This is a guest post by Daniel Ortner, who blogs at symphony of dissent.
Feminist Mormon Housewives has been running a series entitled When the Temple Hurts, in which members of the Church who had negative or conflicted experiences with the temple have shared their experiences. It seems to me that this has been a useful project in creating a space for individuals to share their feelings and their doubts. I have had several close friends struggle with elements of the temple, and so I know that the feeling of disappointment and disillusionment that some experience is very real. I hope not to diminish from those very real lived experiences in any way.
However, reading the series has made it apparent to me that a place is also needed for individuals to share their positive thoughts, feelings, and experiences regarding the temple. I hope that those reading this post will contribute to future posts by sharing those stories and experiences. For those who have been comforted in a time of crisis or received personal revelation in a moment of need, I hope that your stories will inspire and help others. For those who struggled with the temple at first, I hope you will share stories of how you eventually came to find peace and meaning in the ordinances of the temple and that your words will be a balm in Gilead for those in pain.
Of course, different individuals have a different understanding of what they are allowed to speak of regarding temple ordinances. Additionally, many temple experiences are so sacred that they perhaps cannot be appropriately shared outside of the temple or in a public setting. Please use your discretion and follow the promptings of the spirit in deciding what is appropriate to share.
I firmly believe in the promise of Joseph Smith’s Kirtland Temple Dedication: “That thy glory may rest down upon thy people, and upon this thy house, which we now dedicate to thee, that it may be sanctified and consecrated to be holy, and that thy holy presence may be continually in this house; And that all people who shall enter upon the threshold of the Lord’s house may feel thy power, and feel constrained to acknowledge that thou hast sanctified it, and that it is thy house, a place of thy holiness.” I feel very strongly that collecting these stories will help strengthen faith and testimonies and helping others feel the power and holiness of the Lord’s House.
When the Temple Helps: Daniel’s Conversion
This story is part of a new series, When the Temple Helps. Please feel free to share your stories and testimonies of the temple in order to uplift and inspire others.
I thought it would be appropriate to begin this series by sharing my own story and the powerful role the temple has played in my conversion and continued testimony.
For me, since the time of my conversion to the Church and the Gospel a little over six years ago, the temple has been at the center of my testimony. The temple arouses in me the most powerful feelings of reverence and awe for my Father in Heaven. It has been a place of refuge for me in times of trial and a place where I go to receive revelation and guidance from a loving father.
I began investigating the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the start of my Junior year of College. At the time, one of my closest friends in college who had long been inactive in the Church decided to return to activity. Following her example, I began to read about the church and attended sacrament meeting with her. I was especially gripped by what I read about eternal families and the potential to sealed together forever. I began to meet with the missionaries, and began to read about the Church. At first, my progress was slow and I asked the missionaries a series of difficult questions. Yet, I felt something special and continued to learn about the Church.
A few weeks into my investigation, I was talking to a good friend online who had very negative remarks about the church and especially about temples. She had seen a friend married and that friend’s family excluded from the sealing because they were not members. She could not understand why non-members were excluded and strongly criticized the Church as breaking up families. As she did so, I felt a very strong and clear prompting that I needed to go and check out the nearby Boston Temple. It was around 8pm, and I got into my car and drove to the temple grounds with my friend who was a member.
At the temple grounds, I got out of the car and felt stronger than I ever had in my life the presence of God. For several years leading up to this event, I had considered myself an atheist and had lost faith God. Yet, in that instant I knew God existed. I knew that he loved me and cared for me.
I decided to get back into my car and to drive to a couple of nearby churches/cathedrals to see if I felt the same powerful presence there. At a nearby Protestant Church nothing at all, while at a nearby Catholic Church I actually had a negative reaction and felt the spirit draining from me.
I then drove back to the Temple and stood outside again. As I did so, I again felt the overwhelming presence of God. In that instance, I saw myself through His eyes. I saw myself as his child. I saw the incredible potential that he saw in me. In that instant, I felt transformed and changed. I got on my knees, near one of the painted glass windows of the temple and poured out my heart to God.
Since that night, my life has never been the same. I have faced trials and obstacles. I have had moments of doubt and uncertainty. Yet, the indelible testimony that was impressed on my soul has neither faded nor diminished. I know that Heavenly Father truly saw my stubborn heart and knew that I needed a powerful conversion experience. He also knew that I needed the temple as an anchor to my testimony. I am so grateful for my conversion experience outside of the Boston Temple and do bear witness that the temple is truly a house of God.