In April 2009 general conference, Elder Gary E. Stevenson gave a powerful talk about the sacred relationship between the temple and the home. Referring to the story of King Benjamin directing his people to gather and turn the doors of their tents to the temple, he said, “Not only can we turn the doors of our homes to the temple, or the house of the Lord; we can make our homes a ‘house of the Lord.”
Let’s look at the last part of that quote once again—“we can make our homes a ‘house of the Lord.’” That’s a beautiful concept, and one worth striving for. Just imagine what our homes could be like if they were a little bit more like the temple and how much more often the Spirit would be present there. The thought of creating a holier home may seem daunting, but don’t let that deter you. All that matters is that we improve in little ways that make sense for our living situation and circumstances.
So where do we start? There are all kinds of ideas you could implement, and some may suit your needs better than others. But here are three actionable ideas that can help you get going.
1. Dedicate Your Home
First, like other church buildings, your home can be dedicated through the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood. But there’s an important difference to note when dedicating your home: according to the Church handbook, “homes are not consecrated to the Lord.” Instead, dedicating your home is simply a beautiful opportunity to involve the Lord in making your home a sacred place.
The Church handbook explains that the person who dedicates the home should be a Melchizedek Priesthood holder. If there is not a Melchizedek Priesthood holder in the home, it may be dedicated by “a close friend, relative, or ministering brother who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood.” Additionally, “homes do not need to be owned or free of debt to be dedicated.”
Dedicating your home may not be as common of an occurrence as other priesthood blessings, but don’t let that keep you from doing it. And the process is actually quite simple—the Church handbook instructs that the Melchizedek Priesthood holder who is dedicating the home should follow these easy steps:
- Address Heavenly Father in prayer.
- State that he is acting by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
- Dedicate the home as a sacred place where the Holy Spirit can reside and give other words as guided by the Spirit. For example, he might bless the home to be a place where family members can worship, find safety from the world, grow spiritually, and prepare for eternal family relationships.
- Close in the name of Jesus Christ.
From these instructions, we can see that dedicating a house isn’t just for the house—it’s for those who will live and grow within its walls. Dedicating your home can help lay the spiritual foundation you need to create a “house of the Lord” now and in the future. While the blessing itself may be simple, it can have a profound impact on you and your loved ones for years to come.
2. Create an Environment That Invites the Spirit
It’s hard not to admire the beautiful environment when you go inside the temple. Whether it’s a piece of artwork, a beautiful vase, or a crystal chandelier, the temple’s interior is always awe-inspiring. But one of the reasons we’re able to appreciate these objects is because each one has a special place and other things aren’t competing for space.
Being in a space without clutter doesn’t just make a room beautiful—it’s also been proven to help with mental health. In 2011, the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute published a study about the effects of clutter in your life. The result was that “When your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus. The clutter also limits your brain’s ability to process information. Clutter makes you distracted and unable to process information as well as you do in an uncluttered, organized, and serene environment.”
Elder Larry R. Lawrence of the Seventy once shared a story about the benefits of living in an organized space. He recalled, “Years ago I read in a Church magazine the story of a girl who was living away from home and going to college. She was behind in her classes, her social life was not what she had hoped for, and she was generally unhappy. Finally one day she fell to her knees and cried out, “What can I do to improve my life?” The Holy Ghost whispered, “Get up and clean your room.” This prompting came as a complete surprise, but it was just the start she needed. After taking time to organize and put things in order, she felt the Spirit fill her room and lift her heart.”
Let’s go back and think once more about the environment in the temple and how the Spirit is always present there. When we’re in the temple, our worries seem to melt away—or we at least have a clearer perspective about them. We can strive for a similar atmosphere in our homes. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we have to install a crystal chandelier, that clutter will never accumulate, or that our house will always be in perfect order. We’re human, and it’s natural for things to be out of place (or even all over the place) depending on the stage of life we’re in. But perhaps as we shift our mindset about cleaning or decluttering from one of completing monotonous tasks to creating an environment where the Spirit can be, then we can enjoy the process a little more.
As we do what we can to make our homes more organized, our problems and frustrations will likely feel smaller because the Spirit will be more present in our lives. And as our negative feelings diminish, our hearts and minds are more likely to be open to receiving the revelation that we need to guide our lives.
3. Have Holier Interactions
One of the main reasons the temple feels like such an uplifting place is because the Spirit is present—and people are an important part of helping the Spirit be there. Think about your experience in the temple and how different it is compared to your daily interactions with others—how smiling to strangers comes more naturally and how we are kinder and more thoughtful in our words and actions.
Sometimes, in our own homes, it’s easy to treat those that we love more casually than we do our friends, acquaintances, or colleagues. Because we know each other so well, it can be easy to grow frustrated, angry, or to place blame on our loved ones. We also might be more likely to judge their actions or compare their successes to our weaknesses. How do we overcome this?
In a worldwide devotional for young adults, Sister Wendy Nelson encouraged listeners to continually ask themselves one question: “What would a holy young adult do?” She continued, “This one question can increase your confidence, decrease your anxiety, motivate you, lift your mood and your sights, increase your productivity, increase your focus and clarity of thinking, help you resist temptation, help you detect deception, increase your gratitude, decrease the stress in your life, increase your capacity to love, and help you make better decisions. This one question can bring you joy, comfort, love, and peace,” she said.
In our homes, when we are stressed or worried, or even when things are going well, we can ask ourselves what a holy person would do and then do our best to act that way. Again, none of us should expect perfection. But if we strive to treat each other as though we were in the temple and see those in our home (including ourselves) with the potential we have as children of God, then our homes can become more like a house of the Lord.
Create Your Own Standard
In his talk, Elder Stevenson encouraged listeners to decide with their families how to make their homes sacred.
“We may be well-advised to consider together, in family council, standards for our homes to keep them sacred and to allow them to be a house of the Lord,’” he said. “The admonition to ‘establish … a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God’ provides divine insight into the type of home the Lord would have us build. Doing such begins the construction of a ‘spiritual mansion’ in which we all may reside regardless of our worldly circumstance.”
Elder Stevenson continued by teaching that as we understand how families and the temple are connected, we will be drawn to both. “There exists a righteous unity between the temple and the home. Understanding the eternal nature of the temple will draw you to your family; understanding the eternal nature of the family will draw you to the temple.”
It’s comforting to know that as we seek to make our temporal homes more sacred, the blessings do not end there. By making these efforts, we will find ourselves more often in the temple, giving us opportunities to make our covenants the center of our lives. In doing so, we are essentially laying the foundation for our eternal mansion when we return to live with our Heavenly Father—and that is certainly a home worth building.
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