Longing to be in the Temple
By Lisa Fullmer
After a long period of time where temples around the world were closed, due to a worldwide pandemic, I think I speak for the masses when I say, “I missed it.” I missed being able to freely worship in the temple on a random Wednesday afternoon. I missed the strength I gain from being inside its walls. I missed the connections to heaven and to ancestors I feel while there. I missed the inspiration and answers that tend to come more readily in the quiet stillness the temple offers. I missed the peace my heart always feels when I can set aside my worries for a moment and be reminded of the bigger, eternal picture.
Recently, as temple worship has resumed, I was sitting in an endowment session reflecting on the last several months and thought, “I never want to be kept out of the temple again.” And this thought reminded me of another time when I was not allowed inside.
Several years ago, I was intent on attending our ward temple night. It was something I tried to do regularly, but this particular month, I felt I desperately needed to be there. My husband and I were the grateful parents of two children at the time, both of whom had come to us through the miracle and gift of adoption. We had felt our Heavenly Father guiding that path every step of the way and had experienced the most beautiful moments throughout that journey. Because of this, our intention was to continue to grow our family through adoption; however, we repeatedly received promptings that we should pursue another path. We wrestled with this decision for months, always wanting to be sure that we listened to the promptings offered to us and opened whatever doors were necessary for our children to find their way to us. We were so prayerful and thoughtful about every decision we made as we created our family, and still, we felt stuck. Uncertain. In the middle of this uncertainty was ward temple night. The perfect opportunity to seek personal revelation for life-changing decisions.
I prepared all day with prayers on my knees and in my heart. I left my children with their favorite babysitter. I headed off to the temple to meet my ward family, because my husband was traveling for work that week. I was ready. So very ready. This was going to be the night when the clarity would come. I just knew it. I walked to the doors of the temple and could feel the peace start to settle in. As I went through the doors and approached the recommend desk, I pulled a recommend from my pocket. There was just one problem. It wasn’t my recommend. I had mistakenly grabbed my husband’s off of the shelf where we kept them together. The temple worker and I seemed to notice the name on the recommend simultaneously. My heart sunk and I immediately tried to explain. She told me she was sorry but they could not let me in. I could see my bishop, who was also my next door neighbor and dear friend, just up ahead of me in the lobby. I asked if we could talk with him and was again told that they could not let me in, even with his recommendation of my worthiness. I asked about calling my stake president to confirm I had a valid recommend and was told they could not use that information to allow me inside. I continued to ask if there was any other way, knowing my heart needed this time in the temple. My family needed the answers and direction I came seeking. As I pleaded, the worker resorted to pulling a letter from the drawer from the temple presidency explaining why they could not let me in with anything other than a valid temple recommend with my name on it. Still, I was persistent in my pleading, and…..they were persistent in their answer. The tears formed in my eyes as I expressed my disappointment and my desperation to be there. Devastated, I left.
As soon as I walked out of the temple, the tears flowed freely. Even I was a little stunned at how much my heart hurt to be turned away. It was too late to drive home and get back in time for a session that night, so I did the next best thing. I sat on the grounds of the temple and tried to soak in as much light and peace as I could from that place. I thought about the pain I felt being kept from God’s presence in the temple that night and considered how much greater the pain would be if kept from His presence in a more consequential way when my time in mortality is through. I determined that I would do everything I can to make sure that never happens, starting with keeping the covenants I made right inside that temple.
Throughout the pandemic, when temple attendance wasn’t possible, I experienced just a taste of how I felt that night, so many years ago. That same longing to be in the temple and experience God’s presence would often creep up, always followed by the same commitment to never be turned away again.
Sidenote: the answers I was seeking finally did come, and my husband and I welcomed twin baby boys into our family. I will forever be grateful for temples, which allow us to be sealed for eternity to our four miracles.