By Lauren Madsen
My teenage daughter and I went with our stake on a pioneer trek this summer. It amazed me how much preparation it took to ready ourselves for this experience. We gathered supplies over several weeks and learned what we could about the trails we would be walking. We needed supplies, and we also needed to prepare physically, so we went on many walks around our neighborhood in the heat of the day. It would have been ridiculous if one day we had shown up in Wyoming with just the clothes we were wearing, without supplies or previous physical exercise, and claimed we were good to go.
I think about the many things we do within the Church of Jesus Christ, and also just in life, knowing that there has to be some level of planning and preparation to have an experience. I think for me I looked forward to receiving my endowment, but I was not as prepared as I would have liked. I skimmed through The Holy Temple by Boyd K. Packer, but as a busy college student who was also planning a wedding, I did not prepare for this important event in my life like I should have. In the Temple Endowment section of the gospel library app it states: “Receiving your temple endowment is one of the most sacred experiences of your life. Personal preparation will make it more meaningful and powerful.” It is not just something to check off the list prior to missions or marriages. Receiving your own endowment is a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Here are a few simple things that I wish would have been different:
I wish I would have created a habit of going to the temple regularly. I imagine an established habit would have made the transition from youth baptisms to initiatory and endowment sessions an easier one. I say this knowing that for many around the world attending the temple regularly is not as easy as it would have been for me as a youth. The closest temple to my family growing up was about 15 minutes away. I could have chosen to go weekly or monthly to perform baptisms for the dead, but my visits were more sporadic. This leads me to my next wish.
I wish I would have committed to going regularly after receiving my endowment. Though I had not been consistent as a youth, I could have made and kept the commitment to go regularly once I went through as a young adult. I did not, and I am reminded of President Nelson’s words, “If you don’t yet love to attend the temple, go more often—not less. Let the Lord, through His Spirit, teach and inspire you there. I promise you that over time, the temple will become a place of safety, solace, and revelation.”
I wish I would have had this resource to read and study. Though there are parts of the temple endowment that are too sacred to talk about outside the temple, many parts of the endowment are outlined in this part of the church website, including the five covenants we make and the blessings of temple worship. As a visual learner I am so grateful for this. There was a time when it seemed church members did not speak of some of the things outlined in it because we didn’t know what was okay to talk about and what wasn’t. There is actually a lot we can talk about.
It’s been twenty years since I received my own endowment. My love for the temple and the ordinances performed there has not only grown, but has become a precious part of who I am. Even though receiving my endowment for the first time could have been better prepared for, I later resolved to prepare each time I would leave to go to the temple again. I find an ancestor’s name if possible, I say a prayer, and I try to get there with plenty of time so as to not feel rushed. I never want to take for granted what an opportunity it is to enter the Lord’s house to do His work. I love Elder L. Lionel Kendrick said, “We should always remember that it is by His invitation that we come to His holy house, the temple of the Lord. We should respond to His invitation by being worthy, by being prepared, and by having the temple as a priority in our lives.”
Another great resource to help each of us understand our temple covenants is this easy-to-understand book by Anthony Sweat: The Holy Covenants. This refreshing discussion on temple covenants deals with the sacred nature of the subject matter in a reverent and respectful way.