The Temple Comes First: How the Temple Has Worked in My Life

This is the story of how we went from nowhere to live to the perfect living arrangements in 12 hours flat.

Once upon a time

March of 2018, I got engaged to a guy I had just met a few months before. (I know; you can learn more about that story here: “Getting Married Young and Fast…”.)

Engagement photo

We decided to get married at the end of the summer and move into a new apartment just in time for school. We knew student housing contracts in our college town would run out quickly, especially the cheap on-campus ones we knew we would need. A couple weeks before our actual, official engagement, we applied for housing with a move-in date in mid-August, a week before the semester would start.

Due to unexpected circumstances, our already-short engagement was cut from five months to just three months.

I was already beyond overwhelmed with wedding planning as I wrapped up a busy semester, but the monster problems was this: 

Where were we going to live?

We quickly had to scramble to find single housing for 6 weeks and family housing for another 6 weeks before we could move into our new place on campus.

We did our best. Between busy school schedules and part-time jobs, Matt and I researched, called, and visited countless complexes seeking a place to stay. We tried asking around. Anything that would even consider working with our unusual timeframe were asking close to double what we could afford.

Okay, the interesting part of the story

Suddenly, it was less than 2 weeks before the end of the semester, and we still didn’t have a plan. I worried Matt would have to live with his family 6 hours away, and I’d be left alone to plan our whole wedding. And I prayed we wouldn’t have to live in my parent’s house in my old room together after we got married.

We had spent the whole Saturday driving around town, and my standards (which had never been very high) were plummeting. My morale was worse.

That night, we had made plans to go to the temple together to do an endowment session.

I had desperately, faithlessly said: “Matt, I just don’t know if we can afford to go to the temple today. We need to find somewhere to live.”

He looked at me. He thought a moment. “Jess, I don’t think we can afford to not go to the temple today.”

That’s when I knew I had chosen the right guy.

a photo from another temple trip during our engagement

I sighed but tried to repent as he took me to the temple. We prayed with all the faith we could muster (clearly, mine was pretty meager) that God would help us.

I didn’t know what would possibly be different in the morning, but I rested surprisingly well that night.

Miracles start to roll in

The next morning, my mom told me,

“I found somewhere for you to live.”

I was shocked!

“Last night, I had an idea to message [a friend], and I think it was from the Spirit. I remembered hearing that they had another house. I asked them if there was any way you guys could rent it for 6 weeks in the summer, and how much that might cost.

“He texted me back early this morning. He told me, ‘The answer is yes! But the rent is non-negotiable. It’s free.’”

We later discovered that he had only just been feeling an impression that there was someone who needed their help. When he saw the message, he knew we were who God wanted him to help!

There was no way I would have imagined this solution just the night before—and, I believe, no way I would have arrived at any solution half as good on my own. It’s almost like God has a plan. Weird, right?

An engagement photo

The blessings continue

As for single housing until the wedding, two generous friends offered us each a bedroom for a few weeks. Between their kindness and my parents’ opening my old bedroom, too, we successfully stayed off the streets for the duration of our engagement—and even got to stay just a stone’s throw away from each other.

Matt’s dad gifted us our honeymoon. Between his timeshare and frequent flyer miles, he lined up the perfect trip: an all-inclusive resort on the beach of the Dominican Republic. We only had to pay for food and a couple of Lyft rides. However, the timing didn’t shake out quite right; it wasn’t available until a week after our wedding.

God came in clutch again. Through the generosity of yet more people, we had the perfect solution: we stayed at my grandparents’ cabin the first week. Again, it was free to us, besides food gas for the 2-hour drive.

That’s how we ended up with a very, very inexpensive, but very, very dreamy 2-week honeymoon.

Then we returned straight to the charming house, rent-free. We stayed there until we moved back to college.

We were utterly spoiled that summer: staying at a cozy cabin in the woods by ourselves, then at an all-inclusive tropical resort, then in a beautiful home and perfect yard. Knowing how well God blessed us that summer, it wasn’t hard to stay humble even as we moved into the small, 500-foot, dated apartment without air conditioning.

On the beach in the Dominican Republic. Also about 50 feet from our hotel room. I know, right?

My family will never forget the lesson God taught us that day:

When you feel like your life is just too hard, too busy, too overwhelming, or too whatever, that is the time to prioritize the temple in your life. God will help the pieces fall into place where they need to go after that.

2022

Me now

I love my life now, but there are things I miss about being single and newly married. One of those things is my weekly temple trips.

Between debilitating pregnancies, babies, and, of course, COVID closures, I felt my connection with the temple waning. I am grateful to my husband, other family, and a couple of friends who have helped make it possible to attend the temple more as of late, albeit less frequently than pre-circa-2019.

