a session, then do so! If you are not, then you might go to the temple grounds, walk through the inevitable gardens there and share an herbal tea. If you are a league away from a temple (physically or spiritually), then pray! Just invite the spirit to teach you on how to draw closer to God.

All of the learning and symbolism of the temple is focused on obtaining eternal life. The first step in accomplishing this is in establishing a relationship with God; when we focus on prayer as our personal matriculation to eternal life, we can celebrate the symbol and symbolism of the temple in a personal way, even when we don’t, won’t or can’t attend the temple.

Random Question:  I have never seen or attended a temple prep class taught by a woman. I think this is inappropriate. I think women should and would teach temple preparation excellently!- Or at least better than the newly returned missionary guy that I had who had no clue about anything having to do with women and the church. So… have you ever seen or known of a temple prep class taught by a woman? Do you think temple prep should be taught be women?

Spunky

Spunky lives in Queensland, Australia. She loves travel and aims to visit as many church branches and wards in the world as possible.

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45 Responses

  1. Margaret says:

    Thanks for this. I was just getting ready to teach a RS lesson on temples and this has some good ideas for me to ponder on. I’m a woman and I’ve co-taught a temple-prep class. It was a hard calling for me to accept because I’d been through the temple only recently and I hated it. It sparked my crisis of faith and I was totally upfront with the Bishop about all of that when he asked me to teach. But he wanted me to teach anyway and I think it was a good experience, at least for me. Teaching the lessons helped me understand things better than when I took the temple prep class myself (that class was taught by a BYU professor and was basically worthless).

    The best advice I got when I was struggling with the temple was to go to sessions in another language that I didn’t know. I didn’t have to concentrate too much on what was being said; I could just bask in the Spirit and commune with God without all my worries and anger and negative feelings interrupting.

    • Spunky says:

      Thank you for commenting, Margaret. That is excellent advice about going to a session in another language, I wish you had been my temple prep teacher!

    • Annie B. says:

      I’m kind of similar, I felt all the romanticized things about the temple were beautiful: the interior decorating, the idea that it was a holy place to commune with God…but the actual ceremonies seemed so arbitrary, like a weird dr. Suess book or something. The washing and anointing and the sign and symbols and a few other things that I don’t know if it would be respectful of me to mention freaked me out the most. I’m glad that the idea of going to a session in a different language helped you, but to me that would take away the meat of the reason for being there. If you have to take away the messages of the words in order for it to be a good experience then doesn’t that mean that there’s something wrong with the message of the words? I know the proper LDS church answer is that: no, it means that I just don’t understand it yet, in other words there’s not something wrong with the words, there’s something wrong with me. I’ve grown so tired of thinking that way and I’m really struggling with that right now.

      • spunky says:

        Thanks for commenting, Annie B. I think it is perfectly acceptable to NOT take the “proper” church answer. I have been through the temple at times when I was so angry and confused that all I wanted to do was start screaming. I have also had more than a few chuckles at some of the things that I see as just being silly. I have also had personal revelation that I do not believe I could have gained in any other setting(most often in the celestial room after in meditation). What this tells me is that I don’t even understand the temple, nor do I believe it is perfect; I think the temple ceremony is in as much transition as I am at any given time. Because of this, I think it is perfectly acceptable for you to feel uncomfortable in the temple. I think it also would be just as acceptable– IF you are interested, to ask a trusted friend to go with you to the temple to talk about the things that you do not understand.

        Or you could just leave it for now and not worry about going to the temple.

        I think these are “proper” answers for you; what is comfortable and proper for one is not the same for everyone. You are allowed and encouraged to seek your own answers and it is perfectly acceptable if the answers for you are not the cookie-cutter answers that some people assume you “should” have. I support you, I support your questioning, and I support you in the path you seek to find peace and personal revelation, whether it includes the temple or not.

  2. ohkj says:

    In my singles branch Temple Prep is almost always taught by a presidency member’s wife. I always grapple with Temple Prep class because it only seems to open doors of explanation, only to have to slam them shut because we can’t discuss things outside of the temple.

    One of the things I found most helpful, and is probably a giant no-no (but I don’t really care), was my escort sitting me down with her temple packet and showing me everything the night before. She didnt put it on, or go into great detail, but it was nice to see the stuff before the time arose. It was a very spiritual experience, and I think because some of the “unknown” was removed, I had a good first experience. I’ve done the same with some friends who have gone through the temple after me, and plan to do the same with my children.

