READER POST: When I was 19, I made the conscious decision to be baptized against my parents’ wishes. In response, they refused to accept the invitation. I remember looking at how beautiful the sky was that day. I had never see such a bluer sky with a more perfect ratio of clouds.
At 23, I went through the temple for the first time. I had taken the temple prep class and interviews required, but I continued to feel extremely unprepared. I had spoken in great length to my friend who was to serve as my escort, but she told me how strange and weird it was that she did not feel comfortable enough to speak on what happened beyond the baptismal font. I had not even thought about speaking with my fiance or his family. I had only seen garments once in my life, thanks to my escort showing me. My parents were gracious enough to pay for the items needed in the temple despite not being able to go past the lobby.
The endowment was such a swirl of emotions, and I was trying to follow along with people who performed like clockwork, not skipping a beat. In the Celestial room I was greeted by my future in-laws offering congratulations and hugs. My fiance sat with me, holding my hand, while I took everything in. For a moment I almost forgot about the people who had raised me–until I returned to the hotel to see them watching TV. I could not speak to them about my experience at the temple, because they did not understand and I thought I could not speak on anything I had seen or done. I remember the sky was full of stars that night.
The following morning, my fiance and I were to be sealed. As I waited for him in the Celestial room, I tried to mentally prepare myself for a ceremony I had little knowledge on, because, once again, no one spoke about it. When we were escorted into the Sealing Room, I looked around. It felt so empty. My mother-in-law sat next to my fiance. The chair remained empty next to mine.
I scanned the small room to see strangers’ faces. I would not realize how empty and how alone I truly felt until I would witness my husband’s siblings being sealed to their spouses and how they had their parents and family next to them.
Most family members who have seen me silently crying or staring at the floor to hold back the tears at those special occasions have not understood, or they refuse to understand, why a person would find sorrow in the temple. I have received the following comments:
- “Your parents will join someday if you keep trying to teach them.”(They will not.)
- “Maybe you need to go back more with your husband and father-in-law so they can explain it better to you.”
- “You should be thankful that your child will be sealed to you.”
- “Only the worthy are allowed into the House of the Lord.”
On the day I was married in the temple, the heavens rained. The rain cleared the moment we arrived for our ring ceremony.
Since being sealed, I have yet to find the peace and comfort in the temple that people frequently describe in church meetings. For years, I questioned what was wrong with me and tried going to the temple to seek solace. Each time I left, I came out with even more questions rather than answers. I questioned, how in the world did I make it through my own sealing by myself with no mother sitting next to me or father to witness? When I watch sealings, I always stare at the chair to the right of the bride; that memory of it being vacant is forever burned into my mind.
When I finally had the courage to speak to my bishop about my concerns, I was told, “Do you not have a testimony of the temple? I’ve never heard of anyone having any issues with the temple.” I came with questions only to be questioned about whether I was truly worthy of entering a house of learning. How can I learn without asking questions?
One instance gives me a spark of hope that someday I might find the peace and comfort on my own terms. During the sealing of my brother-in-law to his wife, the sealer, a grandfather-in-law, pulled me aside in the sealing room while the others lined up to congratulate the newlyweds. He commented while both of us looked on at the newlyweds, “Don’t give up. I’m so proud of you, but don’t give up. You are truly a pioneer in your family and I admire your courage. Your parents are great people, don’t ever forget that.”
This is the small spark that keeps me questioning, learning, and trying to comprehend. I may be an outlier, and outcast for my mind and life, but I know I am loved by my Heavenly Parents and that they won’t give up on me.
Reader Bio: Lynn spends her days teaching the youth of tomorrow, and her evenings chasing a toddler. Lynn is a recent convert trying to find her niche in the LDS world.
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