Why do I want to go to the temple?

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My sister, 16 months younger than me, the second of five children born into our family, is getting married in April. She plans to be sealed in the temple to her now-fiancé, the first of we siblings to be married. Our youngest brother, recently returned from the Scotland Ireland mission, will be able to attend, along with our mother, and myself – if I get my temple recommend renewed.

I would do so for her, but I’ve also been pondering lately about if I would like a recommend for myself, and so I did what I sometimes do when I can’t figure out my own thoughts, and set a timer, and put pen to paper for a few minutes, without planning, editing or stopping. And here are my thoughts:

I have a desire to be in a place where I can feel God’s love, where I can see the paths I can take to become like my Heavenly Mother.

I was convinced that I could become like God, that I have that potential, that I can become this version of me that I occasionally have glimpses of – that maps almost perfectly onto my experience of God, and I wanted to see more of that in the temple.

I want to feel that God wants me and will hold me safe and pull me close. I want to see myself how I hope God sees me.

I don’t know if I can find those at the temple, if it’s a place for me to feel close to Heaven. And I’m pretty sure that I was specially built to keep hold of this idea of what Heaven is and can be, and I don’t want to let go of that. Enjoying the temple by becoming less of me isn’t going to work.

I want to feel connected with all of my loved ones, and not limited by the circumstances of which family I was born into, and I want to have assurance of those connections for eternity.

I want to find answers and keys to mysteries and treasures of knowledge.

On the one hand, I’m really okay with finding those things in my life at a place other than at the temple. I can feel those when I walk along the beach and feel the bay winds lifting me; I can let the sun gently warm my neck and know that God loves me; I can let the soft animal of my body love what it loves fn1 and feel that my journey is only in its very beginning stages.

And on the other hand, I also belong to a community, and there are people who love me who would worry less about me if they knew I found peace and comfort in the temple. People who are good and kind and draw me closer to the Saviour, who would feel more at ease with my spiritual path if it looked more like they expected, and more readily accept the answers that I feel are grounded in the spirit if they matched more closely the standard rhetoric in general conference.

In the end, I cannot be who I am not, difficult as that may be for myself or those around me, and I have to trust that the God who created me loves me this way: that my complete conviction in my own personhood and eternal worth is not a bug, but a feature; and that my ability to see the divine outside of the structure of the church is an asset and not a liability.

The way of truth – the way of faith, hope and charity – is not an easy path, but it’s the only one I want to walk, and I’m so grateful to feel my Saviour walking beside me, even when that path does not look how others (and especially those with institutional authority) generally expect. And we’ll see if that path takes me to the temple.

fn1 – From Wild Geese, found in Mary Oliver’s New and Selected Poems, Volume One

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6 Responses

  1. Dani Addante says:

    Beautiful article! It will be so amazing when they make things equal for men and women in the temple. I’ve been hurt many times by some of the wording in the temple. It’s true that we can see the words in the temple script as figurative, but I’m sure there are many people who see it literally, as I did at first. I believe that some of the wording in the temple pushes people away. I’m sure many more people would find peace in the temple if some of the words were changed. Thank you for your article!

  2. Katrina says:

    Beautiful, Olea. Thank you. And give your sister a big hug for me.

  3. Caroline says:

    Lovely, Olea, as always. The temple may really work for you. I have a feminist friend who feels absolutely spiritually fed in the temple, and she is able to shake off the unfortunate gendered wording as manifestations of an earlier sexist time in which the ceremonies were constructed. Other feminist friends can’t get over that wording — including myself. I too believe there are many different paths and journeys to the divine. P.S. I love Mary Oliver!!

  4. Danna says:

    Beautifully said, thank you for sharing your heart on such a hard thing. And perfect with Mary Oliver! ❤

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