Sunday, November 30, 2014

I Want To Understand

In conversations about the temple, particularly first temple experiences, at least one person mentions how awkward or strange they found their first temple experience to be.

I have been thinking about this as I have been studying the temple covenants and rituals in the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament. As I read the words of the scriptures my mind turned back to my first temple experience. I didn't understand everything - I still don't - but I remember having a fierce testimony of the importance of the temple before I even went for the first time. I knew that whatever was going to happen in the temple was going to be what needed to happen, and that I would certainly learn things - which is what I always expected I would do in the temple - learn new things.

So I think that there are two keys to a good first temple experience:

1.) A strong foundational testimony of the importance of the temple


2.) A strong desire to learn something new every day, an open mind, an attitude that if something seems strange it's probably because you don't understand it completely.

What do you think are the important aspects of preparing for a good first experience in the temple?


  1. My parents had us read the books of Moses and Abraham prior to going to the temple; when I went everything seemed very familiar. I believe a strong foundation of gospel knowledge with a firm testimony of the Savior is important. I remember feeling like I'd come home and didn't want to go back out into the lone and dreary world again. I haven't heard it taught for a long time, but I remember from my childhood and youth Sacrament meeting speakers teaching about the proper way to raise our arms when sustaining a calling in church; little things like that helped prepare me for all the symbolism of the temple. I believe it was Elder Neal A. Maxwell who, when asked about going to the temple for the first time, said "Look for the Savior." In everything. That has helped over the years too. One more thing, I believe an good understanding of covenants in general is helpful to understanding what you're doing in the temple the first time. It is serious business, not to be taken lightly.

  2. For me, I had a FANTASTIC Bishop who did two one-hour 'lessons' with me when we talked fairly in depth about the Temple experience. I had a pretty clear expectation of what my day would look like, and the covenants and just kind of the 'logistics' of the experience. It helped me go in very comfortable and informed about what to expect -- almost everyone I've talked to who was shaken by the experience had almost no preparation or discussion ahead of time of simple logistics of 'first you will go here, then you'll do this, and this is how they handle this, etc.' that left them feeling fairly off balance and not sure what was going to happen next, increasing their anxiety in a very new situation. I think we should teach and talk about all we can with someone, and like my dear Bishop said, in his office and in his role of Bishop, he was able to cover even more than normal, and it was what I credit such a wonderful, comfortable experience to, in part.

  3. I also had a FANTASTIC Bishop who took me aside before my big day and just walked me through the logistics. He told me I would be making covenants, laid the temple clothing out on the bed (so I knew what it would be like) and just told me that I would go here and do this without any specific detail or content. It was the day before my endowment. I really, really appreciated what he and his good wife did for me, especially since both of my parents had been recently excommunicated and neither was in a good place to be giving spiritual advice, specifically about the temple. They told me that I wouldn't understand everything and that was alright and that if I tried, I would miss the point of the experience. My instructions were to learn what I could but to pay most attention to the Spirit I felt while participating and not to stress about remembering everything because there would be people to help me when and if I needed it. Because of that experience, I went into the temple relaxed and really enjoyed it, even though it was a completely new experience.

    I like to think about it like anything else that is new.....we all stress a little too much when we do not understand a situation and do not know what to expect, (even little people at the doctor's office...). Something that is comfortable for us and completely normal can seem overwhelming and stressful for someone else who doesn't know what is going on. The more information we can give them while still being obedient to our instructions and covenants is significant.

    On a side note, my husband feels the most important thing we can help them to know and understand is that the teaching in the temple is symbolic, no just straight forward. That is his concern with preparing new temple goers.


What makes your soul delight? This is my invitation to you to share your thoughts right here on my blog. I read every one of them, and I appreciate them!

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