It feels like it’s been a while since I did a really Mormony, Mormon Monday. But I feel like doing one today.
And I want to talk about temple attendance. I heard a talk at our Stake Conference back in February that played a significant role in a paradigm shift for me on this topic.
The speaker told a story about a temple president and a poor, common man. I am paraphrasing here according to my memory and perhaps according my own personal interpretation via the Spirit:
“A man came up to the Temple President and asked, “Is it harder to go to the temple once a week or once a month?” I think the President answered as we all would, “once a week” is harder. Anything that is done more frequently, is more work … right? The poor man responded, “Wrong. It is harder to go to the temple once a month.”
This response surprised the temple President, so the man went on to clarify: “Once a month is an inconvenience. But once a week is a commitment.”
This statement hit me as truth.
I thought about my own experience. I have tried to go to the temple once a month for as long as I have had a temple recommend. And the once a month has often seemed like a burden or an inconvenience. It was hard to fit the one session in, and it seemed like I would have to move heaven and earth to get there. I was always glad to check it off my list and not worry about it for another month.
I also thought about exercise. Those of you that do it everyday, it is of little stress to you. It is no big deal. It is a part of your life and part of your habits and part of your schedule. But those of us that don’t do it regularly, struggle at the thought of fitting it in even once a week or have to really move our schedule around to find time to exercise.
As I listened to the man’s logic and the Spirit, I felt a desire to go to the temple more often — I felt a desire to commit to going to the temple once a week.
Then the man went on to ask, “President, do you take your children to the temple?”
The President looked a little puzzled again. He said he took his children to visit the temple grounds occassionally and they walk around etc. but of course, they can’t go inside.
The man reemphasized, “No, do you take your children WITH you to the temple? Like do you bring one on your mind when you go?” The man went on to explain that he took a different child with him in his heart each time he went to the temple. He thought and prayed about that particular child.
This idea impacted me as well because I worry about different struggles with each one of my children — some small, some huge; some irritating, some painful; some short-term, some long term. I wonder how I can help them or what I can do or how I can best parent him or her.
I felt a deep need to have the temple as my partner in parenting.
As I contemplated this story, I came up with a game plan. My husband and I talked it over, and we decided that we would try to get to the temple each week — at least one of us. We had to get over the idea that we needed to go together. Rather we would support each other in at least one of us getting there on a weekly basis. Maybe Chad would get up early on a school morning or I would go during my 6 free hours a week or one of us would go on a Saturday afternoon. But we have a mutual goal for one of us to get to the temple once a week.
And we would take one child each time with us and tuck them in our hearts. We would make them part of that temple session. We figured 4 kids and 4 weeks in a month – which comes out to each kid getting to go to the temple once a month. We tell them when it is their week to go and we share our experiences and our thoughts with them. We want them to be a part of the temple experience as much as possible.
We haven’t been perfect at our goal. I didn’t even make it last week. But going to the temple was on my list and it is again this week. Even if we aren’t perfect at our goal, we are going more often than we were before and with more focus. Summer will provide new challenges and new schedule changes, but we can make it work because now we are more committed.
I am working on a system or a graphic to remind us and the kids whose turn it is to go to the temple in a fun visual way. It involves some magnets and some temple pictures.
And to be clear, I am just sharing my personal experience and my personal inspiration with this story. I am in no way suggesting everyone needs to go to the temple once a week. Certain times of life and certain life circumstances or geographical location don’t allow this frequency.
But I am inviting you to look at what frequency is your inconvenience and what frequency is your commitment? Maybe once a year in your inconvenience and once a month is your commitment? Maybe just being worthy to hold a temple recommend is your commitment?
You know where your line is between inconvenience and commitment. And I know mine.