Tuesday, May 30, 2017

THE TEMPLE! THE TEMPLE! THE TEMPLE!



Growing up in Texas, the Temple was never a really big part of my life. It was over an hour away driving, if there was good traffic, so I only went when the youth in my ward went. I knew the Temple was important. I knew it was a good thing. I knew I wanted to enter its holy walls, but day to day, it was never a big part of my life.

My freshman year of college was basically the same boat. Though I lived in sight of the Logan Temple, and it was on my mind, I only went once or twice because I was so used to only going two to four times a year. Then I went home to Texas before the start of my mission, and received my Endowment—a sacred ordinance where we learn of God's Plan for us to return to His presence, making promises to him—in the Dallas Temple May 19, 2012.

From that time on, the Temple became more and more a part of my life. When my mission was finished, and I was going to USU again, I was going to the Temple at least once a week as a patron. I worked in the Temple twice. I made friends because of the Temple. I invited people I'd met to just go to the Temple with me. I would make occasions to go walk around the Temple grounds.

I went with my buddy Joey his first time doing Baptisms for the Dead. I did Initatories on weeks I had no time to go. Through most of this time, I would just walk the half hour to 45 minutes to get to the House of the Lord. The power of the Temple flowed into me as I did work there. 

My senior year at USU, I met Erik. For once, I found someone who loved the Temple just as much as I did. If the two of us were hanging out, chances are you could find us one of three places: campus, Pizza Pie Cafe, or a Temple. For as long as I knew Erik, whenever he saw a Temple, he would yell out, "THE TEMPLE! THE TEMPLE! THE TEMPLE!" unless we were entering. We fed off of each others' excitement for the Temple.

I thought I would always choose to be in places very close to Temples so I could always just hop right over and not worry about time or distance or gas. But as I was applying to graduate school, I felt really drawn to the University of Arizona. While the Tucson Temple has been under construction for the past few years, it's still 75 days away from being dedicated.

I learned in this time what it means to sacrifice for the Temple. I know there's plenty of others who sacrifice much more than I do to go to the Temple just once. But I spend 2 hours driving to the Temple, 2 hours at the Temple, and 2 hours driving home from the Temple. It's not something I can use every day or even every week. It is a sweet experience attempting to find a friend who wants to go with me, and going, sometimes with someone and sometimes alone.

But in about two and a half months, I will once more be in the shadow of a Temple, and I CAN NOT WAIT!

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Friday, May 26, 2017

The Broken Heart

When the Savior was resurrected, He appeared among the peoples of the American Continent. During his preaching, he commanded the people "ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart". And since that day, the command has continued. A broken heart will establish Zion; a broken heart is one yielded unto God. But why?

When the world talks about a broken heart, it's always in a negative connotation: someone broke up with you and you feel shattered to pieces, and that can be true, but just because it is true in one sense, it does not mean it's a negative thing. Really, we all experience heart ache, we all, in one way or another experience broken hearts. Think back to the last time you had a feeling like your heart was broken. How did you feel?

Honestly, it sucks. You may feel down in the dumps for a few days. You may go deeper into depression. You may question if anything will ever go right again. You sit at a point where seemingly nobody could possibly understand. And while there are other meanings for having a broken heart as a sacrifice, this broken heart provides so much insight to one meaning the Savior could have.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, the Savior went "suffering pains and afflictions...of every kind...that his bowels may be filled with mercy" (Alma 7:11-12). Truly He is "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3). But the next phrase in that verse probably brings more pain to our Savior than anything else he suffered in the atonement: "we hid as it were our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3). Surely, us hiding from him is the last thing He wants of us. Surely He wants us to feel at home with Him.

In those days of our broken hearts, due to loss of friends, death, grief from disability, depression, mental health disorders, stress due to change, the Savior wants us to come to Him. He wants us to bring our broken heart, that He may heal us. In those times where darkness seems to surround us and demand that we surrender; in those moments when our world seems to be falling apart and our hearts torn to shreds; in those hours when the absolute last thing you want to do is make a sacrifice, that is precisely what the Lord wants you to do.

As we come to the altars with our broken hearts, and offer ourselves to Him in our moments of deepest agony, He heals us so we become far stronger than ever before. We become a little more like Him. Through bringing Him our broken hearts, we bind ourselves to Him. His servants who are already bound to Him, will bind to you to serve you, and thus we yield to God and establish Zion.

We sacrifice our broken hearts, because, in the end, when we have a broken heart, we are in our raw form. To sacrifice our broken heart, we sacrifice who we are, our very essence, and consecrate ourselves to doing what He does, living like He does, and being like He is.

Friday, May 12, 2017

"Is not this the fast that I have chosen?" -Isaiah 58:6

It's inevitable. Every month, as the first Sunday of the month rolls around, a countless barrage of memes comes pouring out of every Mormon memes page about how awful Fast Sunday is. I get it! We as humans like bonding and laughing over things that make us unique. I know this post is not going to be something trendy that goes viral, but this is rambling I need to get off my chest.

Fasting is not a thing on our checklist. It is not shared misery. It is not something we try to avoid by breaking the emblems of the sacrament slightly larger than normal. It is a sacrifice. It is a time to develop mastery over our natural appetites. It is a time to grow nearer to God. It is a time to seek revelation.

I just find it ironic that the very thing that Jesus condemned the Pharisees for with fasting: "Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward." The memes and comments about hunger pains and the jokes are the modern version of disfiguring our faces so people know we fast, and it's a collective issue that HAS TO STOP!

If youfeel like these memes describe you too perfectly, I recommend studying Isaiah 58. When you truly catch the vision of the fast, you come to know how it feels when this promise is fulfilled: "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward."

Is not this the fast you have chosen? If it is, wonderful! If it isn't, I exhort you to study the doctrine until fasting becomes a glorious, blissful experience for you.