By Hollie Wells
Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy
beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for
henceforth there shall no more come into thee the
uncircumcised and the unclean. Isaiah 52:1
Aside from my wedding day, I don’t usually wear all white. Neither do I, aside from a choir concert, usually see entire rooms of people wearing the same color and similar style of dress. The separateness of the temple from the surrounding telestial world is made more stark and beautifully apparent by the clothes we wear inside. And, as many general authorities have commented, the sameness of clothing is an indicator of our standing before God– all as equals. As Nephi says, “He inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God,” which is a conviction completely opposite from the divided world we live in that only seeks to emphasize differences in appearance and belief.
This is why, though I may be alone in the strangeness of this opinion, the locker room of the temple is one of my favorite places.
After spending some time away from the temple due to COVID-19-related closures, I remember so vividly the first time I got to go back for a proxy ordinance. I remember the excitement as I got ready, drove up, went through the doors, and scanned my temple recommend. Nothing, though, could have prepared me for the sweetly overwhelming feelings I had as I changed my clothes. I truly experienced the covenantal rest that President Nelson promised and preached about in the recent General Conference. I sensed that I was putting away the heavy loads of exhaustion and uncertainty that accompanied everyday life in exchange for a peaceful hour or two in a sacred space.
Neal A. Maxwell said “The putting off of the natural man makes possible the putting on of the whole armor of God, which would not fully fit before!” (Plow in Hope, April 2001 General Conference) I see this symbolized in the taking off of our common clothes to put on the simple white clothing characteristic of temple patrons.
Now, every time I get dressed in the temple, I envision myself taking off the world’s issues, the natural man, and meager and myopic cares of everyday mortal living in exchange for a peaceful and celestial way of thinking and being. And, the most amazing part is, God promises us that we can leave stronger and more capable of carrying that weight (see Doctrine and Covenants 109:22-26). We don’t have to take off the “beautiful garments” (Isaiah 52:1) when we change back into our regular clothes at the end of our temple experience.