Am I Missing Something Here?

    February 7, 2020
    “Maybe I’ll just take a break from the endowment for a while,” I thought while I sat in my car, feeling guilty after attending an endowment session in the temple. Yet again, during what should be the pinnacle of my worship experience, I had concentrated more on staying attentive than learning from the Spirit.
    I have always had a strong testimony of the temple as the house of the Lord and as the place where the highest ordinances of my faith are done. However, the endowment has always been the exact opposite of my learning style. Often, especially as a sleep-deprived mom, I found myself fighting to even stay awake as I participated in the temple endowment.
    I’d been faithfully going to endowment sessions for five years, and yet every time I went, I felt like asking the question, “Am I missing something here?”
    I felt my sense of guilt keenly whenever I read this from the temple preparation handbook: “If you will go to the temple and remember that the teaching is symbolic, you will never go in the proper spirit without coming away with your vision extended, feeling a little more exalted, with your knowledge increased as to things that are spiritual.”
    I would think, “Am I not going in the proper spirit? Am I forgetting the symbolic nature of the ordinance?”
    The Lord will teach us in His house. He has promised it, and we can count on His promises. But His path is not our path. His ways are not our ways. And His teachings might be different than what we think we are coming to learn.
    And there I was, sitting in the car, tired of the guilt. Tired of trying. Ready for a break. But then, as I opened my scriptures the next day for my daily scripture study, I felt a gentle pull from the Spirit suggesting I start studying faith. I followed the prompting, and I realized that I wasn’t having a faith crisis—I was having an opportunity to practice my faith.
    As I read about how faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen” (Hebrews 11:1), it hit me that faith is believing, even when I don’t see or understand something. It is something of substance I can hold on to, even when all I can do is hope.
    Faith isn’t necessary where there is knowledge. Faith is the stepping-stone that leads us to knowledge. It is the solid ground we can choose when everything around us is shaking.
    Faith has nothing to do with what we don’t know, and everything to do with where we turn when we don’t know.
    We can doubt our faith because we feel we don’t understand certain principles. But a lack of understanding is not a lack of faith—it is just a fact of faith.
    I realized that my faith didn’t reside in the endowment, and it didn’t reside in any other aspect of the gospel, either. My faith resided in the Savior, who could help me in that moment to have faith as I struggled to understand aspects of His gospel.
    So I chose faith.
    I decided to go to the temple every week until something happened—anything, really. And every week, as I walked out of the temple not understanding what I was supposed to get out of it, I chose faith again. And again.
    After a couple of months, I was praying, telling God my struggles. I told Him all the reasons focusing during the endowment was hard for me.
    And I got two words back: “I know.”
    I felt a flood of God’s awareness of me. He knew ME. He knew why it was hard for me to focus in the endowment.
    And He loved that I was going anyway. He wasn’t judging me or withholding blessings because of my imperfections; He was letting the blessings and knowledge pour down because I was where I needed to be. He helped me in that moment unfold a bit of my history to understand what I had learned during the past years in the temple.
    Isaiah wrote, “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord [...] and he will teach us of his ways” (Isaiah 2:3). I now look at those words, along with that paragraph from the temple preparation handbook, with confidence instead of guilt.
    The Lord will teach us in His house. He has promised it, and we can count on His promises. But His path is not our path. His ways are not our ways. And His teachings might be different than what we think we are coming to learn.
    Looking back, I can see that my vision was extended, and my spiritual knowledge was increased. Along with other important insights, each visit brought me a little more understanding of the true meaning of faith.
    I wasn’t missing something. I was being taught all along.
    Now I am content in sitting with the Lord, having faith in Him and confidence in His promises, as I gain further light in His house.

    Mary Stallings

    Mary Stallings lives in Missouri with her two sons and husband. She loves camping, peonies, pajamas, and snail mail. She is a writer and is passionate about finding everyday, real-life applications in the scriptures.