And we ask thee, Holy Father, that they servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and they glory round about them, and thine angels have charge over them
~Doctrine and Covenants 109:22
Last week in General Conference we heard Elder Holland teach that being believing is something to celebrate and treasure. It is the natural predecessor to knowledge of spiritual things. I have been fortunate to have a mother who has instilled in me belief of many spiritual things and paved the way for me to grow and develop those beliefs into personal knowledge. As a child I knew that she had a testimony of temple prayers. I didn’t know why, or what that really meant, but I was taught to believe in a unique strength that came from the prayers offered in the temple. One day in a Relief Society meeting she raised her hand to make a comment in class. Today I asked her to write it down for me, and this is the story she shared:
I felt the difference when it left. I hadn’t noticed when it started, though. I was too overwhelmed then, having endured a difficult pregnancy only to have it end in the birth and death of my little son. Shock, grief, numbness, having to get back into the swing of things with the other four children who had been inadvertently neglected in many ways while their worlds were also misaligned, so many emotions on top of a body that wanted to nurse a baby but there was no baby… So I didn’t notice when the sweet, peaceful presence came. But I did notice when it left.
It had been several weeks now. I still cried at any time, and always at night. I would do that for an entire year before weaning myself from that nightly, stuffy-nose ritual. But several weeks had gone by and people were not asking me how I was doing. Perhaps they didn’t want to remind me of something that never went away. I was doing better. Perhaps they thought that was good enough.
But I noticed. When the RS Presidency came to visit, I confronted them outright. “You stopped putting my name on the temple roll, didn’t you?” They looked surprised at my gentle outburst. “I used to be the RS secretary, I know you would submit my name to the temple because of my situation. But you stopped, didn’t you?” I continued. After looking at one another, they nodded their heads and one questioned why I asked. “I don’t feel it anymore,” I said. That extra feeling of strength, like someone was standing beside me, quietly supporting me – that was gone. And I was standing on my own. I could now. Barely. But I could. I told the sisters visiting me that I appreciated their vote of confidence in me, for believing I could do it on my own. And that I appreciated the angels that must have been sent to strengthen me because they did do just that for as long as I needed them.
I remember this phase of my mom’s life from a nine year old perspective. I was old enough to know that it was hard. I was aware enough to realize that it changed her. And I can tell you that I am not surprised to hear her say that she cried every night for a year. From my observance, she was in nearly constant pain for at least that long. But how intriguing it was for me as an adult to learn of the tangible source of strength she had felt. I love the testimony she developed from this situation – that even as our strength is being tested, strengthened and developed, blessings from the temple will be a buffer to protect us from the greatest depths of our pain.
I marveled at her experience and wondered if I would ever experience my own tangible witness of the power of temple prayers. When my husband had a work obligation that required him to live out of state for five months while I stayed home with two young children, we had the opportunity to place my name on the temple prayer roll. And even in the midst of my feelings of loss and loneliness, I was surprised at the peace I felt. Like my mom, I felt a change two weeks later when I was no longer being prayed for at the temple. But like my mom, I had also gotten through that transition having been strengthened and I was ready to continue my journey without that extra help.
The blessings of the temple need to be experienced to really understand their impact. But whether your knowledge is firmly rooted in personal memories, or you simply have that desire to believe, you will find joy and strength as you turn your heart to the House of the Lord.