As my husband and I have returned with more consistency and frequency to the temple, I have noticed some changes. I would say our testimonies and obedience to commandments had generally maintained well during those years of sparse temple attendance, but some things had waned in ways I had not perceived. Here are some fruits I have seen just in my own family:

  • Improved remembrance of covenants.
  • Improved understanding of God’s plan.
  • Greater access to personal revelation.
  • Greater closeness as a couple.
  • Stronger drive to repentance.
  • Stronger motivation to increase spiritual momentum.
  • Increased peace and perspective.
  • Increased power and confidence.

I would attribute at least moderate credit for all of these fruits directly to that increased temple attendance.

Although perhaps less dramatic-sounding in a blog post, I believe these miracles are even more critical than was my need for a place to live as a newlywed. I believe these are the blessings that you, I, and the world desperately needs.

The world now

I am concerned. From my perspective, the world has generally degenerated, devolved, and diminished in joy and peace since before 2020.

I consider it a correlated issue that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have not had consistent access to the temple of the Lord during that time. From my personal small sample of my own connections, I am concerned by the decreased faith and shaken testimonies of so many of Jesus’ disciples today. I say this in complete love and compassion to the many dear friends who have confided in me about the various faith challenges they have faced.

A testimony

I wish to testify of things I know to be true, and I pray God will confirm their truth to you.

I testify that the the Lord gives us temples as opportunities too bless us. We must accept His invitation to attend and attend often, then we must acknowledge His hand as he blesses us in ways we cannot imagine.

I testify that the Lord sent temples to members of His Church to arm and inoculate them from the dangers of the world, as a blessing and shield to them.

I testify that the temple garment is an extension of the blessings promised to us in the temple, and that it is an honor to carry that holy armor with us.

I testify that men and women who have received the temple endowment carry the power of God with them. That power enables and authorizes them to fulfill God’s will in the world.

I testify that Christ is binding and gathering families here to fulfill God’s eternal purposes and offer His greatest blessings to all God’s children.

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.” 1 Nephi 14:14

The blessings of the temple bless the individuals who receive them, but they are also of utmost benefit to the entire world. We are the yeast, the “leaven” in bread, the key ingredient to lifting everybody around us. (Matthew 13:33)

“When men are called unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men;”

—Jesus Christ, Doctrine & Covenants 101:39

There is something special about this time, the latter days. There is something special about this place where I live, the United States. There is something special about God’s people. The temple is meant to set us apart, granting us light, knowledge, and power. 

Watching the summer sun rise over the temple

What to do

There is something everyone can do, to bring the blessings of the temple to themselves, their families, and the world. Skim to find which thing applies to you.

If you are not yet baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you’re in the right place! Meet with your local missionaries or attend a church service to get started. 

If you’re too young to be endowed, obtain, maintain, and use a limited use temple recommend. As frequently as you can, attend the temple to do baptisms and confirmations for the dead. Continue to repent and become more righteous each day, and learn about God and the temple in the scriptures, in prayer, and at church.

If you’re not yet endowed but a baptized adult member of the Church of Jesus Christ, make haste! Start today to do the work required to prepare to enter soon.

“‘Come to the temple.’ If not now, come soon. Pray fervently, set your lives in order, save whatever you can in hopes that that day may come. Start now that sometimes very difficult and discouraging journey of repentance. The temple transforms the individual and makes abundantly worthwhile any efforts made to get there.”

— “Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple” (booklet)

If you are endowed, attend the temple as often as you can. This will bless and assist you in many ways, including:

  • Reminders of the covenants you have made;
  • Blessings for your sacrifice time and energy to the Lord;
  • Opportunity to serve your ancestors and other deceased brothers and sisters. 

“Our need to be in the temple on a regular basis has never been greater. I plead with you to take a prayerful look at how you spend your time. Invest time in your future and in that of your family. If you have reasonable access to a temple, I urge you to find a way to make an appointment regularly with the Lord—to be in His holy house—then keep that appointment with exactness and joy. I promise you that the Lord will bring the miracles He knows you need as you make sacrifices to serve and worship in His temples.”

—President Russell M. Nelson, October 2018 General Conference

If you hold a temple recommend of any kind (e.g., regular or limited use temple recommend), always ensure your recommend is active. If yours is a few weeks (or even years) expired, start now to qualify for a new one. 

“I promise you as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ that as you strive to redouble your righteous efforts, you will feel renewed in your devotion to God the Father and Jesus Christ, you will feel an abundance of the Holy Ghost guiding you, you will be grateful for your sacred covenants, and you will feel peace knowing you are “recommended to the Lord.” In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

—Elder Ronald A. Rasband, October 2020 General Conference

I can promise you greater blessings and peace in your life as you make the temple of the Lord Jesus Christ a priority. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Let’s chat

How has the temple blessed you and your family? How would you rate your temple attendance right now, on a scale of 1-10? Did this article help you think of something you want to do differently? Share in the comments below.

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