Putting faith before fear isn’t always easy. As I heard about the bombings in the New York area today, I was reminded of a different experience I had while in New York City a year ago.
I was visiting a friend in New Jersey and was excited to finally see the big city next door that I had heard so much about. One of the top things on my list to visit was the Manhattan New York Temple. The first day I arrived, my friend still had to work during the day, so she and I decided that I would explore on my own in the morning and then meet her at the temple for the last session of the day.
I enjoyed myself immensely during the day, taking my time at the Statue of Liberty and 9/11 Memorial Museum—places I had wanted to see for years—but toward the end of the day, I knew I needed to start finding my way to the temple to meet up with my frend.
I’m not great with directions and had relied on a taxi service most of the day to get where I was going, but I had to take the subway to get to the temple. I found myself on the wrong subway platform more than once, and by the time I found someone who recognized where I was tring to get to and was able to tell me how to get there, the excitement of the new sights and sounds of the day had worn off. I was exhausted, a little overwhelmed, and more than ready for something familiar.
As I walked up the stairs from the subway, I remembered my friend telling me that the temple was right across the street from the subway stop. But when I reached the top, all the buildings looked the same. It was dark, everything was tall and unfamiliar, and I was immediately worried I was lost again. Then the thought came, “look up.” As I did, I noticed something tiny standing out against the tall office buildings—the familiar gold-leafed shine of angel Moroni atop a tall spire.
I’d never been so overjoyed to see that beautiful beacon! An enormous feeling of relief washed over me, and I realized that I had perhaps been more anxious than I realized. I quickly made my way to the temple and eventually met up with my friend. As we went through an endowment session, the worries and fears of the afternoon faded away. The noise of the city, which I hadn’t noticed until I was tired and lost, was more starkly contrasted with the quiet peace of the temple than I ever remembered before, and somehow made me feel cleaner—like the busy-ness of my unfamiliar surroundings was being washed away. The only way I could describe it was like the feeling you get when you come home to a place where you know you are safe and loved.
I think about this experience every so often when the events of the world leave me feeling uncertain and unsettled. There’s a scripture that I think describes it perfectly: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
The temple truly is a haven in my life. It reminds me of my eternal identity and the temporariness of the hard things that happen in the world. I love this quote from Elder Cook from October 2007 general conference: “It is our faith in Jesus Christ that sustains us at the crossroads of life’s journey. It is the first principle of the gospel. Without it we will spin our wheels at the intersection, spending our precious time but getting nowhere.” In a world where things are uncertain and sometimes scary, I’ve learned that I can still find joy and hope as long as I remember to focus my faith on my Savior.