I knew pretty early into our new church-going lifestyle that I wanted to be sealed in the temple. I had had just a small taste of how short this life was and I knew this was the goal for me. In the first couple of weeks, I had picked up a book on temples from my bishop. I read it aloud to Brady on a family road trip. We had just enough hours in our trip to finish the book from cover to cover. “This is something I want to do,” I told Brady. He just casually shrugged and said, “okay.” That week we started preparing to go.
In the LDS faith, we believe the temple is truly the house of the Lord. We take preparation to enter very seriously. We sacrifice worldly things to allow more blessings into our life. We pray a lot, we repent, we work toward our inner happiness and peace. To me, it was like a spiritual cleanse. Stripping down to the bare minimum and allowing more spiritual growth than you know what to do with. The goal being that when we enter, we are in our happiest, most whole state and that we can thoroughly enjoy the blessings of the temple. (keep in mind, this is just my experience of the temple – this is not church doctrine – if you are interested in going to the temple, you can see more information HERE)
This step was a bit overwhelming for me because I was learning about my new church and learning about temple marriages at the same time. I would have questions on one side, but feel peaceful about the other and vise versa. I was and am so fortunate to have a group of people I could ask all my questions to – completely free of judgement. My favorite of my mentors being God. I wrestled with Him a lot in these months. I am a very rebellious soul and for me to conform comes with such resistance. Being “mormon” was something I never ever thought I would be and I battled a lot with my own ego and personal experience. I had to trust in a way I hadn’t before. Through faith.
There was no proof I could look up, there was no one person I could ask or inherit from. I had to go at my own pace and do the work and it was hard sometimes. Some days I would feel so frustrated, some days I would feel hurt or betrayed, some days I would feel overwhelming peace. Those peaceful days were what kept me going. On my 2nd outing as a “visiting teacher”, my sweet partner (whom I know was placed directly in my life for a specific purpose) said, “Satan can duplicate so many of our emotions. He can duplicate fun, he can duplicate excitement, he can even duplicate love; but he cannot duplicate peace.”
I had been a Christian for years before. A happy Christian and a good Christian, I thought. I had a relationship with God and I felt like I knew Him and His will for my life. But in learning of a new religion, I had to blend the two together and sometimes that was confusing. I knew that when I felt good about something, it was God’s Will. What I had been completely skipping over though, was obedience. I was following God as it was convenient for me – and I was happy doing it! I was happy on MY terms though and not HIS. As I learned the importance of obeying, I learned that when I followed His way, I was so much happier than I could have ever lead myself to. This was one of many ah-ha! moments. (thank you, Oprah)
Because I am human and completely unperfect – a sinner, if you will – obedience is about the hardest thing for me to do. I don’t want to obey! I want to rebel! I want to find my own way in this life and I absolutely do not want to do something just because someone told me. It was the make-up for the lousiest of mormons and I wondered – seriously – if this was for me. But God kept pushing forward. When I wanted to stop, when I had my heels dug in the dirt, His Grace and Glory came nudging my backside again.
I didn’t have all the things a good LDS girl should have. An upbringing in the church or a testimony in the gospel; but once I confirmed that this really was what God wanted in my life, I pushed forward. I put all my faith and trust in the Lord to guide me and He did just that.
On another visiting teaching outing (I’m realizing I learn way more from these than I will probably ever “teach”) I was chatting with that same sweet partner of mine. I was feeling insecure as a new member. “I just feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. I am the farthest thing from the typical mormon girl.” I said, feeling defeated. “…And that’s a bad thing?” Tina replied. I had never thought of it that way. Tina is newly home from a senior mission as her husband was the mission president in Africa. I thought she of all the people would be judging me – but she didn’t bat a lash. “The last thing this religion needs is another ‘typical mormon’,” she ranted, “You’re the best thing that’s happened to this ward in years!” And although it was Tina who said it, I knew God was answering my prayers and taking care of me with this very statement. I knew it’s what He had wanted to tell me.
So, onward I pushed as a completely different kind of mormon. I have tattoos, a less than conservative style, and a PAST. But I also have a good and loving heart, an appreciation for the human experience and an absolute devotion to womanhood and family. And as I know, it’s not always those seemingly perfect members that are the example. For me it was one of my best friends who probably thinks of herself as the opposite of the “perfect mormon”, but she was perfect for me in where I was in my life. She was real and honest was doing the best she could. She was able to touch my heart in a way no one had before. I don’t have to be like the perfect ones, I thought. But I hope I can be like her.
We completed our temple preparation classes, we readied ourselves the best way we knew how, we set some dates.
Photo credit: Speak Now Photography