Fake Temple Trip: Part 2


It seems I was sidetracked from this story, so now we return to LadyMo’s Fake Temple Trip with the J family.

I didn’t know the J family very well before this trip. I really only saw them at church and one or two times for a game night. Ha, fun fact: the first night I went to a game night at the J family’s house, there were about seven of us. I remember texting Elder P (now just P) that I was both looking forward to and terrified about my first super Mormon night. I was nervous, okay?

Anyway, back to the temple trip. Natalie encouraged me to ask Marie if I could tag along so that I could, you know, just work on being near one without freaking out. I thought it might be nice to just sit outside somewhere and read, or walk around and “take it all in.” I had no idea what to expect or how to prepare. I just love that feeling.

I met Adam and Marie at their house around 6:00 a.m., we dropped some sleepy children off at a babysitter’s (was it the G family?) house and hit the road. Normally, road trips longer than an hour tend to knock me out, so I was gearing up for a four-hour nap. Instead, we talked the whole time. It was awesome! Mostly, it was Adam and I talking about sociology, and Marie taught me a lot about what I could expect at the temple. We talked about baptisms for the dead, the visitor’s center, why Winter Quarters is important to our church history, and mostly that I should focus on how I feel while I’m there. We talked about what I would do my first time going to the temple for real. I’m glad for this conversation. At that point in my story, I needed simple directives like “don’t be angsty, try to feel the spirit.” I was nervous, so small words and short sentences were helpful.

As we approached the temple, I remember becoming more and more nervous. A lot of thoughts were racing through my mind at an unbelievably rapid speed: what do I do? What do I expect? How do I do this? Why can’t my dad ever go in this building? What if I’m not ready? How do I know if I feel the spirit? What does it look like? What if I see something that scares me (what, like a ghost??)? What if I’m never ready to go in? What if I cry? Why do I have to do this before my patriarchal blessing? How will I know if I received a blessing from being here? BLASGGHH!

I was a mess.

But then I saw the temple sitting quietly on a hill. It was small, and white, and peaceful. At the risk of sounding cheesy, it took my breath away. The first time I saw the temple, I didn’t think all of those weird racing thoughts. Actually, I wasn’t thinking anything except, “whoa.”

Marie and Adam parked and said we could meet in front of the temple a few hours later. I knew I could go in the waiting room and as far as the recommend desk if I wanted to, but I wasn’t ready yet.

I walked down the hill to the Visitor’s Center. I met a few sister missionaries and they offered to give me a tour. A few other women were in the tour group. Most were from Nebraska or Iowa, and one woman, get this, was from Rhode Island. She lived in the town next door to where I grew up and greeted me with a very thick and very familiar accent. I didn’t realize how much I missed hearing it. During the tour, this woman said some of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. I wish I could remember anything she said, but at the moment, it escapes me. But the ridiculousness of her comments is important to the story.

Here’s why.

At the end of the tour, after about 45 minutes of silly togetherness, she turned to me and said, in a moment of complete clarity, “LadyMo, you have a sweet and spicy spirit about you. I don’t know why, but I feel like I need to tell you this: whatever is going in your life, you need to love that person for who they are today. Remember the Atonement is for all of us. Forget who they were before and love them for who they are today. Okay?”

I stood there, in the middle of the Visitor’s Center, stunned and amazed. For a few weeks, I had been struggling with things. Her words were the exact answer to something I had been praying about for a while and something that caused a lot of confusion for me. For 45 minutes, her words were jambled and silly. For five minutes, she spoke with such clarity and such intimate insight into my life. The juxtaposition is almost poetic.

I stood there, in the middle of the Visitor’s Center, and cried. I hugged this woman and sobbed and thanked her. The sisters were amazed and shared with me a way cool scripture (DC 46: 11-14). Sister Jensen taught me that sometimes answers to our prayers are given to us through the words of others. It was an incredible experience.

