“I Set My Sights on the Temple,” Ensign, Aug. 1999, 61
I grew up in Arlington, Virginia, and was active in my ward, earning my Young Women awards, attending all my meetings, and dreaming of marrying in the temple and having children. Everything would be wonderful. It seemed a typical Latter-day Saint girl’s dream.
When I went off to college, I was on my own for the first time. It suddenly seemed hard to get up at the crack of dawn to go to church, so I quit going. I started associating with questionable friends. A lot of these friends were doing things I knew were wrong. But because I had grown up in an area with few members, I rationalized that I could handle peer pressure. They can do what they want; it won’t have any affect on me; I’ll never join in, I thought. And I didn’t for about eight months.
But I wasn’t going to church, and one night when things weren’t going well, someone suggested I’d feel better if I joined in and had a drink. I did, and the alcohol dulled my senses and temporarily made me feel better. That was the beginning. The more I got involved, the further I drifted from the gospel. Guilt kept me from going to church, and I fell deeper and deeper into an unhealthy lifestyle.
After several years of this kind of life, I met a man, also an inactive member, who would become my husband. At that point I was in no position to even discuss temple marriage. I didn’t give it a thought. I’m not sure what he saw in me, but we married and after a few years the children came. We moved to a new neighborhood, and that’s when the fellowshipping began. Because of my upbringing, I felt my children should have the same opportunities I had had, so when we were invited to church, I actually started attending with them. After some time I was even given a calling to teach a Primary class.
I didn’t become active overnight, but one day as I talked to my brother, I realized that Heavenly Father loves me. I realized how much the Savior has done for me and how much I love Him for that. He suffered enormously so that I could be forgiven and feel good about myself and start over again. I went to my bishop and started the necessary steps of repentance. My husband, however, was not interested in becoming active in the Church. But he was always supportive and encouraging in my religious desires.
I’ll never forget the day I heard about the opportunity offered to all worthy members of the Church to go to the temple regardless of whether one’s spouse was ready to attend. Serving as Young Women president, I was meeting with the priesthood and auxiliary leaders when our bishop mentioned receiving a letter from President Ezra Taft Benson regarding this. The Relief Society president, whose husband was also not interested in going to the temple, immediately looked at me. Our mouths dropped open, tears came to our eyes, and we experienced the greatest joy I’m sure either of us had felt in a long time. After the meeting, we both rushed to hear more about going to the temple. That same evening my husband met with the bishop to give his permission for me to attend the temple.
I had longed for the blessings of the temple for quite some time. However, my husband, exercising his agency, did not desire the same things I did and did not have the same feelings I had about the gospel. But again he was supportive of my desire to go to the temple. After receiving permission to go, I didn’t rush into it. It was another two months before I actually received my endowment. I felt I needed to prepare myself a little more, and I wanted to wait until my father, who would make the trip to Utah from Virginia, could be with me (my mother had passed away five years earlier).
On 21 May 1986 I went to the Provo Temple with many of my friends and family and received my endowment and entered into covenants with the Lord. I love going to the temple. I love everything about it. I love the peaceful, serene feeling I get when I’m there. I love being in that reverent, sacred place. And I love being involved in the important work that is done within those holy walls.
For the past 13 years my testimony has grown stronger as I’ve been involved in various Church callings, as I’ve tried to teach gospel principles to my family, as I’ve studied the scriptures, and as I’ve attended the temple. My loving husband died just over a year ago, and in December 1998 I realized one of my lifelong ambitions of being sealed together as a family.