3. I can embrace and learn from my discomfort.
While the temple is beautiful, unexpected, and ennobling, it has challenged and changed me in the most poignant, personal ways. As Anthony Sweat explains:
“Though your feelings in the temple will hopefully be primarily positive, you also need to pay attention to what makes you feel confused, challenged, or perhaps even unsettled. These feelings can be equally important and instructive. Some people have introduced the idea in Mormonism that anything that causes discomfort is inherently incorrect or not from God. That simply cannot always be true. If it were, the pioneers wouldn’t have trekked to Utah, Abraham wouldn’t have offered Isaac, young men and women wouldn’t venture out to uncertain mission fields, and Jesus wouldn’t have atoned for us. An old saying is that the gospel is here to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, and the temple is no exception. In the endowment, there are pointed lines of instruction, warnings for the unfaithful, dialogue to discern, difficult concepts to grasp, and unfamiliar symbols and gestures.
“There may even be aspects of the temple that contradict your own cultural or doctrinal viewpoints, causing mental discomfort as you try to reconcile why your thinking may not be aligned with what is presented in the temple. . . .
“It’s possible that as you participate in this ancient order you may feel a little uncertain at times, but remember that many people feel uncertain when experiencing something unfamiliar, even when it’s right and good. Rest assured, ‘All that occurs within the walls of the temple is uplifting and ennobling,’ but don’t confuse being uplifted with being fully comfortable and familiar. To uplift means to edify, to grow, or to bring nearer to God (see D&C 50:20–22). God desires our growth and development, but that growth usually requires some discomfort to move us off of spiritual beaches where we have been resting too long. Don’t flee from this discomfort or think it erroneous. Like Jacob, wrestle with what God and His angels place in front of you (see Genesis 32:24–30). This wrestle will enable God to bless you to see Him more clearly.”
As I began attending the temple regularly, I was caught off guard by the days I would return home feeling unsettled, my mind racing. I grappled with guilt, wondering if I had done something wrong, questioning why I didn’t feel the peaceful calm I usually experienced in the temple.
But as I have begun to pay attention to and wrestle with those feelings and questions instead of burying them, I’ve received surprising revelation and eventually discovered a peace that lasts longer than a two-hour temple visit.
4. My temple garments are infinitely more significant than I anticipated.
When I prepared to receive my garments for the first time, I was more worried about the practicality of wearing garments with my wardrobe than understanding what they signified. With time and a little gentle chastisement from loving Heavenly Parents, my view of garments has drastically changed since that first temple visit.
Garments are not a nuisance or a hindrance to fashion. Garments are sacred. They are a protection. They provide power. They demonstrate our commitment to the Savior. They “are a piece of the temple we can always carry with us,” as my good friend Katie Lambert says. Take care of how you speak of and treat this remarkable gift from our loving Heavenly Parents.
As Elder Asay says, speaking of the power garments provide:
"The heavy armor worn by soldiers of a former day, including helmets, shields, and breastplates, determined the outcome of some battles. However, the real battles of life in our modern day will be won by those who are clad in a spiritual armor—an armor consisting of faith in God, faith in self, faith in one’s cause, and faith in one’s leaders. The piece of armor called the temple garment not only provides the comfort and warmth of a cloth covering, it also strengthens the wearer to resist temptation, fend off evil influences, and stand firmly for the right."
Remember every day how lucky you are to be worthy of and wear temple garments and I promise you will begin to see the ways they can transform your life for the better.
5. The temple ordinances are more familiar than any of us can imagine.
My first time in the temple, I wondered why there weren’t more physical depictions of the Savior or His Atonement. Wasn’t that the focal point of our religion? But as I listened to a recent presentation by Brad Wilcox at the FairMormon Conference, he taught that the Savior is in every symbol and action in the temple. In fact, the endowment is not a reenactment of Christ’s Atonement but a reenactment of how the Savior and His Atonement work in our lives. It is personal. It is familiar. It is eternal. In the temple, we find echoes of all that we once knew and now know.
I know it sounds oxymoronic to say the temple can be uncomfortable and unexpected at times but always familiar, but I promise you this is true. The temple is not a completely new experience—it reflects our celestial origins, our ancestral roots, and our future heavenly home. In the temple, angels surround you at every step—the angels of loved ones who are never distant from you, the angels of ancestors who you can serve, and the angels of spirits you knew and will know in eternity.
The entire purpose of the temple is to restore relationships. In the temple, we heal familial relationships through the spirit of Elijah. We create new eternal relationships and expand God’s family. And we reestablish our loving, unceasing, and incorruptible relationship with our Heavenly Parents and our Savior.
It is these relationships that teach us that celestial means family—that exaltation does not come alone. It is only through Christ, through the divine, and through each other that we obtain eternal life.