This is an excerpt from the book Refuge and Reality: The Blessings of the Temple by John H. Groberg.
After a stake conference at which I spoke on the blessings of regular temple attendance, a young woman named Linda asked if she could visit me in my office.
When we later met, she said she was confused because she believed everything I had said at the conference but so far none of the promised blessings had come to her and she wondered why. She explained that she had grown up in the Church, served a full-time mission, graduated from college, and had been teaching for several years at a local grade school. She presently served as a Primary leader, participated actively in her ward, and attended the temple regularly.
She then recounted the promises I had made to all who, with an honest heart and sincere desire to help others, attend the temple regularly. I was impressed by the accuracy of her notes and her memory. She reminded me that I had promised the congregation that the Lord would inspire them on how to overcome their personal challenges and thus receive joy and fulfillment. She quoted me as saying, “At times that help might come by having our challenges put into an eternal perspective that we can understand and live with, in patience and hope.” She then reviewed several other promises I had made and asked if they were valid.
I responded, “You take good notes and have a great memory. Those are things I said, and those are things I believe.”
“I want to believe them also,” she replied. “I have been attending the temple regularly for several years, but I am still single, and the joy of a family I have hoped and prayed for has not come. In fact, my challenges seem to be increasing. Since I believe you are telling the truth, I want to ask, What’s wrong with me?”
Seldom have I been at a greater loss for words or felt a greater need for divine inspiration. She was an attractive young woman, maybe not beautiful as the world defines that term, but she was attractive and filled with goodness. What would God have me say to her?
It would be nice to have a ready answer for everyone on every subject, but some situations seem to be beyond our current ability to comprehend or articulate. That is how I felt as I looked into her faithful, waiting eyes. Slowly thoughts began to form in my mind, and I asked, “Does your coming to the temple make you feel better or worse?”
“Of course I feel better,” she replied. “I love the temple. It is not the temple I am questioning—it’s me! There is nothing wrong with the temple, just with me. What is it?”
A burst of inspiration came, and I replied, “Linda, there is nothing wrong with you, at least not in the way you are thinking. Your bishop and stake president have found you worthy to enter the Lord’s house. God loves you. He is pleased with your desires to help others. He knows your heart. He has blessed you greatly and will continue to do so. No one can have a greater blessing than to know that they are worthy to enter the temple—to know that they are a son or daughter of God—to know that He loves them—to know that He has sent His Beloved Son to suffer and die for them—to know that through faith in Him and obedience to Him, they can enjoy eternal life. Do you believe these things?”
“Yes, I do!”
“Linda, I testify that God knows you and loves you fully. He knows your feelings and frustrations and everything you are going through. He is by your side, closer than you can imagine. He is pleased with your faithfulness and your desire and willingness to serve others in the temple and elsewhere.
“Time as we know it is a mortal measure and does not exist with God (see Alma 40:8). He has decreed that certain things need to be accomplished in mortality; however, the main thing we must accomplish while here is to develop deep faith in and love for our Savior. As we patiently persist in this faith and love to the end of our mortal lives, it does not matter whether certain events that were beyond our control came to pass in mortality. God’s promise to the faithful is that everything necessary for eternal life will happen sometime, somewhere, someway. On the other hand, if we are not faithful here and do not increase our love, our patience, and our faith in God, it doesn’t matter what things may have occurred here; they lose their value because all eternal blessings are based on faithfulness.”
I asked her to stay close to her parents and to follow the counsel of her bishop, as she had her mission president. I reminded her to study the scriptures, pray, and serve whenever and wherever called. I also asked her to read her patriarchal blessing over and over again and do everything in her power to be worthy of those promises being fulfilled. I promised her that as she faithfully did these things, she could then “stand . . . still, and see the salvation of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 20:17). I concluded by saying that she likely had been told many times before to be faithful and patient, but I needed to say it again, for that is what the Lord impressed me to say.
She looked down for what seemed a long time. A tear ran down her cheek, and I sensed a slight tremor as she closed her eyes. Finally she looked up, smiled, and said softly, “Thank you. I do know what is right. I do want to be faithful and obedient. I love the temple. I know it is where I should be. I look forward to helping others—in school, in Primary, in the temple, and in many other places. It is just that I . . . I thought things would be different. I have to confess that sometimes I just get tired of waiting. Thank you for assuring me that all the ‘events’ needed for my eternal joy will happen at some point if I continue faithful. I believe this. I promise you I will continue to be patient and faithful and keep helping and hoping. Please understand that sometimes it is just plain hard to wait.”
I assured her that I understood. I also reminded her that each of us faces our own individual challenges, which God customizes for our personal growth.
“Don’t worry,” she said. “I’ll be all right. It is good to know that there is nothing major wrong with me and that God still loves me. Thanks for listening.”
She smiled, expressed her love and appreciation, and left.
I was deeply moved by the goodness, faithfulness, and testimony of this wonderful daughter of God and felt impressed to say an extra prayer for her and others in similar circumstances. As I did, I began to think about her question and her response to my words and started wondering how many other faithful daughters of God are patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) waiting for the “salvation of the Lord.” I had the feeling that there are many such on both sides of the veil and wondered what more I could do to help. I realized that many young men and young women have challenges that I am not aware of, but God is. Ultimately, all fear and uncertainty are resolved by exercising more faith in the Savior. He is the only One through whom we can overcome all things.
I knew I didn’t have all the answers, but I also knew that the ultimate answer for all of us who struggle with these and other challenges is having greater faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. As we actually trust Him and take the needed steps—sometimes in semidarkness—He will help us break free of the chains of fear and uncertainty and move us over the chasm of doubt to the bright light and joy of faith fulfilled. There is nothing wrong with any of us that more and deeper faith in the Lord Jesus Christ won’t overcome.
When the heavy troubles of the “real world” bombard your soul, where do you go for refuge?
The peace and safety of the temple make God's holy house a refuge for many world-weary Saints. When Elder John H. Groberg served as president of the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple, he often encountered Church members who would express their regret at having to leave the temple and reenter the “real world.”
Through treasured experiences and stories, Elder Groberg affirms that the temple represents the “real world” of the eternities. He writes: “That which lasts forever is real; that which does not last forever is not real. The temple is the real world, not this temporal one.”
As we seek to know our real selves and to see the real beauty in the world and people around us, this inspirational volume will direct our understanding toward the eternal answers found in the temple. The hope and strength we need are there: Our mortal burdens are made light, empty longing is filled, and when we leave that holy place, we can take with us the “real world” comfort and power of heaven.