Leaving Worldly Labels at the Temple Doors

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By Lauren Madsen

As I walked from my car through the parking lot to the temple entrance, I tried not to be annoyed at the man walking in front of me, who had just cut me off in traffic minutes earlier. A few more steps and I noticed a couple get out of their very expensive car and I wondered what kind of job he had to be able to afford a car like that. At the temple doors, a woman hurried past me to scan her recommend, and I made mental guesses as to why she was rushing. I made the walk across the temple, down the stairs to the ordinance worker dressing room, passing several paintings of the Savior along the way. While changing into my white temple dress I could feel the “natural man” parts of me fade into the background. I was there to serve.



I opened the door to the celestial room and did a quick scan as I took my position. An elderly woman and a younger woman, who appeared to be her daughter, whispered quietly in one corner. In the opposite corner a middle-age woman sat with her arms folded, head bowed, as tears trickled silently down her cheeks. On one of the sofas in the center of the room, a young couple sat with hands clasped as the woman rested her head on the man’s shoulder. A few feet away from them, a young man sat on the floor, his back resting against the wall, with his eyes lifted upward to the ornate ceiling. A small group gathered at the far end of the room, smiling and hugging as they surrounded a young woman who I assumed was going through the temple for the first time.

As I stood near the doors at my assigned post, an impression came to my mind. When each of us in the room had walked through the front doors of the temple that morning, we left our labels at the door. I didn’t know which callings any of the brothers and sisters in the room held. I didn’t know what they did for a living, if they were educated, which neighborhood they lived in, or what kind of cars they drove. From where I was standing I couldn’t tell whether they were married or single, or if they had children or not. They could have been lifelong members or recent converts. Each person in the room had a story, and each person came to the temple with unique desires and trials. 

I was reminded of two things. First, in 4 Nephi the people were happy when there were “no manner of -ites.” Second, I was reminded of President Russell M. Nelson’s warning about identifiers and labels. He said, “The adversary rejoices in labels because they divide us and restrict the way we think about ourselves and each other. How sad it is when we honor labels more than we honor each other.” In those moments in the celestial room I was so grateful to see others through the lens of what President Nelson taught are our three most important identifiers: children of God, children of the covenant, and disciples of Jesus Christ. 

I thought about Jeffrey R. Holland’s teaching: “When the love of God sets the tone for our own lives, for our relationships to each other and ultimately our feeling for all humankind, then old distinctions, limiting labels, and artificial divisions begin to pass away, and peace increases.” The love of God I felt in the temple was about so much more than my relationship with Him. A measure of His love for me and all His children poured into me, and I was seeing others in a whole new way. A holier way. It was a feeling I wanted to hold on to. I pray that His love will go with me, that it will change me so completely that labels will not only be left at the doors at the temple, but left behind completely. I am seeing why President Gordon B. Hinckley urged, “In this noisy, bustling, competitive world, what a privilege it is to have a sacred house where we may experience the sanctifying influence of the Spirit of the Lord. … I encourage you to take greater advantage of this blessed privilege. It will refine your natures.” 

1 comment

  • Nancy Glazier

    Thank you for this beautiful article!! My sentiments exactly! So eloquently put❣️

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