    Also, I think receiving my endowment well before marriage or mission service was invaluable. The endowment wasn’t just an item on a check list, it was the only reason I was going to the temple.

    • Spunky says:

      Ohjk, I absolutely agree with you that “receiving my endowment well before marriage or mission service was invaluable. The endowment wasn’t just an item on a check list, it was the only reason I was going to the temple.” Thanks for adding that. I did not have anyone show me the clothing before I went through, but it would have been nice if someone had. Two people did try to verbally describe things to me, and left me really confused. (my ideas back then make me laugh now). The son of the institute director told me that his father had shown him the packet beforehand, so I don’t think it inappropriate. Thank you so much for commenting.

  3. April says:

    I love your approach. I actually feel motivated and uplifted, which is different from how I usually feel after talking to people about the temple who overwhelm me with testimony about how much they enjoy it. I don’t believe that enjoying the temple ceremony is prerequisite to salvation.

    • Spunky says:

      Very wise comment, April! Thank you!! The temple can be difficult for many, if not most people. I have had my own issues with it wherein I only felt better when I stepped away, stopped listening to people who raved about it and thought about what the temple meant to me.

  4. BethSmash says:

    So, in my single’s ward the temple prep class was pretty much taught by members of the bishopric and their wives (it kind of alternated on WHO taught what – but since I haven’t actually taken it I can’t be more specific). I’m currently curious about the temple, but not quite in that place in my life where I want to get my endowments. But, since I was curious, I asked my sister. She hadn’t been in a while, so she couldn’t quite remember everything, but she did tell me a little bit about what goes on and stuff and she ALSO told me, that before she got married and was freaking out about her temple trip she asked my mom what goes on and my mom explained it to her too. I’m pretty certain that as I move closer to going to the temple I’ll talk to more people and that most of my friends/family will be honest about what happens there, for which I am thankful.

  5. I am so happy that this months’ msg is on the temple, I am so blessed to be living close to the Johannesburg South Africa Temple, i strive to go as much as i can and this gives me so much joy, this is going to give me another chance to invite the sisters to the temple, even the temple grwnds:)

    • Spunky says:

      Thank you so much for commenting, Thembelihle Carin Ngcobo! I hope you feel as welcome at the Exponent blog as you do about the temple. Please come here often and share your enthusiasm with us!

  6. Janell says:

    My temple prep class was taught by a woman, and I have a friend who is a woman who taught a temple prep class in her ward.

    I found temple prep useless to _me_ – kinda a “Principles” manual abstract or an entire regiment of Primary lessons presented in a handful of lessons. Nothing was taught in that class that aided me in receiving my endowment. Fortunately, I’d already been devoting myself to studying scripture and the modern prophets, so there was little of surprise at the temple.

    • Spunky says:

      Janell- My temple prep class was equally lame, and whilst the “gospel principles” in it are always nice to focus on, I found no benefit in studying that in preparation for the temple. That is brilliant advice about studying scripture and the modern prophets, thank you!!

  7. My temple prep class was taught by a woman. It was still completely 100% not helpful at all. Saying “go read Moses” will just not cut it. My friend is close friends with a couple that are preparing to be sealed. She and her husband have been assigned as temple prep teachers. I think this is a marvelous idea because it will be an intimate enough setting to ask real questions and get substantive answers.

    • spunky says:

      AMB, I am laughing because I was told to read the Pearl of Great Price and that would answer all my pre-temple questions. Um, thanks. It didn’t. That advice made no sense. I really like the idea of personalized class structure for temple preparation. I wonder if people assume that will happen anyway- but for those of us who are not close to family, or are converts, it can be hard to feel safe to ask questions about the temple. Thanks for commenting!!

  8. Mike H. says:

    To reply to the very first question: Yes, I had one bad experience at the Temple. But, it was after I had attend it a number of times. I felt very depressed during a session. Afterward, I see 2 possible explanations:

    1. The person I was going through for rejected the ordinance work I did, or

    2. The Lord was showing me my depression was real. Do you really think Satan is 100% responsible for all depression? Then how would one explain this?

    I did start anti-depressants shortly after this time.

    Just reading the Pearl of Great Price is limited in helping one be ready for going to the Temple for the first time. I admit I wasn’t shocked or bewildered by it. In fact, parts of it seemed familiar, even though I had not read any detailed account of what happens in the Endowment.