After the Visitor’s Center, I walked back to the temple, floating on a spiritual high, with the intention of just sitting in the waiting room. I wanted to see if I was capable of “feeling the spirit.” I wanted to know if God was ready for me to be there. I wanted to know if I was ready. I wanted a sign, but I didn’t know what I was supposed to look for or what to listen for.

So I just sat. And waited.

After about 20 minutes, I was feeling a mix of antsy-pants and bravery, so I moved to sit at the recommend desk. I must have thought that proximity would help the spirit slap me in the face. Don’t ask. Anyway, as I sat there, I started to pay attention to the people walking into the temple. I felt like I knew these people; they had a familiar peacefulness to them. And then, after a few people walked in and smiled and waved at me, I realized that it wasn’t just a peaceful familiarity – it was an actual familiarity. I knew every person in the temple. Lawrence 1st Ward, the ward where I was baptized, had their temple trip that day. I felt overwhelmed with love and support and as if I was in the middle of a big group hug. After watching a long line of L1W, I wondered if the C family was there too. I looked up and Jessica C was practically running down the staircase. She gave me the biggest hug and seeing her there was such an amazing comfort. I felt like I was wanted there. I felt like I was ready to be there. I felt like this was the answer to my prayer. It was like my decision to be baptized. When I had a lot of questions, Heavenly Father sent me 30 missionaries to let me know He loved me. He did the same thing at the temple. When I was still unsure about how I felt about being at the temple, He sent me 30 people I knew and loved to let me know it was safe to be there. Incase anyone needs to know how to get my attention, here you go.

I was in a place that I thought would give me grief, and I was feeling peaceful and overjoyed (is it possible to feel both at the same time?). I felt like I needed to be there again. I was excited knowing that I’d be back in two weeks “for real.” I couldn’t wait to tell Adam and Marie what happened that day – that every question I had was answered. I remember that the answer to my prayers was bundled up in a cute little package of “it’s going to be okay. You’re allowed to relax.”

My first temple trip, my trial run, was a success. I received answers to prayers, I got to know two wicked awesome people, and felt comfortable letting myself be open to learning.

And I was so happy.

With so much love,

The LadyMo


7 responses »

  1. What an amazing fake temple trip! The name of the post really makes me laugh, but I guess because it is so ironic. To be filled with such “real” spiritual experiences is amazing. The L1 ward has 3 temple trips a year. And to think that you were sitting there, not only on the exact day they would be there, but the exact time that friends were walking in is a beautiful testament of God’s love. I feel like the Winter Quarter’s temple is on such hallowed, sacred ground and it is a privilege to go there. I will miss going there when we have our KC temple.

  2. Erin, it was an amazing day. I could feel God working to make sure I knew this was a sacred place. It was such an incredible feeling to be in this place, in this sacred and hallowed space, and surrounded by the love of friends. I needed that experience. Deciding to go to the temple was scary and challenging. At that moment, I needed a space that was comfortable and familiar, and God delivered.

    In Nebraska, even. 🙂

  3. I don’t want to be a downer, but really, LadyMo, don’t feel like you have to love the temple. Don’t feel like you have to bring it in to your life if it is harmful to you.

    Lots of people have really beautiful experiences in the temple, and lots of people have really destructive ones. But there is a ton of pressure to *love* it, as part of your faith journey and testimony. You don’t have to.

    But you probably already knew I felt that way. 🙂

  4. The temple is sacred and should only be approached with the utmost reverence and respect. If you enter the temple and are prepared for what Heavenly Father wants you to learn, you will love it. Keeping your covenants is a protection to you, whether they are baptismal covenants or temple covenants.
    I loved being part of your fake temple trip. I loved that all those people you knew from your old ward were there. It’s amazing how Heavenly Father places people in our lives to bless us. Love you!

  5. ” If you enter the temple and are prepared for what Heavenly Father wants you to learn, you will love it.”

    Again, this is not the experience of many, many people, myself included. And I hate to think that anyone who goes through the temple and has a painful experience must be forced to think that they were “unprepared” or out of line with God’s will, or unworthy, or not spiritual enough. I would make an amendment:

    ” If you enter the temple and are prepared for what Heavenly Father wants you to learn, you MAY love it.”

