Nearly a decade ago, one Latter-day Saint sister endured the unthinkable for a mother—the loss of her son to suicide. After years of heartache and struggling with tremendous guilt, suffering, and "what ifs," this sister found a sweet peace in the temple.
During a 2019 BYU Women's Conference keynote address, Sister Rebecca M. Pinegar, assistant matron in the Provo temple, detailed this temple worker's experience.
This sister's son was a gifted musician who graduated with a degree in biomedical engineering, but since his teenage years he struggled with depression. Sister Pinegar shares, "Ten years ago, he shared that he was gay. In the course of his struggles, he had his name removed from the records of the Church [and became estranged from his family]. . . . Eight and a half years ago, this beautiful boy took his own life. My friend talked of her grief and the years of tremendous guilt and suffering. Grief grows many 'what ifs.'"
While grappling with these emotions, this sister had a tender experience in the temple, allowing her to testify of the power we receive from those on the other side of the veil. "While in the temple, she heard her [deceased] mother tell her, 'I am taking care of him,'" Sister Pinegar shares. She then related a letter from this brave mother:
"One of the great desires of my heart has always been that my husband and I would someday have all of our children and their spouses in the temple at the same time. And so, I began to pray that our son would do the necessary things to qualify for baptism again. I prayed for years that I would feel the promptings when it was time to have him re-baptized in the temple, because I knew he needed time before he was ready to accept the ordinance. I wanted to feel him there when it happened. "Four years ago, I felt impressed to write to Salt Lake and ask for permission to have our son re-baptized. I received a letter and a temple ordinance card and kept it in a safe place for the special day. In January of this year my prayers were answered when both my husband and I began having promptings to go to the temple for our son. The day of our son’s baptism was very special. . . . I had prayed that I would feel my son’s presence and I did—in prayer meeting, at the font and in the chapel awaiting confirmation. I know without a doubt that he accepted these ordinances and is happy! I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for this blessing. I am also thankful that I have felt lifted and have a lighter heart. I feel like the last vestiges of guilt and pain have been swept away and I feel cleansed just as he is. I only have thoughts of love and forgiveness and closeness towards my son. The healing that we can have because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real! He is there and will mend our broken hearts."
While Sister Pinegar related this touching miracle, she also notes "that the Lord loves us and is anxious to speak to us, mostly in small and simple ways. . . . When we discount the revelations we receive, we put at risk the next revelation. Small and simple revelations, acted upon, will give birth to the next revelation and will build a foundation for time and for all eternity."
To illustrate these small and simple revelations, Sister Pinegar gave an example from the journal of Joseph F. Smith who one day recorded a remarkable revelation that Brigham Young was the prophet called at that time and the next day recorded, "spent the day gathering the cows."
"We mustn’t discount these days. They are our opportunity to act upon simple promptings, which over time build a powerful foundation," Sister Pinegar testifies.
During her keynote address, Sister Pinegar shared this quote from President Russell M. Nelson: "This is the grand privilege of every Latter-day Saint . . . that it is our right to have the manifestations of the Spirit every day of our lives. . . . The privilege of receiving revelation is one of the greatest gifts of God to His children. Through the manifestations of the Holy Ghost, the Lord will assist us in all our righteous pursuits. . . . If Joseph Smith’s transcendent experience in the Sacred Grove teaches us anything, it is that the heavens are open and that God speaks to His children."
Using the example of Joseph Smith, Sister Pinegar shared patterns through which these revelations can come:
1. Seeking revelation engages us in an eternal war.
Sister Pinegar detailed how revelation can aid us as we continue on earth the war that began in heaven, a war in which "our most effective weapon is God’s redeeming love." She quoted President Nelson, saying we "were taught in the spirit world to prepare [us] for anything and everything [we] would encounter during this latter part of these latter days. That teaching endures within [us]."
2. We all have individual journeys and must remain firm and humble in the face of adversity.
While in these trials, Sister Pinegar says we can find peace and power in the temple: "The temple is a place of revelation. For example, covenants we make there reveal God and His Son. When we make a covenant of obedience and keep that covenant, God reveals himself to us, and we reveal our own God-like nature to ourselves."
3. We should turn to the scriptures.
Sister Pinegar testifies, "When I am searching, or preparing, the windows of heaven open as I really concentrate on the scriptures. It doesn’t happen when I read to fulfill a goal or to check off a box. When I read with sincere interest, I always find wonder and new insights, even when they are the same insights I have already had but forgotten. These insights help me ‘remember, remember.'"
4. We should practice obedience and reflect on our experiences.
Sister Pinegar teaches, "We know we need wisdom, and we know God knows all. . . . Our confidence and revelations will grow in life as the word of the Lord becomes as the marrow of our bones."
5. Prayer will open the powers of heaven for us.
Sister Pinegar reminded those listening to follow the prophet's challenge to pray to know if God loves you. That knowledge and foundation will be essential as we learn to receive revelation. Sharing a quote from Elder Richard G. Scott, Sister Pinegar says: "'Often when we pray . . . Heavenly Father will give us gentle promptings that require us to think, exercise faith, work, at times struggle, then act. . . . Seldom will you receive a complete response all at once. It will come a piece at a time.' God’s timing often refines us and teaches us patience, as well as a multitude of important lessons."
6. We should trust God.
Sister Pinegar teaches, "To ignore, or worse, to deny Him is to deny our own identity, our own existence. It is because of Him that we live, breathe, think, feel, hear, see, heal, and grow."
7. Turning to the temple will bring the divine into our lives.
Sister Pinegar shares:
"The patterns we learn [in the temple] are infinite. In the temple, we walk symbolically from our premortal life, through this life, and after qualifying, arrive in the Celestial Kingdom. Along the way, we make and keep sacred covenants. One of the profound blessings of the temple walk is that we are guided so we can do it just as the Lord intends it to be done. Symbolically, we essentially get to practice our earthly walk perfectly. The more often we walk that temple journey, the more familiar and comfortable the walk becomes, and the more power we have to walk the same walk outside the temple correctly. How blessed we are to be handed this gift, or endowment, that teaches us how to pattern our lives so that we can return to His presence."
8. We should accept the Lord's blessings into our lives, regardless of our weakness.
Sister Pinegar concludes, "As we pattern our lives after the righteous patterns of those the Lord calls to preside over us, even in their weakness, I know we will be numbered with the pure in heart, noble, and virtuous, and we will receive the multiplicity of blessings associated with that numbering."