    It is a wondrous thing that going to the Temple for others actually also helps us as well.

  9. Kim says:

    I taught temple prep in my singles ward. I love the temple (I received my endowments 7 years ago because I wanted to) and even though I was the temple prep teacher, I don’t think the class was very effective and I honestly don’t know of a lesson plan that would be both appropriate and helpful to someone who has not been endowed. It would be offensive to teach to a class essentially the minutes of a temple session, albeit useful to people who have had a lifetime to build up their own mystery and expectations about the temple, so I think having a trusted friend to answer questions as specifically as possible in an intimate, quiet, one-on-one setting would calm any “are we going to have to [insert strange urban legend]” fears that can accumulate due to the secretive nature of temple discussions. The best preparation a person can have beforehand is to be in tune with the spirit and I can’t teach that. Any lessons on symbolism or church doctrine or Leviticus are wasted until a person goes through the temple and can then put them in the right context to know which questions to ponder and which to ask. I do love your allusion to the temple as a university; you do a great job of explaining that the temple is a process, not an end. Maybe the best way to do the whole class is to have a couple of lessons beforehand about what the temple is not and then a few lessons after the endowment on symbolism and history after the person has gone through. My institute class on the book of Revelations was a million times more layered and significant for me than for my unendowed friends.

  10. Diane says:

    @ Mike H

    Satan has nothing to with Depression.

    Depression has a biological component to it. I am glad you are taking anti-depressants. But. even with that, you will have good days, and bad days, faith and your relationship with God, has nothing to do with depression. That’s putting yourself on a guilt trip you don’t need to be on. GOT IT!

    • amelia says:

      Diane, as someone who has dealt with depression for a long while. I really appreciate your pointing out that depression, when we’re using the word to discuss mental illness, is a matter of biology and brain chemistry and is not the product of evil, whether sin we have committed or something Satan can generate.

      That said, I think the problem you identify in Mike H.’s comment is that he doesn’t fully distinguish between two kinds of “depression”: on the one hand, the idea of how doing wrong can lead to feeling badly or feeling guilt or losing our connection to the spirit–in other words, a spiritual depression; on the other hand, the mental illness we call depression. I dislike using the word “depression” to describe former because it causes the kind of confusion you’re addressing here, but I don’t think Mike H. trying to suggest that Satan is the cause of the mental illness we know of as depression.

      I do appreciate your trying to spell out the distinction between the spiritually repressive consequences of sin and the very real mental illness depression. People who deal with mental illness, regardless of its form, have more than enough to deal with without being told that they’re being led astray by Satan. And their loved ones are ill equipped to help if they believe the problem is sin rather than illness.

      • Mike H. says:

        I mentioned this, because some keep suggesting that “being more righteous” will eliminate depression. I’m sure it is a biochemistry issue.

  11. Caroline says:

    Spunky,
    Thanks so much for this interesting take on temples and the VT message. I really appreciate hearing your positive attitude about the temple and what you get out of it. Intellectually I understand that there are some wonderful and empowering ideas in the temple ceremonies, but emotionally, I’m stuck on those parts that so deeply wound me. Maybe someday I’ll be able to go and not be filled with despair.

    • spunky says:

      I can’t say that I have always been okay with the temple ceremony, so I empathize with your sense of dispair. To be honest, I considered leaving the church as a result of some of the things in the temple that just struck me as wrong… I was angry, though. So- the temple used to enrage me. I am not sure how I was able to press beyond this, so I can’t pass on any degree of advice or knowledge in regard to it. I did however learn a lot in studding outside resources on other ceremonies, such as graduation ceremonies, Masonic ritual, Jewish feminine theology and even non-LDS panhellenic organization rituals after which I made personal choices in what to regard as prophetic, versus antiquated patriarchal culture, not unlike universities in the past that didn’t allow women to partake in co-educational study or graduation but have corrected this antiquated ill.

      I guess I think of Eve in the book of Moses– she knew better than Adam what needed to happen in order to fulfill “the plan”. It is a eternal blessing that she didn’t blindly follow Adam, and without her, we might still be waiting for Adam to figure out what was really meant to happen. In a nutshell, since Adam was NOT hearkening to the Lord in following the greater plan at stake, it is wise that Eve did not follow suit. As such, I perceive any suggestion of blind obedience to anyone as secondary and even worthless when compared to my own obligation and divine right to receive personal revelation. Just as Eve taught us, gender does not equal automatic authority. As such, I have liberated myself from this ideology.

