Relationships are at the heart of who we are as human beings. We began our mortal life in infancy linked and dependent on our parents. We are relationship-seeking beings, innately linking ourselves to others who share ideals, beliefs, and interests. We link ourselves to one another in marriage and again as we begin the process of bringing human beings into this world. The links continue with grandchildren and great-grandchildren and so on…
This sense of belonging is ideally found in the home. Is it any wonder that the temple, where God asks us to come and strengthen our relationship with Him, feels most like “home”?
Here are three ways that I think the temple is most like HOME (our ideal home):
I recently heard the former Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, quoted as saying “To be at home is to be known.” (1) The temple is where we learn who we really are. And who we really can be. We learn more about who God is and the role of our elder brother, Jesus Christ, in the Plan. We learn more about our first parents and their desires for us. We learn about our place in this big, expansive history and our importance as a son or daughter of God. Unlike many places on earth, we are loved and known for exactly who we are. To be in the temple is to be “known”. Knowing who we are and what our purpose is, gives us roots and wings.
In the temple, the language of heaven is spoken. The words, phrases, symbols, and patterns are all part of God’s language and laws. I teach English (ESL) to immigrant adults. They are learning a new language later in life and often have come from other countries recently. They feel like strangers in a foreign land. When someone speaks their language, there is an immediate feeling of relief and comfort. As we re-learn the language of heaven, we feel more at home.
Home is where we feel safe. Almost everyone I know loves the song, Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. It’s a beloved hymn written in 1785 by Robert Robinson, age 22, who prepared it for a sermon he was giving. It’s a beautiful melody, but I believe it’s the words that resonate so deeply with so many of us. These are words that often elicit a response from us. Beautiful words about a relationship with God and the Savior, Jesus Christ. I believe they address an innate desire we all have to be “tied,” “bound” or “tethered” to God, our Father. Like an astronaut taking a spacewalk, to feel safe here on earth, we desire to be held, linked, and tethered to our firm and immovable God. I believe it’s our covenants that provide that tethering. And as a result, they are where we gain safety and peace in the storms of life. “Oh, to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be! Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee: prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here's my heart, O take and seal it; seal it for thy courts above.” (2)
I experienced one of these “storms” a few years ago when I found myself a single mother of four in her mid-40s. No one gets married thinking they will ever get divorced. And no one has children, thinking they will only have them part-time. As a result, I was reeling. Everything I had thought about myself, my family, the world, and my faith was suddenly brought into focus and questioned. It was a situation I never wanted or thought I would be in. I was mourning the dream I had for myself, my marriage, and my family. It felt like a tailspin I couldn’t get out of. I couldn’t find my bearings, emotionally or spiritually… so I went to the one place that I knew might help. The temple. I went again and again. In the beginning, it was a painful reminder of all that I had lost. But I kept at it, determined to feel the peace that I knew only “home” could provide.
What resulted was a testimony that regardless of our circumstances or situations, we are tethered to our Heavenly Parents through ordinances and covenants. In the temple, I was reminded of their love and diligence in seeking after me. We are bound and tied to perfect beings through those ordinances and covenants, all made possible by the Savior’s loving, atoning sacrifice. Regardless of our marital status, parental status, or station in life, we can find solace in knowing our link to Him is sure and eternal.