    And you may not. Either way, God loves you, you’re beautiful, and your experience is valid and your own.

  6. I realize that some people may not have had as beautiful of an experience in the temple and I don’t claim to know why. People in this church baffle me on a daily basis and I am compelled to ponder upon why we are so different in the way we approach things, digest things, and execute things even though we are in the same church. Even so, I have to agree with Marie. I don’t profess to know all the rhymes and reasons that people feel differently, but I have a testimony of the temple. I havn’t had any miracles happen to me there, sometimes I feel more uplifted than others, but all times are peaceful, thought provoking, and one can feel the spirit of the Lord there. I have had some not so pleasant experiences there, and even so……the spirit of the Lord testifies to me while I’m there that this is where I need to be, despite my stubborn attitude, and then compells me to return. I also have to add that my attitude generally greatly influences how I will feel when I am there. I didn’t feel completely warm and fuzzy inside the first time I went. Instead I felt a little lost and confused. When I changed my attitude about how I was looking at things that day, I was better able to feel the spirit of the Lord and the other feelings didn’t matter at that time anymore. I felt my fathers comfort and that is all I needed that day. I have a firm testimony of the temple and that it is the House of the Lord, and that going there will benefit anyones lives if they will let it. The Lord isn’t going to force anyone to love His temple or to make any covenants. It’s there for our benefit, and I suppose we can decide to take from it what we will. I do agree with Nat Kelly that either way, God loves you, you’re beautiful, an your experience is your own.

  7. Like I said in the OP, I thought the temple would be a source of stress or fear for me. I had a difficult time understanding where I fit, or where it fit, in the strength of my testimony. I remember telling Natalie H that I would figure out how to be Mormon without ever going to the temple.

    It took a while, but I realized that my fear was coming from a place that was defined for me by other people. At that point in my story, I had never had my own temple experience. For as much as I tried to break the habit, I was still letting other people define my relationship with God for me.

    For me, the “fake temple trip” was an effort to define it for myself and on God’s terms (not members’, not my family’s). Good, bad, or ugly, I needed to find out for myself.

    I’ve been to the temple for baptisms a few times now and, while I wish I had better words to express how I feel about those experiences, I’ve felt comforted. I felt like the space was safe.

    Marie, Nat, and Natalie – you are all writing from a perspective I’ve not yet experienced. While I can’t yet respond with any degree of understanding, I have had very powerful conversations with all three of you about your testimony of the temple. From our conversations, I’ve learned that you have had profound and incredibly different temple experiences. I love that. I love knowing that I can go to you with questions. There is so much comfort knowing that my concerns will be validated as real and handled with care, as they have been so far.

    My fake temple trip taught me a lot, even if physically I only went as far as the recommend desk. A few prayers were answered, many lessons were learned, and relationships with friends were made stronger. I am thankful that, at this point in my story, my temple-going experiences have brought me closer to people I love so much.

    I recognize that not everyone has positive experiences at or memories of the temple. Nat and Natalie, we’ve talked about this before. I’m grateful that our experiences range from the best to the worst and that there isn’t, from what I understand, a standard one-size-fits-all mold to which I must conform. I am grateful that I am able to define it for myself (knowing that my definition will change as I continue learning), learn what I am prepared to learn, and run to you, my spiritual mentors, when I need help.

    I’m still learning how to define things for myself and to let my answered prayers be mine. This isn’t easy. I spent most of my life letting other people define my relationship with God, and breaking that habit is obnoxiously hard.

    As silly as this sounds, after my baptism, the “fake temple trip” was another team meeting between LadyMo and God. Yeah, that was an awful analogy, but it’s 2:30 a.m. – I’ll work on it.

    Also, I freaking adore the three of you. I’m grateful for you in my life. I know that I couldn’t be where I am right now without you as mentors. Love you for that 🙂

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