      • Mike H. says:

        …some of the things in the temple that just struck me as wrong…

        Paradoxes are found frequently in the scriptures. Abraham barely escape being sacrificed, yet he was asked to sacrifice his son? Moses brought down from Sinai a commandment not to worship images, and yet he made that serpent on a pole, that looking at would heal those stricken?

        I wish I had a perfect answer, but sometimes we are tried in ways hard to figure the logic of.

      • Annie B. says:

        Wow, that was really cool to read because I’ve been identifying a lot with Eve lately. And I’ve been thinking that surely God values my individual connection with him, and me using that connection to discern right from wrong more than he values my obedience to things I can’t come to terms with.

  12. MLCC says:

    Spunky,

    I had so much fun reading this insightful post! Thanks for your interesting research about hats. I appreciate your encouragement to attend the temple.

    About women teaching temple prep classes…I just finished teaching the class to my sister, who is scheduled to receive her endowment soon. Our bishop recommended that, during our lessons, we skype with our family members who live in different states so that they could add their insights. This provided an intimate environment in which we could discuss sacred things, and I probably would not have felt comfortable discussing things in equal detail in a classroom setting at church. I appreciated the bishop’s open-minded approach to the class, and found that my sister learned a lot more about what to expect from our discussions than I did in my own temple prep class!

  13. Diane says:

    An even more important topic that needs to be discussed (Other than women teaching temple prep classes) is how and why a temple recommend can be taken away from you.

  14. Danielle says:

    My temple prep class was taught by another woman in our singles ward. Our singles ward was roughly for 25+ so students in the class were almost always women (no pre-missionaries).

    The class was great. She put a lot of thought and preparation into the lessons, they were taken up by lots of questions, we shared outside resources with one another, and talked a lot about symbolism and ceremony and how to relate to it. The class combined with all of the individual work I did to figure out my feelings on the gender inequitable language. Because man, I felt like I had been kicked in the belly the first time I read about some of it. And, in the end, I had a really beautiful experience.

    • spunky says:

      Thanks for commenting, Danielle! I am so glad you had a female teacher and a positive experience. I also had a positive experience the first time I went through, but it was more because I had so many friends there to support me… without their love and support, I am not sure it would have been positive, especially because the temple prep class I had was nice, but… just void of any real information. To me, it seemed like a task to be accomplished, rather than a preparatory experience. I am so pleased that so many women are involved in teaching about this!

  15. Kendal says:

    Amazing post! I recently received my endowment, and it has been both a blessing and a struggle for me. I love the way you discuss the Temple. It’s very helpful!

    As to your question, I was taught Temple Prep by a woman–the Bishop’s wife. It was WONDERFUL! (the Bishop also taught a couple of times with his wife). I was so encouraged and set at ease. I felt like I had a very good idea of exactly what I would do and the process of what would go on in the Temple– no surprises (though I guess in some ways there were–I still didn’t know the exact words or what anything looked like). We talked about symbolism in the Temple, read from various talks and quotes about the purpose of the Temple and the covenants we make there from Prophets and apostles. And my fellow class members and I felt safe asking any questions we had and expressing our concerns, fears or doubts. I am so grateful for that experience! I felt so prepared and comfortable with going to the Temple, it was amazing. Though, I was still a little nervous and obviously there were plenty of things they didn’t tell us about, at least in detail.

    And even then, with a great Temple prep class, I wasn’t totally prepared I guess. It was a still strange and uncomfortable the first time I went, though after going back nothing seemed half as shocking or humorous (I had to resist a strong impulse to burst out laughing the first time–I can’t entirely explain why). And aside from that, there is nothing that could ease some of the discomfort I feel about the Temple as a woman, which I partly expected, but was not entirely prepared for. But I am grateful that despite having a myriad of questions, I do feel a desire to attend the Temple and a confidence that I can ask questions and work to get answers, even if they don’t seem to come easily or immediately.

    • spunky says:

      Kendal,
      I agree that there are a lot of questions after- I still have many questions and have been going for years (albeit in interrupted phases). I am glad you had a positive experience. I think a huge blessing for me was in doing proxy initiatory sessions every week for about 6 months shortly after I was endowed. It was an accidental assignment, but I needed it. Thank you for your comment!!

