Yesterday in church I was speaking with a friend and he told me that he went through the Temple and took out his endowments the day before. I told him that I was endowed only a year ago. I looked at my phone and realized that it was in fact a year ago to the day. I am grateful that I had that reminder. Having the opportunity to enter the temple was a wonderful blessing and a comfort for me. I remember very clearly the lessons I learned there and I want to take the time now to share them.
Lesson #1: The Temple truly is the House of the Lord.
Not only is it His house, it is a house of order. While there, I saw a childhood friend whom I had not seen in many years. I hugged her and was able to briefly speak with her. Seeing her there was a wonderful surprise and a comfort to me. I saw another friend of mine from college there and we spoke for a few minutes while I waited for the Temple President to come and speak to me. I also saw a few other close friends whom I was able to share that special moment with.
While in the actual endowment session, I realized that I knew everyone in the endowment room. The thing that is unique about this is that I had told very few people that I was going to the Temple that day. The Lord blessed me with people I knew and loved so they could help guide me through that learning experience. It was so clear to me, and still is now, that our Heavenly Father loves us and is conscious of us. The Temple is his house and He is in control.
Lesson #2: The things that happen in the Temple are sacred and wonderful.
While in the Temple, I was overwhelmed with peace and comfort. I knew that what I was doing would help me come closer to my Father in Heaven and that it would help me understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ more in my life. I knew in that moment that the knowledge received there and the covenants made are from God Himself and that it is good. Sure it was new and different, but the goodness was abundantly clear.
Lesson #3: I was doing the right things with my life.
Shortly before entering the temple, I had several people tell me that I was doing the wrong thing with my life. They were saying that I was foolishly devoting my life to something that would only bring loneliness and that choosing to not pursue a gay lifestyle was denying “who I was”. I prayed for several weeks to have Heavenly Father give me comfort and peace of mind while in His House.
In the celestial room I had a very special experience. I do not wish to go into detail as it was very sacred to me, but I will say that those feelings of doubt left my mind completely. I knew that I was living right. I knew that the sacrifices I was making, while difficult, were indeed worth it. I felt peace, comfort, and a resolve to continue to make the decisions I was making.
For many years I was afraid to let myself have true friendships with men because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to handle or understand the line between friendship and romantic feelings. I wanted to love men in a Christlike way but wasn’t sure how to do it. Over time I learned to develop relationships with men that were healthy and wholesome. With me there in the temple were several friends whom I love very deeply. While in the Celestial room, I felt that the love I had for these men was righteous and good. That memory has strengthened me and given me hope for future relationships. I am so blessed to have had them with me and I am grateful for their love and friendship. Through them I received validation for my actions.
Lesson #4: The Temple brings us close to God.
The overarching lesson for me was that the Temple is good and that it is somewhere that our Heavenly Father wants us to be there. While there, the Spirit taught me that if I regularly entered the Temple, I would not be led astray. I knew that spending time there would protect me and help me make good decisions and choices and that I would not begin to challenge principles that I knew were true.
That lesson applies to more than just me. Anyone who regularly attends the Temple of the Lord will be guided by the Spirit in their lives. There are so many thoughts about how to live and what we should believe. On some issues, the leaders of the Church have been very clear. On others, it seems that they have been silent. Whatever the case, attending the Temple will give clarity of mind and will align our wills with our Father’s. I have felt it and know that it is true.
God’s house is a holy and sacred place. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity I have in this life to enter and learn while there. For anyone who has not or cannot enter the Temple, I urge you to do what is necessary to be able to enter there worthily. The blessings are innumerable and it will bless you and your family for eternity.
How far is heaven? I testify that in the holy temples it is not far at all—for it is in these sacred places that heaven and earth meet and our Heavenly Father gives His children His greatest blessings. As we touch the temple and love the temple, our lives will reflect our faith. As we go to the holy house, as we remember the covenants we make therein, we will be able to bear every trial and overcome each temptation. -President Thomas S. Monson