I recently read a blog post by a 20-something about how she has decided to leave the Church. As I read, I actually identified with a lot of what she said, which I found odd because I’m so incredibly far from leaving the Church. How could we share similar thoughts and feelings and be in completely different places regarding the Church? I think it’s incredibly important that everyone forge their own path to salvation, and I thought her post was insightful without bashing the Church. However, I also wanted to discuss something that she confronted in her post about the temple.
This woman wrote about the first time she went through the temple to receive her endowment and how she felt darkness. She says that the few times she attended after that were uncomfortable and left her with a feeling that didn’t seem right. I instantly thought about the months leading up to my wedding and endowment. I remember going to the distribution center with my mom to get ordinance clothing and garments and feeling so overwhelmed by everything that I wanted to break down right there. I was incredibly stressed, and so incredibly nervous. As I received my own endowment, it was unlike anything I’d ever done in Church, and I felt so confused as to how everything within the gospel and the temple fit together. I remember sitting in the celestial room and thinking to myself, “I don’t know if I really want to go through the temple again. That was a whole lot to take in.” I was overwhelmed, and I felt like I hadn’t learned a single thing, nor had I had any incredible spiritual impressions. I wouldn’t have described what I felt as darkness, but I think I probably thought a lot of the same things as this woman did when she first went through.
Here’s what made the difference for me and my view of the temple. I leaned on the testimony of others. Initially, I couldn’t say right-out that I loved the temple but, I knew a lot of incredibly smart people who kept going to the temple and did have a testimony. I thought of my parents, who always showed me the importance of temple worship. I thought of all my professors at BYU. Surely, these incredibly smart men and women weren’t just pulling the wool over their eyes. I knew that they believed because it was talked about within my classes. It was talked about within my home. It was talked about within every ward I’d ever been apart of. And the temple was always talked about with reverence, respect, and love. I knew that if all these people whom I loved and admired, loved and admired the temple, I could, too. It may take some time, but I decided that until that time came, I would lean on their testimonies and faith while I built my own.
So, my husband and I kept going to the temple. We went to the temple while we were on our honeymoon. We continued to go amongst busy school and work schedules. We attended endowment sessions over and over because that’s what troubled me. I don’t think I did initiatory for the first time after my own until we had been married for almost half a year. Eventually, I began to feel the peace that everyone talks about within the temple. I began to have spiritual impressions, and I grew to love the temple.
I discussed this experience with my friend recently, and she said she felt the same way about the temple initially, as did her little sister. She said she thinks that the feeling of darkness is really a feeling of confusion. As I discussed this with her, I was reminded of the story of the iron rod in 1st Nephi. There are masses of people that are taken away from the rod and the tree because of a mist of darkness. They let go of the rod, and they wander from the path. Those who make it to the tree, are those who keep holding to the rod with all their strength through the mists of darkness. It felt good to know that I was not the only one who experience a “mist of darkness” when I first attended the temple. It did not mean I was doing something wrong; it actually meant I was doing something right. Of course Satan is going to try to allow that mist of darkness, the mist of confusion, to cloud your judgement when you do something as significant as entering into covenants with the Lord in his Holy Temple. The key is to hold to the rod. Hold to the things that you do know, and keep going through that mist of darkness. Keep doing what the prophets have counseled, keep keeping the commandments and the covenants you’ve made, and you too will reach the tree.
I know the overwhelming emotions that can come with the temple. If you are feeling this way, you are not alone. In fact, you are in good company. I would urge you to continue attending the temple until that mist clears. You will be so grateful that you did.