  16. rebecca says:

    this is the first time I’ve read your blog, found it randomly from Google. I think this is a great discussion topic, I feel like the temple COULD be a much more positive experience if people were better prepared. I received my endowments before my mission service and during my interview the Stake President found out I hadn’t had the temple prep class, he said it would be okay since I had been a member all my life. I had a brief explanation from my mom. It was a neutral experience, I had no idea what was going on. After my mission I enjoyed going weekly and feeling the peace and spirit there without making any huge advances in understanding. I loved reading Nibley’s book the Temple, I thought the biblical history of the different symbols was invaluable. But anyway, my point is, I think everyone entering the temple should know exactly what covenants and promises they will be making, it’s not fair to ask them to walk out of the endowment room in front of all their friends and family if they aren’t sure. To my knowledge, the only things that are forbidden from sharing are the signs and tokens. Other than that there’s no reason why people shouldn’t know everything else and post mission I went to a temple prep class taught by my Stake President who felt the same and it was AMAZING. Of course it should all be spoken of with respect and reverence, but real preparation with a knowledge of the covenants I think would be invaluable. Anyone getting out their endowments for the first time should really really want to be making those covenants and looking forward to the increased responsibility and power. Like someone else said, it shouldn’t just be something to check off the list before getting married or going on a mission.

    • spunky says:

      Thanks for commenting, rebecca! I hope you come back often– your experience and voice is welcome here!!

    • Annie B. says:

      “I think everyone entering the temple should know exactly what covenants and promises they will be making, it’s not fair to ask them to walk out of the endowment room in front of all their friends and family if they aren’t sure.”

      I totally agree.

  17. settee says:

    I attended at temple class that was taugh by a woman and it was EXACTLY the same as the one taught by a man. Actually my most helpful prep for the temple was the meeting I had with my stake president prior to attending the temple for my endowments. he had me read specific scriptures that explained almost everthing that occurs in the temple and why. It was AWESOME! I felt so reassured and ready to go knowing that this was all there in the scriptures if we just seek it out.

    • gail says:

      Would you have that list of scriptures?

      • spunky says:

        seettee- I am surprised that the classes were so similar! That is interesting, in my experience, classes differ widely when taught from a female perspective vs. a male perspective, unless they are rote in following a handbook.

        I am interested in the list of scriptures as well… please share!

  18. Gayle says:

    An oldie but a ‘goodie’ is the book “Gospel Symbolism”. There is a chapter on robes of righteousness that helps people wearing garments and several other sections that help people going to the Temple. I often share this with friends going through for the first time. My aunt had a terrible first experience in the days her family saved forever to travel to the Temple and then it was closed for a few days. She worked it through, but her words helped me ponder and act on what I was advised by friends- ‘just sit and feel.’

    Loved the comments about ‘hats’. There is a great old Hugh Nibley article that discusses this in more detail along with a few other points.

    • spunky says:

      Thanks for the sources, Gayle. I haven’t read either– do they include anything empowering for women? Seems to me that most gospel/temple resources are aimed at women’s servitude, child-bearing, and secondary status to husbands. Would you recommend these sources to women who can’t/don’t want children, single women who do not intend to marry or just a general feminist audience?

  19. Squashy says:

    Thats a really interesting post on this subject. I have only been recently baptized and I have been attending the investigators class since I first had contact with the church in June. I am feeling a little lost and confused as I am not sure what is in store for me at all in the future. I was told about a trip to the temple almost the whole ward is going and was advised by the teacher of my class to get a limited recommend from the Bishop. He seemed a little surprised but after interviewing me he said I was ready. I got my recommend and then my teacher said I could take part in baptisms. I am very nervous. I know you can not tell me what will happen there but is there likely to be anything that will freak me out there and do you think I should wait a while? I really want to go but now the day before the trip I have cold feet! Eeek thats just typical of me 🙂

  20. Squashy says:

    Its ok I already had this question answered 🙂

  1. October 10, 2012

    […] is traditional and expected. However, I have previously written my thoughts on the temple here and here and did not feel that this month’s message was necessarily best served with only a temple focus […]

  2. January 24, 2016

    […] How do our own insights and interpretations develop when we study in and out of the temple? Some of my temple-inspired thoughts are here and here and here. […]

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